Twelve years ago a gold-hued leather Kelly bag caught a young nurse’s eye. “I literally saved for two years to buy my first bag,” says Hollye Harrington Jacobs, who now owns an impressive array of Hermès handbags housed in two closets—one here in Chicago, the other in the home she and her husband recently built in Santa Barbara, California.
The meticulously curated collection includes everything from a 1960 chocolate alligator Kelly bag procured at Decades in Los Angeles to a host of candy-colored and highly-covetable Birkins, including her latest acquisition in a shade called Blue Abyss. There are also several evening clutches, Kelly pochettes and hard-to-find vintage bags purchased at auction. “Some people invest in stocks, antique cars and jewelry,” says Jacobs. “I invest in Hermès.” Not only do the bags retain their investment value, but “they’re meant to be lived in, lived with and used,” she says.
Most recently Jacobs, a palliative-care nurse, took her favorite vintage Kelly on a trip with a heartwarming purpose: to help make a dream come true for a brain-tumor patient through Dream Foundation, the first national wish-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness. She helped plan a tour of New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which included seats to the Diane von Furstenberg show, a private meeting with Oscar de la Renta and lunch with designer Lyn Devon.
Friends of Jacobs’ agree that her handbag collection is as big as her heart, and as varied and colorful as the dreams she helps facilitate through her unfailing work with the foundation. “After all the years as a hospice nurse, I know that life is fleeting and unpredictable, and I don’t take it for granted for a second,” she explains. “Our Dream Foundation motto is: Compassion is always in fashion. That’s what it’s all about.”
The new 6,000-square-foot Hermès store at 25 East Oak Street boasts one of the country’s largest selection of silk scarves and leather goods, including those hard-to-get handbags, and the brand’s first home department in Chicago.