Today, I’m tackling one of the most frequent questions I receive – Hermes Kelly, sellier or retourne style?
Because I’m either a crazy lunatic or have remarkable willpower (it all depends on how big of a Kelly fan you are, for your perspective) I have two black Kelly bags, both in size 28cm. I love both, and can say with a straight face that they each occupy unique places in my wardrobe. Yes, that’s right. These are very different bags (to me). Now, a little bit on each style…
Sellier: Sellier in terms of a Kelly refers to its outside stitching, on its edges which results in the bag’s crisp, sharp lines. The outside stitching is obviously more visible, so more attention must be paid to the craftsmanship. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful bag shapes ever…so clean and architectural.
My sellier Kelly is a 28cm, black box leather with ruthenium hardware. Black box is such a fantastic leather, and in fact I’ve had an order outstanding for another black box Kelly for something like three years now. I’m not sure if Hermes is ever going to fulfill it, and I suspect it may have gone into the black hole these orders sometime disappear into, only surfacing to serve as amusement for Hermes executives during lunch breaks. “And get this….she wants 40cm, and she thinks she’s going to get it in ombre lizard!” they shriek, over glasses of wine.
28cm is also the largest size sellier that I’d use for dressier occasions. I’m too short to pull off anything larger. I don’t have any recent pictures of me with my Kelly, but here’s one when I was six months pregnant. When placed strategically, it does a pretty good job of hiding a baby bump!
Pros: The most beautiful Kelly style and shape, in my opinion. Tends to “droop” or sag less over time, as the retourne Kellys do, simply due to their construction.
Cons: While the bag looks larger due to its construction and defined angles (you can see this for yourself in the first comparison photo above ), it actually fits a bit less than the retourne, due to its construction and the lack of flexibility. So you’re getting a visually bigger bag….but one that holds less! Also, costs a bit more than retourne (due to the higher craftsmanship involved, I’m told).
Now, onto the retourne style.
Retourne: Whereas sellier refers to the outside stitching of the Kelly, retourne refers to the inside stitching of the bag’s edges – observe the piping on the edges, can you see how it’s a bit like if someone sewed it and then turned it inside out? This makes the bag a bit “softer” at the edges, and more flexible (there’s no piping on sellier Kellys).
My retourne Kelly is a 28cm, black chevre with gold hardware. I tend to use this more as a casual bag – and I love my short shoulder strap, it makes the bag so comfortable and easy to wear. Both the strap and the Kelly itself were special ordered in their configuration.
Pros: Fits more than the sellier of the same size, also more flexible. Costs a bit less, and if you do a special order, you can play with the piping color (always fun). The edges also tend to “stick out” less – I’m always a bit paranoid with the sellier about hitting it on corners. Also, you can more easily go casual.
Cons: Not as “formal” of a look as the selliers, also due to the construction can sag over time (especially in the larger sizes). You can see in my comparison photos, how the retourne Kelly has a bit of “slouch” in places, whereas the sellier sits perfect straight – even though its six years older!
So – now after all that, back to the original question – sellier or retourne? Let me apologize in advance…for I’m going to be copping out with the ultimate non definitive response, which is “it depends“. On your lifestyle, and what you’re buying the Kelly for.
If you’re buying for mainly dressier events, and/or just to “have” the Kelly and stare at it in your closet? Then I might get the sellier. It’s absolutely beautiful, and in sellier, won’t sag very much over time at all and you can give it to your children.
For myself, if I absolutely had to choose one – it’d be retourne then, as my life is more casual than dressy. And with a 28cm, I can still get away with using my retourne for dressier occasions (anything black tie, etc I’d use a hand held clutch anyway).
But in life, I do have to say…sometimes things are just better in twos!
Which Kelly style do you prefer?
PS: One of my favorite places to search for Kellys at fair prices, is Fashionphile.