Deconstructed: The Hermès Himalaya

Christie’s May 18, 2017

Why collectors are in thrall to the extraordinary craftsmanship behind the creation of the ultimate bag

The ravishing Hermès Himalaya Birkin Bag is considered the Holy Grail in a Handbag collection, while the Himalaya Kelly is fabled as ‘The Rarest Handbag in the World’. How did this handbag achieve such cachet? The answer lies in the construction of this wearable work of art, a striking blend of superlative design with fabulous materials.

The Himalaya Birkin is crafted from Nilo crocodile hide. The designation ‘Himalaya’ does not apply to the origin of the bag, but rather to the delicate gradation of the colour. The smoky grey fades into a pearly white, resembling the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas. The process of dyeing a Crocodile hide is time-consuming and exponentially more difficult as the shades lighten — to create the immaculate white of the snow and the gradation to rocky grey requires great skill and a fine eye.

The finished product is wondrous to behold. Marrying precious materials and craftsmanship with the Hermès equestrian heritage, the Himalaya Birkin is the ultimate expression of the artistry and tradition of the storied Hermès House.

The introduction of the original series of Himalaya Birkins spawned a collecting phenomenon. Handbag collectors around the world recognised the rarity and exquisite craftsmanship behind the Himalaya. Therefore, in a resounding response to the appetite of collectors, Hermès began to craft very few Himalaya Kelly Bags for top clients.

Produced in the most limited of numbers, the Himalaya Kelly is a perfect marriage of the subtle gradation of the Himalaya and the elegance of the Kelly. The Himalaya Kelly is both an heirloom and a work of art.

In 2016, Christie’s 30th Anniversary Hong Kong auction sold a Himalaya Birkin Bag with White Gold and Diamond Hardware for an auction world record price of $300,168. This incredible result solidifies what handbag collectors worldwide already know: the Diamond Himalaya Bag is the most desirable handbag in existence.