Monday, May 30, 2016

The most expensive handbag ever sold: Diamond-encrusted Hermes Birkin sells for over $300K

This Hermes signature Birkin is made with white matte Himalayan crocodile leather, and features hardware made from 18k white gold and diamonds. It sold for $300,168, making it the most expensive handbag ever sold.
(CNN) It's been described as a piece of "fashion history" by auction house Christie's.
A matte white Diamond Himalaya Niloticus crocodile diamond Birkin 30 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware, was sold by a private Asian collector for $300,168 on Monday, making it the most expensive handbag ever sold.
"The diamond pieces created by Hermes are exceptional, but none are nearly as iconic as the Himalaya," Christie's said in a press release prior to the sale. "It is believed that only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags."
The results follow last year's record-breaking $222,000 sale of a fuchsia diamond-studded Hermes Birkin, and further cement the bag's celebrated fashion credentials.
"Its rarity and exclusivity, the quality of leather and craftsmanship, its style and the ability to customize," all contribute to making this the most valuable bag in the world today, according to New York-based appraiser Helaine Fendelman, of Helaine Fendelman & Associates.
The fact they are instantly recognizable without a large emblazoned logo only adds to their appeal, she added, although clever marketing by Hermes also helps.
"By not telling ladies how many are manufactured in a year, the idea that these are scarce makes them more desirable. It is human nature to want what others cannot get," Fendelman said.
Both Christie's and Fendelman agree that even the most basic Birkins hold their price, making them a sound investment as well as an impressive fashion statement.
"I remember when I wanted to purchase a Birkin bag at auction for about $7,500 and my husband thought I had lost my mind," she said. "That same bag today sells for double that price, at least."
Interest in these aftermarket bags ("second-hand" doesn't have quite the same ring to it) has grown rapidly, and Christie's now includes an accessories and handbags section in many of it's major sales around the world.  
While many women used to bid on the bags for their practicality and style, the promise of increasing value has become an important consideration.
Winsy Tsang, head of sales for handbags and accessories at Christie's in Hong Kong, said the value of these types of auction items generally increase, and that although Hermes leads the way, handbags from Bulgari, Chanel and Gucci were also popular as investment pieces.
"They are certainly an increasingly meaningful asset class," Tsang added.
As for Fendelman's Birkin, much to her husband's relief -- and her own, in retrospect -- she missed out on the sale.
"Am I sorry I didn't purchase the bag? No, not really, because I would be afraid to use it every day for fear of ruining it," she said.

Counterfeit Switcheroo

Virginia woman pocketed $1M buying designer handbags, returning Chinese knockoffs in their place

Praepitcha Smatsorabudh is accused of purchasing expensive Gucci, Fendi, Burberry and Celine bags online and returning fake versions of the purses to stores.

A Virginia woman was bagged by authorities for allegedly masterminding an elaborate designer-purse scheme, netting over $1 million in profit.
Praepitcha Smatsorabudh is accused of buying high-end handbags online, then traveling to multiple states to make in-person returns at department stores with knockoff versions purchased from China.
Smatsorabudh would double her profits by selling the authentic Gucci, Fendi and Burberry bags — some with a whopping $2,000 price tag — on Ebay or Instagram to unsuspecting buyers, prosecutors say.
Investigators probed the woman's purchases between 2014 and the end of 2015. She was such a prolific scammer, they found, that she would make weekly purchases of the costly totes — and was even one major retailer’s top online customer worldwide, according to documents which do not identify the vendor in question.
The alleged cutpurse faces up to 20 years in prison on wire fraud charges.
The scheming Smatsorabudh, who is in her early 40's, would travel to at least 12 different states to return the phony bags, having sourced the most believable fakes from Hong Kong and mainland China.
In a September 2014 email to one of the counterfeit bag retailers, she allegedly wrote:
"The best fake bag I’ve ever seen! Can you send me more ... from this factory. They make bag IMPaCABLE!!!!" (sic),” according to court documents obtained by ABC.
Authorities believe the scam was so profitable that Smatsorabudh raked in seven figures from one department store alone. That retailer's fraud investigators alerted authorities and helped the Arlington County Police Department and undercover Homeland Security agents bust the woman, court papers show.
Smatsorabudh, who was born in Thailand, will be arraigned next week in a federal court in Alexandria, Va.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hermès world: a refurbished Singapore flagship stocks scarves to stationery

In a city obsessed with luxury labels, Singapore has always had a soft spot for Hermès. Since the early 1970s, its corps of tai-tais have tirelessly worked their Kellys from one social event to the next like a badge of honour, their Soie Belle scarves a colourful semaphore of an expensive, but quietly tasteful, joie de vivre.
All of which explains the frisson that has greeted the unveiling of the newly refurbished flagship boutique on Singapore’s fabled retail stretch, Orchard Road.
Under the artistic direction of Denis Montel, the Paris-based architects RDAI replaced the former striated facade with a porous shell clad in white Alucobond and glass that is cut through with geometric rows of sharply angled embrasures – the arresting pattern provides interior shade while creating interesting shadows during the course of the day.
A new entrance on Angullia Park opens into a generously proportioned space that has soothing echoes of the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré store in Paris – a beautifully textured floor of trani biancone stone and mosaic framing cedar window shutters, European cherry vitrines, an under-used stainless steel and glass lift and, for those more leisurely retail flâneurs, a staircase of warm African teak.
The entire Hermès universe – as the marque prefers to call its merchandise – is on offer, from ties and scarves to stationery and perfumes. A new third floor now houses the furniture collection and home accessories alongside the equestrian collection and a VIP suite swathed in ecru velvet and silk.
An unexpected pleasure is the fourth floor Aloft at Hermès, a cosy 111 sq m art space that is one of just five in the world run by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. The inaugural show – the ethereal ‘How to disappear into a rainbow’ by local artist Dawn Ng –  runs until 14 August.

Hermès inks lease for Latin American office in Coral Gables

Hermès of Paris has signed an office lease for its perfume division in downtown Coral Gables.
Hermès leased nearly 2,900 square feet at 2020 Ponce, where it will house its Latin American office, Avison Young announced on Monday. The brokerage’s principal Donna Abood arranged the lease for the high-end French retailer along with Skyline Realty International.

The office and retail building at 2020 Ponce De Leon Boulevard
Florida East Coast Realty developed and owns the mixed-use tower, which includes ground floor retail and seven floors of office space. About 20,000 square feet in the 130,000-square-foot building are available to buy or lease, according to a press release.
Tenants include Avison Young – Florida, AMC Networks Latin America, Providence Companies, Peebles Corporation, as well as Florida Community Bank, Total Bank, Coral Gables Vein Specialists, and Elite Body Sculpting on the ground floor.
FECR first opened the office and retail building in 2009 with for-sale office space, but later shifted to leasing. The company announced last year that it would begin selling office and retail space again, citing demand from Latin Americans that traditionally buy the spaces they occupy.
Hermès opened its flagship store in the Miami’s Design District at the end of last year. The three-story, 13,000-square-foot boutique at 163 Northeast 39th Street represents one of the French brand’s largest stores in the country. – Katherine Kallergis

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bank Error in Your Favor Go to Hermes

Australian court bails student who 'spent bank error millions'

An Australian court has granted bail to a Malaysian woman who withdrew more than A$4.6m (£2.3m) mistakenly made available to her by a bank.
A lawyer representing Christine Jiaxin Lee, 21, said she had spent about A$1m on luxury items including handbags.
Ms Lee, a student, was arrested at Sydney airport on Wednesday while trying to travel to Malaysia.
Prosecutors say she withdrew the money from Westpac bank within a year and did not notify authorities of the error.
She has been charged with obtaining financial advantage by deception and with knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.
The court in Sydney heard that Ms Lee, a chemical engineering student who has lived in Australia for five years, had opened a Westpac bank account in August 2012 and had mistakenly been given an unlimited overdraft.
Magistrate Lisa Stapleton granted Ms Lee bail on Thursday, although under strict conditions.
Ms Lee's lawyer said the student had been trying to return to Malaysia to visit her parents.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Hermes Enamel Clic-Clac Bangle Bracelets - Private Collection

A young friend (25 years old) has a very impressive collection of Hermes bracelets (approx. 70).
Major eye candy...

The bag you are not allowed to buy

They're so covetable, snooty stores will only sell them to the A-list. So what happened when we sent ordinary women to ask for a Hermes handbag

  • Hermes handbags are favourites of celebrities like Victoria Beckham 
  • They carry and £6,000 plus price tag, but distribution is strictly controlled
  • Sales assistants say they aren't in stock and don't know delivery dates
  • Bags take 18 to 25 hours to make by specialist 'artisans' in France
The immaculately turned-out shop assistant in the Hermes concession at Harrods is adamant. 'I am sorry, madam, we can't take an order and there is no waiting list,' she snaps. 'When they do arrive, they just fly out of the shop. To be honest, it is not easy to get one. Good luck.'
On London's Sloane Street, awash with wealthy Arab women and designer shops, it's the same story. A liveried doorman waves me into the gleaming Hermes emporium and I make my way to the handbag display.
But when I announce 'I'd like to buy a Birkin handbag, please,' the sales assistant raises an eyebrow and a chill seems to fall around the counter.

Celebrity fans: Victoria Beckham clearly has the connections to get her hands on an Hermes bag Victoria Beckham clearly has the connections to get her hands on an Hermes bag

For this is no normal shopping experience. This is what happens when an ordinary woman like me asks for the handbag money can't buy.
Commonly spotted hanging off the arms of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, the Hermes Birkin and VB's other favourite, the single-handled Hermes Kelly, are the ultimate in designer arm-candy. 
Costing an eye-watering £6,000-plus each, these bags are so covetable, they are said to be a better investment than stocks and shares - for unlike a new car or piece of jewellery, they appreciate in value the moment you buy them. Just one problem: you have to get hold of one in the first place.

Exclusive: Catherine Zeta-Jones is also a fan of her Hermes bag, pictured here in New York 

Auction house expert Max Brownawell explains: 'Your average woman can't just walk into Hermes and buy one. You'd have to have a long-standing relationship with one of their sales associates.'
This exclusivity and the subsequent mystique that surrounds the Birkin and Kelly has proved to be a phenomenally successful marketing trick.
Where other designer brands have become tacky and ubiquitous, Hermes alone, it seems, has been able to control access to its handbags to the point where they are badges of wealth even for the super-rich. Naturally, they are popular with the A list.

Zoe Brennan went to an Hermes shop in an attempt to purchase an exclusive £7,000 'Kelly bag'
Zoe Brennan went to an Hermes shop in an attempt to purchase an exclusive £7,000 'Kelly bag'
Kate Moss has a Birkin in denim, and celebrity fans include Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Sarah Jessica Parker, who between them have Birkins in all the colours of the rainbow, in skins from ostrich to crocodile, and price tags reaching up to £35,000.
Legend has it that the Birkin was born when the eponymous Jane Birkin, actress love of Je t'aime singer Serge Gainsbourg, was seated next to Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight. She carried a tatty, over-filled straw bag and said she could never find a decent handbag. Dumas invited her to his workshop and the prototype was conceived. The rest is history.
The Kelly bag has just as glamorous a tale behind it. Originally designed as a saddle-bag in about 1892, it is named after the film star Grace Kelly, wife of Prince Rainier of Monaco, because she fell in love with one used as a prop during filming of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief.

She put the large bag to good use in 1956, when, not yet ready to announce her pregnancy, she held one up to hide her emerging baby bump from the paparazzi. A picture found itself on the cover of Life magazine. With that, the bag was instantly synonymous with Grace and it was re-named the Kelly.
The Hermes website boasts: 'A Kelly is a rare and precious thing' and last week, a spokesman for the company stressed that the number of bags it can produce is limited because only a small number of craftsmen have the necessary skills to make them.
They pointed out that a single worker takes 18 to 25 hours to make each Kelly bag by hand, while the Birkin takes even longer, saying: 'Our production remains highly dependent on the know-how of our artisans.'

Kelly: The 'Kelly' is named after actress Grace Kelly

When I contacted Hermes to find out why I couldn't buy one, they said: 'Each Hermes store director worldwide is responsible for buying for their own store. They place seasonal orders twice a year, which are generally received six to 12 months later.'
Certainly, these bags are elusive - as I discover at the Sloane Street store, a haven of luxurious soft furnishings, gleaming glass cabinets and polished surfaces.
The customers are mainly Arab or Asian, the women dripping with diamonds, men dressed in cashmere weekend wear.
After I've stated my intention to buy a Birkin, a male assistant wordlessly ushers me towards a leather-covered desk and asks me to sit down.
'We do not have any in the shop,' he explains. 'There will be none until next month. And I cannot tell you when the next delivery will arrive. For security reasons, we don't even know what will arrive in the delivery.'
Perhaps I could buy a Kelly bag, then? 'The Kelly is even less available,' he says sternly.
But there is a ray of hope.
Would I like to see the leather samples? He opens a book of butter-soft leather and I am allowed to flick through. I pause when I reach an electric blue leather.
Could I perhaps order a bag, then - in this? His eyebrow arches again.
'No, madam. We do not take orders. It is not possible to order a colour. We get orange or red sometimes, and the odd time an off-white grey. Everyone assumes that you can simply order these bags - but it is not like that. It is a waiting game.'
Maybe I could see a bag?
He disappears, returning with three cloth dust-bags. Reverentially, he unveils their contents: the coveted orange 35cm Birkin in Epsom, a stamped stiff leather, and its cousin, the 30cm black model in Togo, a slouchier leather, and the 35cm Kelly in a soft Blue Jean Togo.

Amazingly, the writer was told that the shop assistant could keep an eye out for her when the bags come in

All the bags bear the distinctive Hermes, Paris, Made in France mark. It is rather like being in a museum, yet I am allowed briefly to reach out and touch these coveted icons.
My hand lingers on the price tag - £6,010. 'Oh, I don't know who wrote that,' says the assistant. 'That is an old price. The Kelly is about £7,500 now and the Birkin Togo £6,750. But in any case, they are not in stock.'
So why are they so expensive?
'If you look at this stitching, it is double stitched so that if one thread breaks it will not come apart,' he says, caressing the Birkin.
'We use only the top 10 per cent of the leather we look at. Our artisans are trained for three to four years before they are allowed to touch the hide. Each bag is made by a single artisan - and if you put several bags in front of one of them, he can pick out the one he made.'
He opens the Kelly. 'Look inside. Other bags are lined with fabric or cheaper leather, but we use the same quality of leather inside and outside.'
Trying to buy one is impossible, however. I gaze forlornly at the sample bags before me.
The assistant then shows me a catalogue of other styles, and as we leaf through, chatting about lesser models such as the Lindy, designed in 2007, and the Bolide, with zips down the side, the mood abruptly changes.
'We don't normally take requests but, since you are local, I can keep an eye out for you,' he says. 'I can take your number and call you to let you know when a bag comes in. What colour are you interested in?'
I cannot quite believe it. Amazingly, he is lifting the velvet rope and letting me inside this gilded world. Dazzled at the new VIP me, I can't think what colour to choose.
'The etoupe is a good choice,' he says. 'It goes with everything. Palladium or gold fittings?'
He takes my details, I thank him profusely and spill out onto the street, back among the ordinary people with their cheap single-stitched handbags. Momentarily, I have been seduced into feeling that I am extraordinarily lucky indeed to be given the opportunity to spend £7,000 on a handbag.
Saskia Murphy, 25, visited the Hermes store in Manchester but was told that they had none in the shop
The regretful smile that means 'Go away'
KATE BATTERSBY, 52, visited the Hermes concession in Selfridges.
I am trying very hard to buy a Birkin bag and getting nowhere.
Behind the Hermes counter is a supremely chic woman in her mid-20s, built on a different template to the rest of womankind.
Her waist is the size of my upper arm, her dark hair pulled back in a bun, no scrap of make-up except a crimson slash of lipstick. Her black ensemble is broken only by an Hermes scarf slung around her neck (basement price: £250).
'Hello,' I say. 'All my life I have yearned to own a Birkin or a Kelly bag. Now at last I'm in a position to do it and I'm going to buy one today.'
Mademoiselle Perfect flashes a pitying smile and informs me crisply: 'No. We don't have any available in this store.' I gaze blankly and ask to see one. She repeats the line.
'We don't have any here,' she says again. 'You can check in other stores whether they have any, but we don't have access to other stores.'
Access? Nothing as advanced as a telephone, maybe? Mademoiselle produces her regretful smile again.
I ask why there are none in stock.
'They were sold,' she says. 'Yes, all of them. Hopefully we will get more in. But I don't know when.'
Oh well, I tell her cheerfully. I'll go on the waiting list.
'We don't do one any more,' she says. 'It is first come, first served — you must pop in and ask.' I try one final approach: 'What if the Queen wants one? Does she have to 'pop in and ask'?'
Mademoiselle nods and smiles, as if to a small child who has understood something grown-up. 'That is how it works.'

We are not selling any handbags today
CAMILLA RIDLEY-DAY, 36, visited the Hermes concession in Selfridges and the New Bond Street store.
The young sales assistant, immaculately dressed in navy trousers, white blouse and Hermes scarf, glares at me in defiance.
Having explained to her that I'm keen to buy a Kelly bag, I am expecting her to lead me over to the glass display case where I can see 16 or so handbags.
Instead, her response is clipped and without apology. 'We are not selling any handbags today,' she declares - and when I persist, she calls over an older colleague who tells me they don't have any of the bags in stock.
I ask her if she could check on her computer where I might locate one. But no, she can't, insisting that they 'don't communicate' with other stores. 'No list of stock is held on the system,' she adds. 'Company policy.' Reluctantly, she gives me a card with the numbers of the other London Hermes stores and concessions on it, and suggests I could call each one myself.
I leave and decide to try my luck at the Hermes store in New Bond Street. But when I ask a male sales assistant on the first floor, he tells me rather snootily that 'there are none in stock'.
When I press him on when a bag might come in, he says they don't get deliveries at the weekend and that when their weekday deliveries arrive from Paris, they are not told what stock to expect.
'It just arrives,' he says. 'There might be a Birkin or a Kelly, or none at all. We don't know until the delivery arrives. We haven't had any for the last couple of weeks.'

Saskia is told that the shop does not even have a waiting list, as the demand was so high


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




May 18, 2008
Bag Man