Carrying a Birkin or Kelly is the ultimate status symbol for many women. They’re highly sought after but famously hard to acquire, even pre-owned, and they’re said to be a better investment than gold. Both have interesting histories – the Kelly is named after Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, who used hers to hide her pregnancy from the press, while the Birkin is named after actress Jane Birkin who fortuitously had a handbag malfunction while sitting next to the Hermès CEO, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a plane. (Dumas offered to make her a new one and they designed it together on the back of an airline sick bag!) But while we adore the Birkin and the Kelly, we also want to take a moment to celebrate their slightly lesser-known but equally desirable sisters, Evelyne and Constance.
While maybe not quite global superstars like the Birkin and the Kelly, Evelyne and Constance are both popular and highly sought after in their own right. They have all the craftsmanship, quality, and attention to detail you expect from Hermès, but are smaller, less expensive, and – arguably – more versatile. They’re the perfect starter bags for budding Hermès collectors or ideal everyday bags for Hermès lovers who want to keep their Birkins or Kellys in mint condition. And while they’re not named after celebrities, the histories of these bags are still rather charming. Come and meet them...
The Evelyne bag is named after Evelyne Bertrand, who designed the bag in 1978. She was head of Hermès’ Riding Department and intended it as a carry-all for horse groomers’ tools, such as brushes and sponges. One side of the bag is perforated with a signature 'H' to allow these tools to dry. For the first few decades of its life Evelyne could only be found in Hermès stores’ equestrian sections but, thankfully at the beginning of this century, people began to realise that this bag deserved to be shown off to a wider audience than just horses.
It’s easy to see why the Evelyne has become so popular. It's a comfortable and versatile crossbody bag, made of soft, supple leather, and these days it comes with a wide, adjustable strap (The first two versions of it did not.) It also comes in a variety of colours and four different sizes, depending how much you like to carry, and most versions have a really useful exterior pocket. The distinctive perforated H branding is also so striking, yet so simple. Originally, Betrand had designed the perforated side to be worn against the body, but as the bag has become more widely used, the H is now worn at the front to show it off. (Fun fact: the H always has 63 holes: – 40 for the oval, 9 on each side of the H, and 5 across the middle.)
A neat, elegant bag with an easy-to-wear shoulder strap, the Constance is instantly recognisable thanks to the signature H buckle. Each Constance bag is crafted by a single artisan, taking around 14 hours to create. As you expect from Hermès the bag also comes in different sizes, leathers, and colours. There are even belt and wallet versions.
The Constance takes its name from the daughter of the woman who designed it in the late 1960s, Catherine Chaillet. She was pregnant when she designed the bag, and when her baby arrived on the very day that the bag launched, it seemed like fate. Chaillet named her daughter Constance, which translates as constant or steadfast, and these are qualities which Hermès, a family business, prides itself on. And the bag has lived up to its name, maintaining a steady popularity since it was launched. Former First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, was a fan and it has been seen on the arm (or shoulder) of many more fashion icons since then.