Insider's secret
VOGUE India|November 2021
While the Birkin, Constance and Kelly may be the most well-known, Hermès has 50 different styles that marry form and function with ease. Catherine Fulconis from the luxury maison rounds them up with Priyanka Khanna
Priyanka Khanna
Like bras and heels, in the midst of pan-demic-induced stay-at-home orders, the handbag was summarily dismissed as a relic of a sartorial past. The reasoning, as Vanessa Friedman summed up in The New York Times in December 2020, was based on its very functionality: “What was the point of a bag if no one could go out? Why did we ever think we needed so many of them in the first place? What are we supposed to do with all of those extra totes and purses and clutches?” she wrote in ‘The Once And Future Handbag’. But the demise of the handbag, Friedman concluded, was widely exaggerated. The booming numbers in the resale market, the rare Himalayan Kelly that fetched nearly half a million dollars at Christie’s (the highest price ever paid for a bag at an auction) and the growing market for collectible editions are all indicators that the handbag is never really going to go away.

What has emerged from the past 18 months is a change in mindset. Now, the need for quality, for pieces that weather trends and generations, that have the patina of inherent style and also whisper quietly of a more conscious approach to fashion, are non-negotiable.

At Hermès, these are the very values the house was founded on, and which have paid dividends for it and its patrons over the years. “At Hermès, we don’t make it bags, but objects made to last. Each time we create a bag, our aim is that it is of its time, is timeless, and becomes a classic. This is an extraordinary richness, resulting in leather goods with strong style and personality,” says Catherine Fulconis, member of the Executive Committee of Hermès International and executive vice president of Hermès international’s leather goods, saddlery and petit h divisions.

“Hermès bags express the aesthetics of functionality, purity, refinement and a refusal for useless decoration. This comes from our equestrian origins and the way we used to make harnesses that were designed to be as robust as they were fine, liberating the animal and revealing its beauty. A bag is beautiful because it is functional. Each detail, characteristic or pattern always has its reason. This means we put the best of what we can because in our minds it has to still be desirable in 20, 30 or 40 years. It is more than one life because they aim to be transmitted from one generation to another, to family members or friends. The attention to detail is also about creating bags that are as beautiful outside as inside,” she adds.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM VOGUE INDIAView All

Supriya Lele's Delicate View Of A New India

British-Indian designer Supriya Lele inhabits the space between her familial roots in Jabalpur and her life growing up in the UK’s West Midlands. And in her clothes, she fashions this push and pull that lives within her. As a result, what is born is not a dissonance but a delicate view of a new India, finds Akanksha Kamath

3 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

Freshest Hair Trend Of The New Year

Meet the freshest hair trend of the new year.

1 min read
VOGUE India
January 2022

A New Generation Of Indian Models Is Shaping Our Definition Of Beauty

A new generation of Indian models is shaping our definition of beauty. Casting its gaze on a more authentic identity in fashion is talent agency Feat. Artists, writes Akanksha Kamath

3 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

OF COLOUR AND COMPANY

For artist and jeweller Arpana Rayamajhi, mood-enhancing hues are a testament to her Nepali-in-New York aesthetic, finds Hasina Khatib

3 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

INTO THE VALLEY

Nestled between India and China, the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan unfolds a journey that is transformative, both physically and spiritually. Kirstie Clements travels across Aman Resorts’ circuit of five beautiful but understated lodges to encounter a remote region with the best-preserved traditions that are defiantly analogue, pristinely natural and dazzlingly majestic

4 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

THE RISE OF RESALE

The best pre-loved fashion is no longer discovered only in IRL. Today’s savviest fans are finding everything from vintage Alaïa to Zara in all corners of the digital shopping space, writes Ellie Pithers

10+ mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

LAY OF THE LAND

Subverting the toxic doctrine of hustle culture, Jahan Jhala left his corporate job in the UK to return to his fourth-generation family farm in Gujarat’s Gir forest. Along with his partner Mallika Chandra, he has now undertaken the ambitious endeavour of transforming the plot into a lush, biodynamic pocket, finds Sadaf Shaikh

7 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

Behind the veil

Known as the Indian fashion industry’s retro revivalist, Sabyasachi Mukherjee has built a brand on being proudly and unapologetically Indian. Vogue India’s editor, Megha Kapoor, speaks with the man behind the country’s biggest nuptials

7 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

WHAT JULIE SAHNI TAUGHT ME

While writing about a little-known, path-breaking Indian chef for his debut book, Mayukh Sen unlocked a deeper understanding of his own mother’s food and her immigrant story. For Sahni, that cookbook was just one triumph in a varied culinary résumé that has involved writing and teaching

4 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Drawn from the creative and political minds of today’s diaspora, these upcoming novels—from head-on honest to downright hilarious—are poised to be the debuts of the season, says Sana Goyal

3 mins read
VOGUE India
January 2022