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Article: The Hermes Constance Elan - Revisiting an Icon


The Hermes Constance Elan - Revisiting an Icon

In Hermes’ most recent Fashion Week presentation in Paris, show-goers were treated to the reveal of the designs Hermes will (supposedly) be producing in future seasons. One such bag that caught the eye of many collectors was the reintroduction of the Constance Elan. The Constance has been around for over half a century, and has had countless variations extrapolated from its timeless design.

The Constance Elan was rather unique for how it played with the classic Constance shape. Stretched to a width of 25cm, and reduced to a height of 13cm, the Constance Elan also sported the longest strap of any Constance style, making it ideal for crossbody use. The strap could also be doubled and worn over the shoulder.

Initially launched in 2010, the Constance Elan was produced in many color/material/hardware variations. Examples can be found in Epsom, Swift, Silk, Doblis, Box, Lizard, Crocodile and Alligator, but never Ostrich. Hermes discontinued the Elan in 2017, after which it began producing Constance 18s and 24s in Ostrich with some regularity. May collectors wonder if the future Constance Elans will be found in this material, but only time will tell.

The next Constance Elan appears to have some design differences from the original version. As of this writing I have yet to see the new one in person, but from the photos I’ve found, it appears to be even shorter than the 13cm high original.

At auction, regular leather Constance Elans have remained relatively stable, with averages vacillating between $7,500 and $13,000 over the past eight years. The highest price paid for a leather Constance Elan at auction, was at Heritage in 2011, where a Blue Paon Epsom example with Palladium Hardware fetched $32,500, well above the second highest result, $20,000, also achieved at Heritage in 2013 for an Argile Swift example with Enamel hardware. Leather Constance Elans have sold as low as $4,850, as was achieved by a Flamingo Epsom example with Palladium hardware at Christie’s in 2019. Last year they averaged just over $9,500 and results in 2023 have so far averaged less, at just under $8,700. With store-fresh leather Constances now regularly trading above $15,000, it’s likely we’ll see prices increasing for leather Elans in the near future.

Exotic Constance Elans have been made from shiny or matte crocodile or alligator. Shiny Nilo crocodile is the most common exotic, though shiny Porosus crocodile and Alligator also exist. Exotic Constance Elans with a matte finish are quite rare, and none have yet sold at major auction houses. Arguably the most exceptional Constance Elan to come to market was auctioned by Christie’s in 2022. This was a Himalaya Constance Elan with Palladium hardware produced by custom order in 2020. Hima Constance Elans had been spotted in top-level collections, with both Gold and Palladium hardware, indicating Hermes has been ready and preparing to reintroduce this style for a few years. The example Christie’s sold brought just under $113,000 setting a new record for the style. The previous record had been held by Heritage Auctions since their 2014 sale of a shiny Black Crocodile Constance Elan with Gold hardware for $52,500. Heritage also holds the next top spot with their sale of a Ficelle example also in 2014 for $46,875. Last year crocodile Constance Elans (excluding the Hima) averaged just over $20,000 and so far in 2023 averages are just under that number. Prices for exotic Elans at auction have been much more volatile and have generally trended downward. The nadir came in 2021 when only one example crossed the block, a Vert Anis Croc Constance Elan that Christie’s sold for $13,750, but the lowest result for a croc Elan was even less at $12,500 for a Ficelle example sold by Christie’s in 2018.

Lizard Constance Elans are quite rare, with only four having sold at auction, all by Christie’s. Two Black examples with Gold hardware achieved numbers a stone’s throw from $25,000 in 2014 and again in 2021, while a 5P Pink example, also with Gold hardware, brought just under $45,000 in 2017. This was the fourth highest price ever paid for a Constance Elan at auction. Another 5P example with Palladium hardware brought just under $22,850 back in 2014.

The Constance Elan’s reintroduction at Paris Fashion Week was not just a nod to Hermès' storied past, but a promise of its innovative future. With its historic charm and evolving designs, it continues to capture imaginations, signaling an even brighter horizon for the iconic brand. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a budding enthusiast, the Constance Elan’s journey is a testament to the timeless allure of Hermes’ craftsmanship and style.


Originally published on BagWatch

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