Dr. Vicki Belo has an obvious penchant for designer bags, and we recently spotted what's arguably her new favorite: her customized Hermès Kelly bag. There are many things to love about this specific arm candy: one would have to be its rarity. "I found out that for every 10 Birkins that are made, there’s only one Kelly made," Dr. Vicki tells Preview in an interview. Second, of course, would be exclusivity. Aside from the fact that the bag is only offered to certain Hermès bag buyers, "not everyone can customize it. You have to be on the list," she adds.
Dr. Vicki also reveals that in order to be offered one, you have to have to be accompanied by at least three people who are regular purchasers of Hermès products when you go to the boutique. How can the store distinguish regular customers from first-time buyers? Hermès actually keeps a record of who buys from their stores and takes note of which products their customers purchase, too.
After that, if you do chance upon a Kelly available in-store, whatever color it comes in, you better buy it, stat. "If they ever have a Kelly, it’s very hard to get the color you want. Kasi basta kung ano na lang yung available na color dyan and if you don’t buy it, parang feeling mo hindi ka na o-offer-an ulit. "
Despite being on the list, the Kelly bag had been elusive to the celebrity doctor for years. Every time Dr. Vicki traveled to Paris, she would always ask if one was available in the store. "So, finally, the sales girl there, siguro sa kakulitan ko, she said, 'Why don’t you just order the bag? Why do you keep coming here and taking your chances? It’s really hard to get a Kelly—you should really just order and design your own."
Below, we asked the celebrity doctor more details about her personalized Kelly bag.
How did you start the customization process?
"I told the sales girl that I have never heard of [a customized Kelly bag]. Then she said that I could. So the sales girl showed me different swatches of material. And the way they do it in Hermès, there’s only one box. They’ll bring you to a secret room, away from people so they don’t see. Then they have gloves [while handling the bag]. I mean it’s not like other stores na you can ask what colors they have and they'll show you and then you can just buy. Dito hindi. Isang bag lang ang pwede mong makita."
What details make your Kelly unique?
"I really like two-tone colored Birkin or Kelly kasi gusto ko yung unique, ayoko yung may kapareha ako. I mean, it’s harder to find a two-tone Birkin, kasi 'di ba there’s usually just the solid color? So [my customized Kelly is] unique... I’m not naman the type of person who can afford to buy the [croc-skinned] one.
"Anyway, [Hermès also] makes you choose the material. They ask you what your lining inside is. They ask you what colors you like. You can do anything you want, but usually it comes in two to three colors. I was kind of surprised. But anyway, I chose raspberry and I thought [to add] grey because those colors go well together.
"You can also choose if you want [the leather to be] hard or if you want it soft. So there’s a soft Kelly that doesn’t have much structure in the bag, and there’s the one that’s structured—that’s [more] popular. They also ask what kind of clasp you like. I like gold hardware and it turns out that you can choose the shiny iteration in almost all the bags—but I’ve never seen them in matte so I opted for that."
How long did it take for the customized bag to be finished?
"[The sales girl] goes, 'Maybe it’ll be ready in a year.' Eh, I forgot about it kasi actually I didn’t believe it. Part of me really didn’t believe it that you can order your own bag. But I got my customized Kelly after a year. Actually, they deliver it in six months kaya lang hindi ko tinanong kasi nga nakalimutan ko na... Part of me talaga didn’t believe that you can do that. Parang, huh, talaga? They’ll make it for you? Wow."
Oh, no! How did you remember?
"Last February, I did the same thing again and asked, 'Do you have a Kelly?' And then this friend of Hayden who’s in sales, 'Vicki, your bag has been waiting for you for a year. You never came to pick it up."
How did you feel when you finally got the bag?
"When she brought it, it’s so pretty. I’m so proud. I was so happy because it was such a surprise kasi wala na naman silang Kelly. So kung ginawa ko na naman yung ginagawa ko, wala na naman akong makukuha. But this time, not only did I get a Kelly, I got a Kelly that I designed so I feel it’s probably the only Kelly of its kind kasi hindi naman nila kokopyahin yung design ko. Meron naman silang designer ng bag. So ayun, super kilig ako kasi I don’t really have a lot of Kellys. I think I only have one. So this is my second Kelly."
How much did the bag cost?
"It has the same cost as a regular bag. And normally, like in Louis Vuitton, if you order a personalized bag, you put your name and everything—it’s very pricey. But in Hermès, there’s no extra charge."
You said that the Kelly bag is only offered to certain people. How can one attain this level of prestige?
"You really can’t just go in there and get a customized bag. You really have to be an old customer and you have to buy many things. You have to buy clothes, scarves, plates... Ang ayaw na ayaw nila yung [nagre-re-sale] ng bags."
How's your relationship with the brand like?
"My relationship with them [has been going on for] 12 years. Actually, we don’t really buy a lot. Parang the other people are saying, [I am] not buying enough of the other things to be able to order. But then their sales people would [argue] that we have a 12-year relationship with Hermès... They take care of their customers na matagal na."