A true gentleman’s accessory and testament to chic style and masculinity, the Hermès Haut à Courroies is a true ‘must have’ bag for the fashion-conscious male. It was originally created by Émile-Maurice Hermès, who modelled it after the tote bags used by the Argentinian cowboys he saw whilst on a trip to South America. It has been part of the Hermès luxury offerings since 1892. Unlike many of the products from the Hermès range, it has stayed true to its large and imposing form which, in my opinion, makes it the perfect ‘He-Bag’.
The Classic Hermès Birkin bag was in fact modelled on the Haut à Courroies, made shorter and smaller, with longer handles designed for toting over the arm. Everyone knows the story about Jane Birkin disgracing herself by dropping all her personal belongings on an airplane floor, as she did not have an appropriate handbag, whilst on an Air France flight to Paris. It just so happened that Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was on the same flight and ‘Sacrebleu…I must do something to help the women of the world from this catastrophe’, he is purported to have exclaimed. Hence in 1984, the Birkin was born.
Now, I am getting away from myself – back to the Haut à Courroies. By the turn of the 20th Century, the Haut à Courroies had come into its own as the ultimate travel bag. With the advent of the automobile, it was the perfect companion for the traveller, perhaps the original overnight bag. At its conception, it was mainly used to protect and transport saddles and riding boots, however it soon become a symbol of practicality and elegance for the well to do traveller.
Jumping forward to the 21st Century, the Haut à Courroies has remained relevant and popular amongst fashionistas worldwide. Traditional sizes from 40cm through to 55cm are still in demand. There are newer sizes available as special orders, including 28cm, 32cm and 36cm, however these sizes are not for traditionalists of this iconic bag. If I had my choice, a 55cm ‘Vache Naturelle’ leather Haut à Courroies would suit me down to the ground.
JOHN D’AGATA / Head of Luxury