Anatomy of a Bag: Hermès

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The Constance is a constant. An iconic counterpart to its well-known cousins the Birkin and the Kelly, this leather shoulder bag is undoubtedly one of Hermès’ most essential pieces, synthesizing the classicism of the legendary accessories house with a youthful joie de vivre and on-the-go spirit.

Created in 1969 and named after the newborn daughter of its designer, Catherine Chaillet, the Constance has stood the test of time, attracting wearers as diverse as Jackie Onassis, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Anna Dello Russo. Marked by an unmistakable silver “H” closure and prized for an adjustable shoulder strap that easily takes it from day to evening, the Constance is realized after fourteen hours of intensive hand craftsmanship and staggering attention to detail. Constance, the girl, grew up to become a celebrated journalist and literary critic. Constance, the bag, has similarly aged well, losing not an ounce of its grace, chic, or contemporary function.

For this shoot, we visited the artisans at the Hermès workshop outside Lyon to glimpse the making of the Constance Cartable, a reissued larger model that resembles a briefcase with a short strap and a stunning inlaid leather logo clasp and is meant to be carried by hand. “The format already existed, but we have given it a certain modernity by changing the length of the strap,” says Couli Jobert, Artistic Director of Leather. “It is now shorter, allowing the wearer to carry it as a satchel, a vanity case, or even as a shoulder bag.” Available in a range of colors, it is the latest chapter in the Constance story and yet another testament to the genius of Hermès.

The Constance Cartable by the numbers:Almost 50—Number of parts the Veau Box is cut into14—Hours of craftsmanship required to realize a single bag6—Amount of individual pieces of hardware1—Number of Hermès artisans hand-crafting each bag

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