Cover Pierre Hardy, creative director of fine jewellery at Hermès (Photo: Matthieu Raffard)

While interpreting an icon of the maison into jewellery, Hardy infused it with an unexpected rock and roll spirit

“My earliest memory of the Kelly is a picture of Grace Kelly with the bag,” Pierre Hardy says with a warm smile. “I didn’t know at that time that I would work for the house.” It’s a sunny, balmy late afternoon in Singapore (though Hardy assures me it’s not quite so in Paris) and I’m chatting over Zoom with the sprightly creative director of fine jewellery at Hermès about the maison’s latest jewellery collection, Kellymorphose.

Kellymorphose is the latest expression of the house’s creativity in jewellery, a singular paean to the iconic Kelly handbag that was named after the eternally elegant Princess Grace of Monaco. Similar to its namesake, the bag has been a bastion of good taste through the decades and shares a hallowed status among the well‑heeled cognoscenti.

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But when Hardy was approached to pay homage to this chic symbol of style, he decided to take an iconoclastic approach. Instead of a straightforward rendering, the designer focused his attention on the individual components of the Kelly—the gavroche (the belt encircling the bag), the clochette (the leather key cover) with a functioning lock and key, and the touret (turnlock) closure, among others.

“I was interested in its simplicity, its efficiency as a bag, and its clarity,” Hardy says. “There is nothing excessive, nothing decorative. Each part has a use and each part of the bag is there for a reason. That was intriguing for me, because there’s not a lot of details. It was exciting to look at it and to focus on every little thing: how it was made, and which part I could isolate; and should I have to consider it all together, or to reduce it.”

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Luckily for us, this distillation brought forth standout pieces such as the Kelly Gavroche Necklace, fashioned from white gold and encrusted with 1,771 diamonds totalling 74.32 carats (“I thought it was a very cool, and even rock and roll, kind of gesture to tear off the belt of the bag and to put it around your neck,” says Hardy), and the fabulous Kelly Baguettes Five‑Row Bracelet, made from rose gold and with 465 baguette‑cut black spinels totalling 54.46 carats. 

There is also an idea of preciousness that permeates throughout the collection, and it is an intentional consideration on Hardy’s part that made it so. The collection is expressed in a variety of precious metals—yellow gold, white gold and rose gold—and stunning gemstones such as black spinels and diamonds. But the designer wanted to bring that rare quality to the everyday. “I wanted to make [the collection] precious for something you can carry in your hand, around your neck, around your finger, around with you everywhere, even when you’re not carrying a bag,” he says.

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Seen up close, it is hard not to marvel at the technical mastery of the pieces. The Kelly Gavroche Necklace, for example, ingeniously resembles a sinuous ribbon that has been insouciantly wrapped into a necklace; the Kelly Chaîne body jewellery can be detached and worn three ways (as a necklace, as a belt and as a complete set). It is, to say the least, sublime. But what of the challenges to create such exquisitely detailed pieces? “At this point, nothing is impossible,” Hardy says with an impish grin. “I rarely have to face the answer, ‘No; this is not possible.’”

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