Hermès Night to Remember: Inside the Epic Madison Flagship Opening Party and Shopping Experience

It’s been nine days since that memorable Hermès night. It’s taken me this long to have my feelings settle and find the words to properly express the effect and grandeur of the Hermès Madison 706 opening party on September 29th.

The new Hermès flagship… just hours before the party at 706 Madison Ave.

Garden rooftop at the new flagship.

Front windows at the new flagship opening night.

Many have already written exceptional pieces about the specific events, including the musical and the tremendous detail that went into executing this formidable display. In fact, one of my favorites is by the New York Times.

On PurseBop’s social media we immediately took you into the actual evening. Our video and photos conveyed the extravaganza and so many of its components, subsequently described elsewhere.

PurseBop Madison Video Covergae

Click to access @pursebop

The musical continues at the block party.

But what I want to do now is share with you what the Hermès opening event meant to this Hermès devotee. Beyond the sights and sounds, what emotions did the Hermès opening night, and the days that followed, evoke?

Let me take you inside this festival of decadence. Filtered through my lens, I hope to share vicariously what it really felt like to be there in the moment.

This was my first Hermès store opening and although we have written and covered many others over the years, I didn’t know what to expect other than that it would be exceptional. The save-the-date gave few hints beyond mention of a musical.

Quick shot of my bag of the night as we head out to the party, Baccarat Hotel.

Special order Noir chèvre Kelly mini 20cm with Rose Mexico swift interior and gold hardware.

Hmmm. Musical theater? Broadway? Would we be seated in a theater in rows among strangers as we watched a brightly lit stage? As it turns out, this was nothing of the sort.

Instead, we were treated to a moving musical feast and festival entitled “Love Around the Block” spanning all four floors of the new boutique.

“Love Around the Block” musical experienced from the 4th floor.

But we didn’t know any of this until we entered the boutique for our 7pm slot. There were three showings to accommodate and manage all 1,500 guests. After a few minutes of socializing, an Hermès executive whispered in my ear that I should head to the fourth floor to experience the musical from there. So grateful for the advice, Mr. PurseBop and I took the elevator straight up.

@carlscrush with my mini.

The elevator doors opened on the fourth floor… OMG, we were in bag heaven- literally. Never have we (Hermès aficionados) experienced such an expansive bright space lined with cases filled with the most exclusive collection of coveted Hermès bags. So this is where all the Birkins and Kellys have been hiding, lol.

The Hermès handbag displays on the 4th floor of the Madison flagship.

The view looking down from the 4th floor.

There was just too much to see. We’ve all heard the expression “like a kid in a candy store” — well, this was no different, except it was me all grown-up in an Hermes store. I moved about the floor trying to capture as much as I could when all of a sudden we were stopped in our tracks by the sound and movement of actors moving about us. It was completely mesmerizing. Imagine being in that space along with music and dance, storytelling enveloping you, while sipping fine champagne and Sancerre wine.

The actors moved throughout the space, so close to guests that you made eye contact and could see the colorful lines of their makeup.

Not just a series of performances, the show had a theme. It was about a former couple, Max and Joanna. Max manages a grand store opening on Madison Avenue and Joanna, his ex, is the journalist covering the event. In true romantic and theatrical fashion, sparks fly between the pair, a once love rekindled. It was colorful, engaging, upbeat, and heartwarming.

“Love Around the Block” musical from the 4th floor.

Don’t miss the Gold Mini Kelly.

We could not neglect the assortment of bite-sized carefully decorated hors d’oeuvre catering trays at every turn. The intoxication was real, whether from the alcohol or the high of the momentum of the night. My eyes continually scanned the room filled with beautiful and diverse people, and, of course, the exceptional display of handbags carried by them.

Several celebrities were in attendance including Martha Stewart, EJ Johnson, Grace Coddington, Nina Garcia, Marjorie Harvey and Nicky Hilton.

Martha Stewart and Michael Carl.

Strategically, guests were ushered out of the boutique to the closed block party between the new 706 maison and the old 691 address. The musical continued into the streets, where brightly colored food trucks and covered cafés awaited. Spirits shifted from the grapevine to intriguing mixed cocktails with pomegranate, cinnamon, and mint combined with spirits like bourbons and tequilas.

I remember standing somewhere on the street and looking down at the painted pavement below, then looking up and seeing the helter-skelter of beautiful people moving about, listening to the sounds of laughter and good cheer and music. It was sensory overload in the best possible way. Total merriment.

I had to take this moment to soak it all in. It took me back to my nine-year-old self visiting Disneyland for the first time, wanting to encapsulate every bit of my surroundings somewhere in my heart and mind to be able to draw upon forever.

The Hermès-themed food trucks served up classic NYC favorites. No quiche or escargot for this crowd. Instead, the guests feasted on deli fare from Katz’s, cheesecake from Junior’s, and small-sized burgers, hot dogs, tacos, falafels, pretzels, dumplings, and truffle fries… And this was before the sit down dinner.

Jenna Lyons

At the corner of 62nd and Madison, (where the men’s boutique used to be) Hermès set up a big musical stage. Guests gathered to delight in the finale. Under other circumstances it could have been a concert at Giants Stadium, with fans swaying and singing along to the music.

The outdoor stage set up for the finale.

My tale would not be complete if we didn’t venture into the old store (691 Madison) and follow the Hungry March Band carving loudly through the boutique. The old store had been hollowed out and converted into a trendy Hermès speakeasy with retro lighting. The vibe was more of a swanky nightclub than disco lounge. A boozy blue bar lined the wall end to end with easy access to your choice of liquor.

The Hungry March Band made its way through the crowds to the old boutique at 691 Madison converted into a speakeasy bar. Guests were encouraged to follow after the finale at the stage.

The bar scene at 691 Madison.

EJ Johnson at the speakeasy.

The top two floors of the old store were carefully managed with scheduled service for a sit down dinner. Guests received a designated seating time for their dining experience. It was as trendy as any NYC restaurant, aptly titled ‘Max & Joanna’s Diner’.

The restaurant bar.

People schmoozed and partied till the wee hours of the morning. For those not too hungover to remember, it would be fondly recalled as a grand evening.

The VIP Appointment

For all of the fanfare, it was difficult to explore the new boutique in full during the gala. After all, it is 45,000 square feet spread over seven floors of which nearly 25,000 is dedicated to the retail store. Four levels are for retail, two are basement floors for inventory and management and a fifth floor is dedicated to after-service. This boutique has been in the making for eight and a half years and is constructed with the finest of materials including a breathtaking limestone staircase.

Time stamp 4:52 pm

The store opened its doors first to VIP clients on Friday, September 30th and October 1st with private one hour shopping appointments only.

These appointments were arranged in advance by sales associates for their chosen clients to provide them the opportunity to peruse the boutique and shop the limited edition pieces created for the opening.

For some even luckier clients, it meant the chance to be offered exclusive leather bags brought in for the opening… often the rarest of them all. These special leather treasures were allotted in advance so the sales associates knew exactly what was being offered to whom. Bag approvals were not being spontaneously granted. This was a carefully planned and executed process.

Back in August during my New York City visit, my sales associate casually mentioned that around opening night she would let me know about a private appointment. She explained that these appointments would not be available to all opening night attendees but rather only to a select handful.

As a practical matter, over the course of two days, no sales associate could possibly see more than 15 to 20 of their esteemed clients. I now was keenly aware of just how special an opportunity this was.

We discussed a fresh wish list of rare items that I might be looking to add to my collection. It was a dreamy proposition to even just talk about these special bags.

A couple of days before our flight to New York, my Hermès fairy informed me that my appointment was scheduled for 5 PM on Friday the 30th. This was music to my ears because it meant that Mr. PurseBop would join me for this special shopping adventure. I really saw this as an opportunity for him to shop and revel in the Hermès joy (something mostly experienced by me).

In addition, I was determined to make this special for him, as he was taking a few days off work to join me in New York for this monumental experience. It also meant, as pointed out by my SA, that we would have more time to explore the boutique as we would be her last appointment of the day.

I think I can speak on behalf of all opening attendees… We were injected with a rekindled or heightened love for Hermès. The magic transcended the event, leaving me with even greater appreciation of the opportunity to be a part of something so historic and magical.

So… if you think I was excited about my appointment before I came to New York, you need to multiply that 100 fold for Friday morning. The day couldn’t pass fast enough.

After an early morning business appointment (with perhaps a bit of hangover from merriment), I enjoyed a restful afternoon with my colleague and Mr. PurseBop. Feet sore from the night before, I altered my wardrobe to a more casual look suitable for my new Hermès “Funk Boots”.

Hermès Birkin Sellier 25 in Nata Epsom and the new matching ‘Funk boot’ were my accessories for my private appointment, Baccarat Hotel.

Mr. PurseBop wore his custom Hermès jacket lined with silk scarves  to commemorate the occasion.
Read: Mr. PurseBop Measures Up

Shortly before 5pm, we arrived at 706 Madison. Finding a small crowd and a line of about ten people, I found my way to the gentleman tending the door and inquired about my appointment. He requested us to wait outside on the side of the building until my sales associate was ready. It was probably about five or ten minutes.

The Uber ride to the boutique. Ironically my Nata Birkin was with me on both of my last trips to NYC.

Honestly, I didn’t mind the wait at all. It gave me a chance to peoplewatch- to see and observe the other lucky shoppers granted appointments. While the level of anticipation and/or anxiety varied, one thing was consistent- everyone carried a marvelous Birkin or Kelly, mostly 25cm size, but some 30s as well.

As for the boutique itself, given the prior evening’s festivities, it had been difficult to appreciate the true beauty and layout. This would be our time, with no rush at all.

My sales associate warmly greeted us with tight hugs and pointed out all of the beautiful details in the store: the original bank clock above the register and the staircase, just to name two.

The original clock from the bank that was taken over for the new build.

First floor saddles on display.

It was that Disneyland feeling again. How before your first trip, you mapped out a plan to visit every park to make sure that you wouldn’t miss any attraction. That’s how I wanted to tackle the new store. I didn’t want to miss anything.

We made it to the men’s floor and focused on helping Mr. PB shop. He picked out some beautiful ready-to-wear: cashmere sweaters and a coat. We then moved to the shoe salon where, I am delighted to report, we happily convinced him to buy a pair of black leather and fur Chypre sandals. Of course I bought a pair or two as well. The new tall cowboy boots were a center of attraction and warranted due attention. Then there was the special edition, limited H08 watch created to commemorate the opening with the illuminating yellow numbers 706 on the dial.

Mr PurseBop tries the limited edition H08 created to commemorate the opening.

Mens ready to wear.

It was so difficult to stay focused in any one area as my eyes would wander to the next beautifully displayed segment of merchandise. Not to mention there was such curiosity to see what others were trying on and contemplating. And what I am finding most difficult to do right now is narrow down my photos to only a few as there are hundreds on my camera roll.

Himalayan horse saddle.

Himalayan Kelly 32 on display on the Women’s RTW floor.

Solid gold and brown diamond 15cm Kelly bag.

But of course, there was more. A very special something selected just for me. And I won’t make you wait this time.

After our shopping was complete and the clock neared 7pm, my sales associate uttered these magic words “why don’t you all head up to the fourth floor and make yourself comfortable with some champagne 🥂 while I take care of the rest… I’ll meet you there with something special —for Monika”, she said, as she was facing and looking at Mr. PurseBop. By this time the two of them had seriously bonded. It was really his day… till it was mine.

In full confession, although I did not know exactly what I was being offered, I had an inkling from my texts with my SA that it was something very special. Maybe not something I had specifically requested. Nevertheless, I anticipated it to be a piece that would mark this occasion and preserve this special memory. It certainly was an exciting moment, but truthfully everything that had transpired thus far was enough. Our experience over the last 24 hours was enough Hermès magic to satiate the soul.

The new special rooms on the 4th floor for “bag unveiling” were all occupied which left us with only two options. We could wait, without any idea of how long it would be. Alternatively, we could visit another floor in search of an empty room.

Instead, however, we simply headed to the back of the fourth floor and nestled ourselves away in the corner where the special edition Gene Kelly bag and diamond mini Kelly were on display. But it didn’t matter. My eyes were on that orange box. I saw and heard no distractions. I don’t think I even knew where Mr. PurseBop was until I later watched the videos taken by my colleague.

That sealed special box.

Facing me was a sealed box with a “cities” label taped to the top, designating the bag as an exotic. That was curious. Plus, based on the box size, it was not a classic Birkin or Kelly. Despite my encyclopedia-like knowledge of Hermès boxes, I did not know what awaited inside this one.

And then, everything went silent. Voices faded like the “womp womp” of Charlie Brown’s teacher. My sales associate reached into the dust bag and revealed the straps. OMG, it’s Ombre lizard. But I still did not know what was attached. And then, a few milliseconds later… Voila! Behold a Constance 18 in ombré lizard with gold hardware!!!!

Constance 18 in Ombrè Lizard with gold hardware.

We all examined and admired the craftsmanship of this particular piece and its magnificence. It was absolutely perfect. What an Hermès souvenir to treasure in my collection. I was overcome with gratitude, excitement and joy all at once. I especially loved how my sales associate really took the time to explain to Mr. PurseBop the rarity of this piece and skin and why she selected this for me. I watched in admiration of her patience knowing full well how long this day and week had been for her. I soaked it all in, watching Mr PurseBop’s face closely as he attentively learned more about quota versus non quota bag. She revisited her recent stint with him where they together pulled off an epic surprise for our anniversary this last July. She used that as an example to further illustrate quota versus a non quota bag.

Remember the tri – colored Kelly 25?
Read: Epic Hermès Anniversary Gift: When Your Hubby Conspires With Your Sales Associate

Actually such a special spot in the store to unbox my Constance with the exclusive pieces in the background.

Mr PurseBop and my sales associate left together to take care of official business and I exited towards the garden to take a photo to mark this moment with time stamp.

Time stamp 7:07 pm Sept 30th, 2022.

Just before leaving hubby joined me in the garden and we took a few more photos hand in hand to add to our album. We were both flooded with memories from the mothership in Paris – the rooftop garden visit back in December 2021.
Read: My Hermès Paris Secrets Revealed

The evening ended with a celebration at Carbone… a trip to remember. These memories will be etched in my heart as it’s difficult to do justice to the experience in words.

Carbone, NYC.

Our heartiest congratulations to the Hermès NYC executive team and flagship staff for this epic extravaganza event. Heartfelt thank you…

Stay tuned for Part II soon.

Read Related Articles:

Hermès Introduces Five New Bags for Spring/Summer 2023
The Ultimate Hermès Guide: 7 Steps To Reach Your Goals
Hermès Instagram Has Us All Hooked
Update: Hermès Moves Closer to a Global Quota System

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Published: October 8th, 2022
Updated: October 30th, 2022

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2 Responses to “Hermès Night to Remember: Inside the Epic Madison Flagship Opening Party and Shopping Experience”

  • What a wonderful, wonderful experience you just lived 👏🏻👏🏻
    Wonderful bag in ombré lézard….
    I bought an expensive pair of mules about fifteen years ago from a designer in Saks Fifth Avenue in Orlando because I liked them but I didn’t realize until I started following you that it was lézard ombré and I sooo wish I had kept them as a souvenir instead of throwing them away during I guess one of my moves… I feel so bad because I never found anything like it anymore
    Enjoy this wonderful bag and your relationship with your hubby is so reminding of mine with Fabien ♥️💙happy Sunday sweetheart

  • What a wonderful, wonderful experience you just lived 👏🏻👏🏻
    Wonderful bag in ombré lézard….
    I bought an expensive pair of mules about fifteen years ago from a designer in Saks Fifth Avenue in Orlando because I liked them but I didn’t realize until I started following you that it was lézard ombré and I sooo wish I had kept them as a souvenir instead of throwing them away during I guess one of my moves… I feel so bad because I never found anything like it anymore
    Enjoy this wonderful bag and your relationship with your hubby is so reminding of mine with Fabien ♥️💙happy Sunday sweetheart