… was the price paid for this hand-painted, vin­tage Her­mès bag at a re­cent auc­tion. Here’s what makes it such a steal

The National - News - Luxury - - THE DECODER -

You can ex­pect to pay more than dou­ble this price for a cur­rent ver­sion of Her­mès’s Re­tourne Kelly bag. This vin­tage holdall – a black, 28-cen­time­tre, box calf leather and toile Re­tourne Kelly with gold hard­ware from the early 1980s – is un­usual enough in it­self, and made all the more so with the ad­di­tion of a strik­ing paint­ing of a tiger on the front and a ser­pent on the back. The paint­ing is by New York-based artist Max Brow­nawell, who is also a se­nior lux­ury-ac­ces­sories spe­cial­ist at Her­itage Auc­tions.

The bag was sold dur­ing Her­itage Auc­tions’s Win­ter Lux­ury Ac­ces­sories auc­tion last month. A to­tal of 277 items, rang­ing from Her­mès Birkins, bracelets and scarves, to Chanel watches and gloves, were sold dur­ing the event.

The con­di­tion of this bag was listed as ex­cel­lent, in­di­cat­ing that it shows very mi­nor ev­i­dence of han­dling, de­spite its age. It was es­ti­mated to fetch be­tween US$6,000 and $8,000 (up to Dh29,400).

Brow­nawell started paint­ing on Her­mès hand­bags in early 2016, since the toile fab­ric used by the lux­ury

fash­ion house presents a per­fect can­vas for his work. He has cus­tomised eight Her­mès hand­bags, with three more cur­rently in the works.

An Her­mès cus­tomised leather and toile Ebene

Ne­gonda gar­den party MM bag, fea­tur­ing a Brow­nawell paint­ing of a brightly coloured ser­pent, was also sold dur­ing the auc­tion.

In a time-con­sum­ing process, Brow­nawell paints

his an­i­mal mo­tifs by hand, us­ing nu­mer­ous lay­ers of paint to build tex­ture. The artist uses acrylics, which have the added ben­e­fit of stay­ing put if the bag ever gets caught in the rain.

“I was first in­spired by an­tique Ti­betan car­pets

fea­tur­ing tiger mo­tifs. Many of my works are in­spired by th­ese ex­tremely cre­ative and var­ied de­pic­tions of tiger skins from 19th-cen­tury Ti­bet, where they were be­lieved to pro­tect those who wore them dur­ing meditation. By re­work­ing th­ese mo­tifs into de­signs that fit onto the can­vas of the bags, my tigers are given back to their orig­i­nal pur­pose. They’re pro­tect­ing the owner, and of course pro­tect­ing the bag it­self,” says the artist.

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