Monday, September 5, 2016

100-pound stone-carved Birkin bag is still cheaper than the real thing

Barbara Segal’s handbags are so heavy, they would give any chiropractor a fit.
“You can’t carry them around,” the Yonkers artist says, “but so many women with Birkins just stare at [their bags].
“They’ll say, ‘My bag is a work of art.’ Mine, too!”
Segal carves her 100-pound versions of the Birkin — the iconic Hermès tote — out of stone like orange calcite. “[Stone] transforms it into an almost religious item of worship,” she says. “It’s turning [the Birkin] into a historical relic.”
Segal, a graduate of Pratt, got her start making product models for Avon Cosmetics in the 1980s. “I learned how to do [perfume] bottles with incredible precision, to a thousandth of an inch,” she says. “One day, I thought, ‘I bet I could make a striped shirt out of stone.’ ”

Segal next focused on bags — first Chanel’s quilted classics, then Hermès’ iconic totes.
Her biggest challenge? Authenticity. Thanks to Hermès’ notoriously elusive Birkin policies, Segal couldn’t find a bag, much;postID=45103656107111318 less afford one. “They won’t even let you hold one in the store!” she exclaims. “Fortunately, the Internet is an amazing place,” she says, citing, a secondhand marketplace, as a trusted source for Birkin dimensions and high-resolution photos.
Her “bags” are true to size and bear immaculate detailing, including the status tote’s signature leather folds, tight stitching and even the lock  — which she carves from the same rock as the bags, then paints in metallic shades.
Segal acquires material from quarries all over the world — from the Grand Canyon region to Iran — and uses traditional carving tools, including chisels and stone cutters. A bag typically takes her three months to finish.
After she started tagging her Birkins on Instagram, galleries worldwide offered their services. Among them is Krause Gallery on the Lower East Side, which will display her “Black Candy” bag from Sept. 7 through Oct. 5 as part of its “Emerging to Established” group show.
Segal’s works run from $45,000 to $65,000 — a hefty sum, but a real Birkin recently sold for more than $300,000 at Christie’s. (Bought new from Hermès, the bags reportedly go from $12,000 to more than $200,000, depending on materials and customization.)
The fashion industry’s been biting. “I sold a Chanel piece to someone who works at Chanel,” Segal, a professor at the School of Visual Arts, confirms.
She even created a 3-foot-tall Chanel bag, from white Utah marble, that weighs a literal ton. “Moving it from my studio was a major ordeal,” she says. “It took four men.”
As for her art bags trying to convey any message about consumerism, Segal demurs. “I’m not trying to say if it’s good or bad — they’re . . . beautiful!”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Addicted to Pawn: Why Designer Handbags are the new Gold

Kim Kardashian with Chanel bag

"It's a Chanel day bag - a timeless classic. If you had 50 in the shop, you'd sell all 50," says Nathan Finch, managing director of Pickwick pawnbrokers.
We are in the strongroom of his shop in north London, where he is showing off some of the hundreds of bags that customers pledge each year, in return for borrowing money.
Once it was mostly watches, gold or jewellery that people took to pawnbrokers. Now, designer handbags are the big growth area.
They are increasingly high in value - often worth thousands of pounds each, they are easily portable, and there is a seemingly limitless supply.
"For some women, it's a bit of an addiction. They get their fix from buying a bag. But like most cravings, it comes again," says Mr Finch.
"One customer brought 18 bags into our Dartford store."

The Birkin

Private jets

With celebrity endorsements from the likes of Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian, bags offer plenty of glamour.
But on a more practical level, you can use them to borrow cold, hard cash.
Yet some of those who pledge their bags are already extremely well off.
Debbie Wynter, who runs the pawnbrokers Suttons and Robertsons in central London, calls them "the ladies who lunch".
"One customer wanted to raise a loan so they could go on holiday on a private jet, in style," she says.

They may live in flashy houses in South Kensington, but sometimes they don't have access to ready cash.
However, often they are ordinary working women.

'Borrowing from myself'

Kim Baker, an office administrator from Kent, has three or four designer bags, which she regularly pawns at her local shop.
Her favourites are a Mulberry Bayswater, a Louis Vuitton Postman, and a Chanel clutch bag.
"I flip between the Mulberry and the Louis Vuitton because I don't like to part with the Chanel. They probably go in every couple of months, but they're never in there for long."
On occasion, she's been tempted to pledge one bag so that she can afford to buy a different one.
"Yes, I would pawn one to buy another one. It'll just come home until I put it in again."
She typically borrows a couple of hundred pounds at a time, to pay for holidays or school uniforms. And she prefers to take a loan from a pawnbroker rather than a payday lender or friends.
"Because it's my item, it feels like I am borrowing from myself, if that makes sense."

World record price

The bags that hold their value best - and therefore are the easiest to pawn - are the classic designs by Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
Two of the most valuable are the Birkin - named after actress Jane Birkin - or the Kelly, as carried by Grace Kelly in one of her classic films.

These are normally worth up to £6,000 each, but one exotic Birkin in pink crocodile skin is currently for sale on a French website for £167,000.
Admittedly it uses pink sapphires to fasten it, and white gold for the lock.
"There are certainly pieces that make sense at that level," says Matthew Rubinger, the head of handbags for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at Christies in Hong Kong.
"What's really interesting is that we are just starting to see these trends, as people move up from being casual buyers to collectors."
Last year Christies sold a pink Birkin with diamonds in it for £168,000, and three months ago they sold another (pictured above) for £227,000 - a world record price.
However, Mr Rubinger advises people not to invest in exotic designer bags unless they really know what they're doing.
"I wouldn't recommend anyone to empty their savings account."

Diamond-encrusted Birkin

Thursday, July 21, 2016

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Floyd Mayweather - Because Hermes Crocodile Bags are SO RARE - LOL!

Floyd Mayweather splashes the cash once again as boxing star forks out $400,000 on BAGS during trip to Paris

He posted a video of him doing exactly that with the caption: 'Went bag shopping at Hermes in Paris, France today. I treated myself to one size 55 Hermes Hac crocodile men travel bag and 3 size 50 Hermes Hac crocodile men travel bags and bought @melissiarene a 40 orange crocodile Birkin. 
'Over $400,000 spent in Hermes cause I stay in my lane.'
The expensive shopping trip at one of Paris' most expensive stores followed a trip to one of the city's most famous landscapes, The Louvre.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

The ‘IT’ Hermès Apple Watch now comes in four new spring colourways

Hermès Apple Watch Photographed by David Sims and styled by Karl Templer 
Wearable tech has been lingering in the fashion lexicon for a couple of years now, but few new launches have made it past the hype stage and into our wardrobes (RIP Google glasses). “Techcessories” just don’t sound very sexy, do they?
The Apple watch is one of the few wearables to woo the fashion industry, thanks in part, to it's clever hook up with brands like Hermès and Vogue; Apple whisked Anna Wintour and a select number of key fashion editors — including Telegraph Fashion Director, Lisa Armstrong — to the exclusive September 9 product launch in San Francisco, at a pivotal point during the spring/summer 2015 New York Fashion Week shows.
Intrigue grew as watch-bearing selfies flooded our Instagram stream from key sartorial influencers from Karl Lagerfeld to Beyoncé, who were quick to show off their 18-carat yellow gold (naturally) versions of their Apple arm candy. Meanwhile French designer Azzedine Alaia hosted a dinner in Paris in the watch's honour. 
Beautiful design has always been a hallmark of the Apple brand, so teaming up with a luxury label that knows a thing or two about creating wait-list-worthy leather goods was a clever move. Apple granted the French heritage house free reign to rebrand the face of the watch, and design three strap options (including a single loop strap from £270, a double loop strap from £420 and a wider cuff priced at £670) in its signature equine-style leather and brand colours Fauve (tan), Noir and Capucine (red).
First launched last October, the Hermès Apple Watch is keeping up with Spring trends by adding four bright new colourways to its repertoire: the classic Hermès Bleu Paon (green), Bleu Saphir (blue), Blanc (white) and Feu (orange) all go on sale on April 19. 
This year, the agenda-setting theme of the Met gallery's costume institute exhibition is: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology." Does this hint that the smart watch is set to become the new 'it' bag?

Hermes Apple Watch

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Kardashian - Jenner Girls All Have the Same Exact Insanely Expensive Handbag

Hello, Birkin.

As the saying goes, nothing succeeds like excess — and no one seems to live that motto better than the Kardashian-Jenner crew. In a recent Snapchat post, Kylie snapped a row of Hermès 'Birkin' bags and one mini Birkin, with the caption "odd one out." Two of the large bags are classic black, one is a rich royal blue, and Kylie's mini is also black.

kylie birkin

The Birkin is perhaps Hermès's most iconic and well-known handbag, alongside the Kelly. (Both are named after some of history's most stylish women — Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly, respectively.) It's also one of the brand's most expensive designs. On legit re-sale sites like Portero and TheRealReal (Hermès doesn't sell Birkins online), the purse in its various fabrications sells for anywhere between $8,500 and $113,350 (the latter is for a bag made from Himalayan crocodile in "pristine condition." We're serious).
From the image, it's hard to tell what kind of materials the Kardashian-Jenner bags are made from, but it doesn't really matter. One thing is for sure: They've sure got a lot of them. Interestingly enough, a recent report showed that the value of the Birkin bag has only increased over the last 35 years, and that the price is only expected to double in the next decade. That's even more compelling once you factor in that the bag has a notoriously exclusive waiting list, something documented in Michael Tonello's Bringing Home the Birkin.  

by Taylor Davies  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bringing Home the Birkin

Now in it's 10th Printing.

Now Published in 13 Languages.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Émile Hermès' Private Collection Gallops Gallantly to Montreal for World Premiere

Émile Hermès' Private Collection Gallops Gallantly to Montreal for World Premiere

Old Montreal's museum of history and archaeology Pointe-à-Callière has scored something of a coup with the world premiere of an exhibition of 250 equestrian-themed items on loan from the private Émile Hermès Collection in Paris—yes, from the grandson of Hermès founder Thierry Hermès himself.
Titled Of Horses and Men — The Émile Hermès Collection, the exhibition produced by Pointe-à-Callière in collaboration with the French luxury fashion house will run May 20 through October 16. This is the first time that Hermès is opening up the collection to the public. Previously, the collection was privy only to a select few at Hermès' Parisian address on 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Significant in both history and heritage, the collection will look at the horse-human relationship. It is hardly a surprise that Émile Hermès was a passionate lover of horses and the equestrian world. Throughout his lifetime, the avid collector took it upon himself to amass thousands of horse-centric art objects, paintings, books, curios and collector's items.
Associated with nobility, royalty and the bourgeoisie, the horse can be said to be a symbol of power and prestige. Even the Hermès logo famously depicts a Duc carriage with horse. When Hermès was first founded in 1837 as a harness and saddle manufacturer, it was during the height of horses at a time before automobiles took the place of horses. But Hermès truly started to really come into its own in the luxury artisanal scene, catering to a lucrative elite group, when Émile Hermès (pardon the pun) went on to take over the reins.
On show will be many personal items belonging to the horse enthusiast, which includes a majestic rocking horse his children played with as a toy. Paintings by the great masters, bronzes, engravings and drawings will also be on display.
Of course, there will be no lack of saddles, spurs and horse collars from all over the world, as the exhibition description professes to "take visitors along the horse’s trail... (and) straddle four continents, on a journey from Antiquity to the Renaissance to the 20th century."
Sounds like an adventure, then.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Salespeople claim Hermès store cheats them out of commissions


The luxe Hermès store on Madison Avenue keeps its salespeople in the dark about how commissions are calculated, and then stiffs them, a new lawsuit charges.
“Hermès is saying take what we give you — we’re Hermès and you’re not,” Richard A. Roth, a lawyer representing two former salespeople, said Friday.
New hires are told to expect a 1.25-percent commission on most sales, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Ewern Chaney, 28, of Manhattan estimated that he had generated $3.8  million in revenue but only made $60,000 in commissions from November 2012 to March 2014. He was paid a wage of $19 an hour.
Chaney and Winifred Hu are seeking unspecified damages.
A Hermès spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meet the People Who Sell Used Clothing to Rihanna, Amal Clooney

Sales of high-end vintage attire and accessories are soaring—both in volume and price—and a handful of small businesses are taking advantage of market forces that are making what was old new again.

Veteran retailer Seth Weisser is in the middle of construction for his largest, most ambitious store to date: a 3,800 square-foot flagship just off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. It will sell designer clothes, accessories, and jewelry; he plans special stores-within-a-store for Chanel and Hermès. “It will be extremely elegant, with high-end marble, brass fittings, and turn of the century Cartier showcases,” Weisser explains by phone from his office in New York, “This is going to be the ultimate luxury shopping experience.”
There’s one crucial difference between Weisser’s newest boutique and those nearby, such as Louis Vuitton or Valentino: It will sell used clothing.

This will be the fifth outpost of his chain, What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA), where absolutely everything for sale is second-hand or rather, “luxury vintage.” A recent boom in enthusiasm for vintage fashion has led to a rapid expansion for stores such as WGACA and growing profits, even when global fashion brands are faltering. In fact, its merchandise assortment is even more exclusive and thrilling to shoppers than many offered by neighboring stores. That Chanel selection—“We have the largest collection of vintage Chanel in the whole world,” Weisser claims—will include dozens of noteworthy bags and clothes from Karl Lagerfeld’s stint as head designer, as well as sought-after, discontinued pieces from its costume jewelry range.
As for the Hermès "concession," the centerpiece when it opens will be a Himalayan crocodile Birkin; a similar model sold for $185,000 at auction two years ago. You simply can’t walk into an Hermès store anywhere in the world and expect to be able to walk out with one of these, now matter how much you are willing to pay.

Vintage Is Booming

WGACA isn’t the only superior second-hand operation in the area: Indeed, Ben Hemminger’s Fashionphile has been selling top tier, gently used designer purses by Dior and Louis Vuitton from a jewel box-sized showroom in Beverly Hills since 2008. It’s tucked into an alleyway at the end of the same block as WGACA, less than 500 feet from an enormous branch of Barneys. “Actually, our showroom is right next to Louis Vuitton—our garbage can is the same as theirs,” Hemminger laughs, speaking by phone from the firm’s warehouse headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif..
Both firms are booming: Weisser’s plush new site is 25 percent larger than its previous location in a busy block of La Brea, while Fashionphile logged $3 million in sales in February 2016, its strongest month ever, and business grew 50 percent to 60 percent year over year in 2015. They are prime examples of the new retail sector of luxury vintage, in which barely worn bags or designer dresses are sold at discount to women who might have shopped straight from the runway. They occupy sites adjacent to full-price rivals; sometimes, they even supply them. Weisser has contracts with such department stores as Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and Barneys in Japan to supply authentic, top-tier vintage for their sales floors.

Online Competition Is Growing

Online counterparts are jostling for the same business: Both TheRealReal and MaterialWorld operate similarly, trading on the newfound cachet for used clothes. The booming industry of prime vintage has been buttressed by the emergence of handbag-centric auctions such as those at ArtCurial in Paris or Fine Art Auctions in Miami. Christie’s was so keen to enter the luxury vintage business that in 2014 it poached the wunderkind head of Heritage Auctions’ bag-selling department, a twentysomething Matt Rubinger. Heritage perceived the defection as such a blow that it sued Christie's for $60 million.
It’s still startling, though, to see a second-hand store—even one with such blue chip, red carpet credentials (Rihanna’s a regular) as WGACA—snap up prime retail space in Beverly Hills. Stylist Lauren Goodman suggests that this won’t be the last vintage tenant roped in by Rodeo Drive.  She points out that much like fine wine, top-tier vintage clothes and accessories often appreciate in value. “You could buy a vintage Versace dress from the 1990s, wear it five times and resell it, and it’s probably gone up a little bit in value. I mean, everyone’s obsessed with the '90s right now,” Goodman says by phone from her home in San Francisco. (Remember the headline-making, albeit exaggerated claim that a Birkin bag by Hermès was a better investment than gold?)

New Stuff Is More Expensive Now, Too

Goodman adds that the lure of vintage is also driven by the rising prices of new merchandise. Designer labels have deliberately hiked prices of core items over the past decade or so; the cost of Chanel’s bags, for example, rises an average 15 percent annually. “It makes vintage feel better value than ever, and it’s already survived the test of time.”
Michael Tonello, who wrote the memoir Bringing Home the Birkin about his time as an Hermès reseller, agrees. “Ten years ago, a nice designer shirt was a couple hundred bucks,” he says by phone from his home in Barcelona. “Now, you look in a store window and every price has a comma in it—$1,000 or more.”
Other cultural and economic shifts are helping to bring WGACA and Fashionphile to the fore. Instagramming from the front row of a show might earn editors a few extra followers, but it softens the excitement that once surrounded the delivery of new clothes to a retailer, notes Goodman. “By the time someone wears a look from the runway out to a party now, the clothes already feel like last season. But if it’s vintage, it will exist outside of this cycle and won't have been liked 5,000 or 25,000 times on Instagram already. It’s special, unique, and it’s yours. You are making a bold, personal style decision.” This same impetus lay behind Burberry’s decision to create runways with instant buying options, starting in September.

 Rihanna wearing WGACA on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Feb, 4, 2016.

The Threat of Fraud

It might seem that the rise of luxury vintage is unstoppable, but a danger looms that could derail the entire industry: fakes. The resale market is lucrative and generally un-policed—charges around selling fakes are usually pleaded down to disorderly conduct, resulting in minor fines and no jail time—so it’s ripe for unscrupulous exploitation. The situation is made trickier by the emergence of a new class of counterfeits known as superfakes, essentially production overruns stolen from the factory and indistinguishable from authorized merchandise.
It’s a threat that WGACA’s Weisser takes seriously. “We handle more of this product than anyone’s ever seen, so we get a very good comfort level on how to spot a fake. Our senior buyers are like scientists, and they will get down to counting stitches or even using techniques we’d prefer not to disclose.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Rare Hermès handbags to go under the hammer at Christie’s France

There are fewer than 10 Hermès Vert Celadon Natura Kelly 28 in the world. — Hermes pic via AFP

PARIS, Feb 17 — It will be handbags at dawn for luxury auction house Christie’s France next month, when it launches its third annual luxury arm candy sale.
“Handbags & Accessories,” set to take place on March 5 in Paris, will feature rare and special edition pieces from fashion houses including Hermès, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton, with price estimates ranging from €2,000 (RM9,400) to €70,000.
Highlights will include a “Vert Celadon Natura Kelly 28” by Hermès (pictured), believed to be one of fewer than 10 in the world. The bag is a nod to the styles of the 1920s, when it was impossible to remove pigment from certain exotic skins, meaning that the original skin colour could be seen through the finished product. Around the year 2000, Hermès revisited this process, and the resulting handbag is considered to be one of the most desired in the world. It is being offered at a very conservative estimate of €15,000 to €20,000.
Additional pieces include a “Himalaya Birkin 35” in grade 1, being offered conservatively at €70,000 to €90,000, and a limited edition “Birkin 35” from the So Black collection. This discontinued alligator edition is characterised by its metal hardware plated in black, rather than the usual gold or palladium. It is estimated between €40,000 and €45,000.
Other important Hermès examples include a barénia leather and wicker Kelly Picnic 35 and a custom-ordered Kelly 32 in Bleu Saphir, Bleu Marine and Bleu Jean alligator.
Christie’s is also holding a rare handbag auction in Dubai on March 17 to celebrate its 10th anniversary in the city. The event will feature handbags, trunks, watches and jewellery, with star pieces including an Hermès “Grand Mariage Kelly 32” in ostrich, alligator and lizard. A custom-ordered “Birkin 30” in anémone, rose confetti and bleu aztèque will also be on offer, estimated between $15,000 to $20,000.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bernadette Peters - Broadway Barks

The gorgeous, talented and kind Bernadette Peters and I were both in NYC on book-tour at the same time so we did an event together at Lord & Taylor. Broadway Barks and Bringing Home the Birkin:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Birkin's are Out - Guns are In

Concealed Carry Purses Are the New Hermès Birkins

It's the bag trend you never saw coming.

The hottest trend in bags right now isn't fringe or studs or prints, it's guns. Specifically, purses designed to conceal guns.
According to Google, about 74,000 people search for the term "concealed carry purse" every month. That is the same number of people who look for "Hermès Birkin."

Concealed carry purses are most popular in North Carolina, followed closely by Texas, Ohio, Georgia, and Florida. 
It's a relatively new trend, popping up on Google's radar for the first time in 2011, but it has seen a dramatic increase in the last couple months at the same time that gun sales across the nation reached record highs following the mass shooting in San Bernadino, California, and President Barack Obama's subsequent calls for more restrictions on gun sales.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Wannabes have ruined Fashion Week

it all lost its luster when we discovered that the Birkin waiting list was a hoax

New York Fashion Week was once the hottest ticket in town. Style-obsessed teens would park outside the tents at Bryant Park — and, later, Lincoln Center — in all their finery, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Anna Wintour or Sarah Jessica Parker. Naked PETA protesters would hurl pies and throw paint at editors’ fur coats. A weird club kid could crash a party at the Beatrice Inn or Don Hill’s and no one would bat an eye.
Not anymore, says Hannah Elliott, a luxury reporter for Bloomberg. “I noticed it [the other night] at the opening party for men’s fashion week,” she says. “Seemingly all of the people there were publicists and bloggers. Even as recently as five years ago, fashion parties were filled with downtown kids, artists, models and designers. But the whole thing has changed.”
She’s not alone in finding Fashion Week a bit stilted. As the women’s shows get ready to launch on Thursday, editors, designers and other insiders are saying the whole thing has become passé.
“We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows,” Diane von Furstenberg told WWD in December.
On Friday, Tom Ford canceled press previews of his fall 2016 collection, which had been scheduled for next week in New York. Instead, he’ll show — and, in a major industry shake-up, sell — his items simultaneously in the more seasonally appropriate September.
“Our customers today want a collection that is immediately available,” Ford said in a statement. “Fashion shows and the traditional fashion calendar, as we know them, no longer work in the way that they once did.”
The blow came on the heels of the news that London-based Burberry will combine its men’s and women’s collections in two shows every year, with “seasonless” lines immediately available to purchase on the Web.
In New York, part of the fashion fatigue stems from the fact that the biannual event is bigger — and more overwhelming — than ever. In 2012, the New York Fashion Week calendar boasted some 270 shows; that number has swelled to close to 400.
“Everyone in the industry complains about New York Fashion Week,” echoes Lauren Indvik, editor-at-large of Fashionista. “People just don’t want to go,” she says, “especially when the weather is freezing in February.” Indvik adds that she has significantly cut down on the number of shows she attends.
So has Bloomberg’s Elliott. “I don’t need to cover many of them,” she says, “but I go to support friends and sources who I use in my reporting.”
The lack of a central location — Fashion Week was kicked out of its previous Lincoln Center home in 2015 — adds to the hassle, making the event more alienating to outsiders who used to add color to the scene.
“You definitely see a lot less workers on their lunch breaks or tourists coming by to people-watch,” says Indvik.
On the whole, says Elliott, Fashion Week — once delightful and scrappy and exciting — has become overly corporate and creatively hollow. “It feels more like a game show or a reality show,” says Elliott, “than anything underground, fresh or unique.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chanel vs Hermes

Chanel serves Champagne to their clients; Hermes serves water. I've always thought about that...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The (luxe) Snooze-Fest Continues at Hermes Men's Ready-to-Wear for Fall/Winter 2016

Rinse, change colors, repeat...(yawn)...

Photos by Giovanni GIannoni/WWD

Blog Archive


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




May 18, 2008
Bag Man