We’ve all gone through the sigh-inducing experience of coming across that perfect dress, bag, pair of shoes or divine accessory that stops you in your tracks, forces your eyes to zero in and glaze over as you start to imagine the many glorious ways you’ll soon be wearing your new, fashionable must-have item . . . only to find it’s completely unaffordable for you at the time. Major. Bummer. The buttery lambskin Hermès Carmen Key Ring is one such item. For years, I’ve lusted after one of these little jewels, and as one year comes and goes, and new colors are introduced while others are discontinued, another season goes by where I have not dropped the $230 for the key ring of my dreams. For those times when there is extra money in the bank, I still find it hard to drop the Benjamins for this tiny item.
However, and most fortunately, as more people are becoming familiar with and wanting the Carmen — minus its price tag — less expensive versions have popped up all over the place. Alas, you can satisfy your craving. For one, Hermès has the Carmencita, which is marketed as a page marker and retails for $95. She comes in two sizes, large and small, meaning the strap length is either 10” or 8”, but the size of the pom-pom is the same on both. The Carmencita can be used in the same way one would use Carmen, as a key chain or a purse charm. The colors range from bright Aztec Blue, Kiwi, Fire, Purple Iris to Noir Black, Taupe and Chocolate Brown, so finding that perfect color will not be an issue.
If you don’t particularly like the Carmen, and if price is not an issue, ultra-hip Balenciaga came out with their own version called the Classique Bobble Key Holder. The Bobble has more of an edge to it than the more feminine Carmen. However, the price on the Bobble is a whopper: $210 – $295, depending on where you get it and if you can find one.
Now, let’s move on to some “inspired by” versions at budget-friendly prices. Asos.com has their cute “Orelia” leather bag tassel” in dark green and chocolate on sale for $17. Unfortunately, the peach-colored “Orelia” shown below is sold out, but because it’s my own, I thought to show you what the actual Asos product looks like. Next, Reiss is selling the “Pattie”, which is a long, elegant loose tassel for $37, discounted from $75.
Real Simple Magazine started a small furor after it displayed the turquoise Hermès Carmen on their June cover this year. Readers went bananas, flooding the magazine’s Facebook page asking where to get the key chain and took to Twitter and Pinetrest on a quest to find the manufacturer of the key chain they fell in love with because Real Simple did not provide the information. When the readers were sadly disappointed in the high price tag, one of them found an alternative at ShopBlithe.com, where you can find popsicle hues of red, orange, green our turquoise for only $18.
The Hermès “Carmen”:
The Hermès “Carmencita”:
The petite Asos “Orelia”:
The elegant Reiss “Pattie”:
The rainbow assortment by Shop Blithe: