When you hear “Hermes,” do you think of the Birkin and the Kelly? Of course, these are two iconic bags from the brand that have stood the test of time and will never go out of fashion, but they have a beautiful sister that has a quite a story to tell – she has been around for almost half of the century, is timeless, and probably even more rare than Kelly or Birkin. Her name is Constance.
She was created by Hermes designer Catherine Chaillet in 1969, and named after Catherine’s fifth child who was delivered on the same day the first bag left the production line. The Constance was picked up by one of the most influential and stylish women of that era, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who immediately skyrocketed its popularity around the globe.
What is the secret of Constance’s success and longevity? Firstly, it is a minimalistic, simplistic design. It goes well with everything: a casual ensemble, formal wear, or cocktail attire. The Constance has a sturdy, box like body, which makes you look put together, and all the essentials will stay well organized in the compartments in the interior. The adjustable strap makes the Constance very versatile, instantly transforming it from an elegant shoulder bag if you double the straps or into a more casual version if you use a single long strap, or you can even try to wear it crossbody.
If you are a savvy person, Constance is a smart investment, as it is in high demand and retains a lot of its value on the resale market. While being simple and clean in its design, it has an instantly recognizable H-shaped clasp crafted from six pieces of hardware that adds a chic touch to it. The interior has a secure zip pocket, a patch pocket, and two bigger compartments with gussets, making them expandable and roomy. This bag is made of the finest materials and takes around 14 hours to craft. Modern, yet classic, functional and versatile, chic and effortless, a great investment, available in multiple sizes, models and materials, it is clear why the Constance stays sought after in the last 48 years.
Now let’s take a look at variations the bag comes in. First thing first: sizing. Currently the Constance is produced in four sizes (from smallest to largest):
Micro (14) – 11 cm x 14 cm x 3 cm
Mini (18) - 15 cm x 18 cm x 4 cm
24 - 15 cm x 24 cm x 5 cm
Elan (25) - 14 cm x 25 cm x 8 cm
Elan might seem close to Constance 24, but has more of a rectangular shape and a longer strap. It was first launched in 2010. There are a few sized that have been discontinued by Hermes. However, you may still score them on a resale market. These include: Constance 23 , 25 and 29. The last 2 have been discontinued shortly after its introduction.
During Fall/Winter 2013 season Hermes launched Constance Cartable. It measures at 24 cm x 29 cm x 9 cm and is a noticeably larger version with a short strap, which makes it a perfect top handle bag.
Besides sizing, Hermes offers multiple options of hardware: palladium, gold, enamel inlaid, lizard covered H clasp and guilloche (textured palladium plated hardware). The variety of colors and materials might exceed your expectation and be a bit overwhelming. Constance comes in classic Hermes leathers, including Box Calf, Swift, Velours Doblis, Crinoline, and more. If isn’t enough, you can go for the exotics: ostrich, crocodile, alligator, or lizard in a variety of finishes. However, in this article I want to focus on special editions of Constance.
Printed Silk with Barenia or Swift is a rare bag from 2014 made of fine silk with unique “Brazil” print that is hard to find, but if you get lucky you can choose from 2 options: a sunny “Mangue” color or a more muted “Graphite” one.
To continue with print theme for Spring/Summer 2017 collection Hermes collaborated with Irish illustrator Nigel Peake and came up with a bold, artistic version of Constance. It has a vibrant, graphic design called “On A Summer Day” printed on Swift Leather, which truly elevates a classic bag to another level. This bag comes in size 24 and is a true collector’s piece.
Another special Constance was offered by Hermes for Fall 2016. It is not as bold as the previous one, but has a unique check print in orange and white, which adds a fresh touch to a classic bag, while maintaining a simple and versatile look.
Another “On a Summer’s day” Constance is not as in your eye as its vibrant sister, but no less unique. It is crafted from matte Sombrero leather with more shiny embossed geometric print. It comes in size Mini and has a very fresh and crisp twist on a classic with a more subtle and chic graphic design.