I have a bucket list and even a bag bucket list. Shopping at Hermès Faubourg Saint- Honoré has been on mine since the arrival of my first Birkin. That desire only intensified as my passion for the brand and my collection grew. It’s been two years to the date since that love affair began. Many of you may remember the legend of SuperBagXLVIII. The snow clad pictures of the box’s “touchdown”, the rice paper sheets battling the bitter wind, and then the unveiling of my first perfect orange Birkin. Then one year later on Super Bowl I revealed my first Kelly.
The thrill of the experience is not much different now, even several bags later. I hope the magic never stops… I hope my heart still races with anticipation as the first glimpses of saturated color appear between the openings of the herringbone cover. I hope the moments created with each treasure are as crystal clear and documented here in my handbag journal.
Super Bowl 50 will be a special page in my book as it will mark the reveal of my first purchase from the Hermes mothership Faubourg Saint- Honoré in Paris.
Let me begin my story…
My girlfriends and I arrived to Paris free-spirited, with one exception, and it was the H exception. Fortunately all four of us are Hermes lovers so there was no point of contention here. We had chalked out a rough fun plan for the days ahead that included plenty of shopping, mild sight seeing (no one was a Paris newbie), strolling, yummy eating, lavish wine drinking and above all lots of laughing.
We had decided to attempt the Hermes leather line each day till we scored, but somehow had envisioned on the plane ride over that this might happen on Day 1 of arrival and be checked off our to-do list right off the bat. We each had heard stories of big orange boxes in abundance from previous recent traveled Hermes loving friends and aficionados. I was somewhat skeptical of this vision as I had returned from the South of France just four months prior and experienced total bag drought (although the H Gods did shine bright on me there too).
We managed our first visit to headquarters on day 1 of arrival just before lunch with that bounce in our step and smiling cheer on our faces. We each decided to do our own thing and try our individual luck and strategy.
The doors were manned with two uniformed security guards that nodded their heads upon our entry and I am sure they secretly smirked as I was smiling ear to ear like a total nerd but I couldn’t help it, I was truly excited. The store was impressive albeit smaller than it existed in my mind. The energy was somewhat busy but not overwhelming. One of our mates had done this before so we just followed her to the leather department towards the back of the store near the second side entrance. The lineup did not appear intimidating to me. I wanted to take a few minutes to get a feel of the store, I wanted get the lay of the land, so to speak.
I took a quick tour and found myself in line within a matter of minutes. I had the name of my dear friend’s sales associate so I wanted to find out if he was there, but was uncertain as to how to go about it exactly. Do I leave my spot and ask the beautiful woman at the top of the line who seemed to be facilitating the acquaintance of customer to sales person or just wait in line and ask for him when my turn. I hesitated but then decided to go up and ask the correct protocol. She was lovely and confirmed he was in fact there today and she would inform him that I was waiting for him but I was politely requested to resume my position in the line. This was fabulous. I was very optimistic about the whole scene and feeling very much at home here at the mothership. I waited in line about 20 minutes with no sign of the gentleman I requested. I used this time to just soak it all in. I observed the process very carefully, the way the people interacted, the sales associates’ expressions, the body language, the entire dance. I became aware of the space around me: took note of the inventory and quizzed myself on the styles, sizes and colors. Honestly the time flew by. Just as I reached the front of the line, he (at least I thought it was him) entered the bright lit space with what seemed like a halo and began to utter my name to the woman managing the scene. I must have lit up like a Christmas tree and I honestly don’t remember what I said but I made it very clear he was looking for me…
He was warm and seemed pleased to make my acquaintance. He asked me to step aside to the space between the horse saddles and the side door. I was so excited that I likely spoke a million miles an hour. We chatted for quite a while from what I can remember. I told him I was here on a girls trip to Paris and even pointed out my girlfriends and had them wave to identify themselves.
Now onto the important details… the questions… what exactly was I looking for? I had a list prepared on the Sofitel stationary of my top color, leather and size picks. Top of the list had names like blue electric, rose shocking, ultra violet… chevre, togo, clemence and possibly even epsom. Sizes were listed in accordance to color. Another wards blue electric was fine in virtually any size where as reds were in smaller sizes only. It was handwritten short notes I had prepared in case I drew a blank. He took my list and very sweetly tried to make sense of my scribblings. He looked up and asked me, “what colors do you already have in your collection?” I quickly rattled off my list of bags in order of acquiring them. I am sure he very quickly recognized my enthusiasm for the brand, LOL. He asked how long I would be in town and asked me if there were other things I wanted to purchase too? I turned the sheet he held in his hand over to the other side and it listed out several non – Birkin/Kelly items. He broke into a soft smile and proceeded to ask if I had shopped here before. I explained this was my trip to FSH but that I had shopped virtually all the boutiques on the cote d’ azur last September.
His face became a little serious as he began to explain that he would certainly search but that no shipments had arrived that day so far. He also told me that although there had been abundant shipments earlier in the week, traffic also had been very heavy with wait times sometimes approaching two hours. In other words, I was prepared to hear “non.” He told me he would return shortly. As he started to walk away he turned and asked if exotics were an option. I explained that most likely not unless it was something very special and smaller in size (even PurseBop has financial constraints).
I waited for quite a while. I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or bad. My imagination ran wild: was he sorting through boxes of Birkins in search of my blue electric or blue paon? Or he couldn’t find anything and was delaying my inevitable empty-handed disappointment.
He returned with only my same sheet in his hand at a brisk pace. My heart sank a bit but I remained cheerful and optimistic. “So, …unfortunately there is nothing that I can offer you today. As I explained we have not received any shipments today but why don’t you try back after about 3pm today. Will you be able to stop by? Where are you staying?”
I was eager to share that I was merely down the street at the Sofitel Hotel and yes of course I would! He suggested a few fabulous nearby places and as he was about to dismiss me, many questions came rushing to my mind. I quickly began, “when I return, how do I find you? Will I need to wait in line again? Will you be here everyday?” His responses sent my tummy in knots, he was going to be away on holiday the next two days. “Can you recommend me to an associate of yours in your absence?” “Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to do that. I am afraid you’ll just need to come in and wait in the queue. I assure you everyone will take good care of you. I really wish I had something to offer you right now, but let’s try this afternoon.” Not wanting to be a total pain in the a$$ I made my internal piece and said I’d be back in a couple of hours.
Jet lag was setting in hard after an all night flight but we were all determined to make the most of our day. We set off to Bread and Roses for lunch, conveniently located right around the corner and the perfect lunch place. The four of us each had so much Hermes news to exchange or as I call it a Hermes PPA (Hermes post party analysis). Everyone’s experience and opinion about her first encounter with the sales associates was very different. Our group was devoid of any big orange box so I guess each of us was open to infer her own reason why. I just know I was confident that my sales associate was completely sincere and felt content knowing that I was in good hands. Having said that I knew after today’s attempts I was on my own with random sales associates till the day before my departure, Saturday, when he would return to the store.
After the most scrumptious delightfully stacked vegetarian club sandwich I had ever eaten (they created this for me as there were not any veggie options on the menu) and a glass (or two) of vino I made my way to the hotel to freshen up and return to the mothership. This time around the line was sparse.. I walked to the front and asked the lovely lady if she could inform my sales associate that I was back for my “unofficial” 3pm time. She proceeded to call him on her special phone but turned her head so I really couldn’t even lip read… they were all so beautiful and soft spoken anyway. She put the phone down and began “I’m sorry but he is in with an appointment and wanted me to let you know that he will be busy for at least another hour. You are welcome to wait but I suggest since the line is very short you may try speaking to another associate.” I confess I wasn’t very happy and had no idea what to do except follow through with her suggestion. I stepped aside and at the rear of the line. I kept scanning the store in the hopes that I might see him somewhere and I could get his attention. I was hardly in line a few minutes when my turn came. This time a beautiful petite French woman with meticulous make up and hair approached. She asked what assistance I needed. I explained exactly my situation, that I had met my SA in the morning and he suggested coming back to see if any shipments might have arrived. She immediately confirmed that none had come in for the day but was still willing to check. She wasn’t quite as interested, my guess is because she knew there wasn’t anything that she could offer me. I did also mention my interest in clutches, specifically, the Medor, Kelly Cut or even a Pouchette. Oh and a Constance! She explained those were harder to come by than Birkins but would check. She returned very quickly holding a white sheet with a relatively small orange box in her hand that she read from, “would you be interested in a rouge h Egee clutch? I honestly did not know what she was referring to off the top of my head. “Would you like to see it?” I said yes, if not too much trouble. Just as she began to turn the paper over I could see the color and knew instantly this was not for me. I immediately informed her this color was not to my liking. She suggested returning the following day to try my luck. I was somewhat dejected, I just wanted to see my own SA, it’s funny how I already felt connected to him and only him in this big sea of orange unknowingness…
I stepped away and stood contemplating my next course of action. Just as I pulled out my phone to text the girls and find out where they were, I saw him, whisking by like bullet speed. I lightly called out his name, he turned and began to apologize that he was tied up all the whilst moving his head side to side in a ‘no’ motion. “I just checked, there were no deliveries made this afternoon…” I knew he was in a rush and I was an interruption so I quickly asked “what do you advise I do as you won’t be here now?” He replied, I suggest you try again whenever you can… but come see me on Saturday morning if you don’t have success before. I softly smiled and we excused ourselves like oceans parting…
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of PurseBop’s Super Bowl 50 reveal.
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Updated: May 18th, 2017