It was July 2021, and I was beyond excited for an upcoming trip to the Amalfi Coast and France. The trip was to celebrate both my birthday and 3-year wedding anniversary with my lovely husband- who happens to be my college sweetheart. In the Amalfi Coast, we ate our hearts out, enjoyed breathtaking views, and swam in the Tyrrhenian Sea that felt like bathwater. At the time, a lot of influencers and celebrities were vacationing, so it felt even more mesmerizing to be in the moment rather than experiencing it through their social media pages as I usually do.
Next stop was Paris, and oh how much I love this city. I’m part French (also part Mexican/Irish) and I’d like to think this is why I have such a deep love for everything French. From the cheeses and wine, to the designer handbags and clothes. On this trip, I had a desire to attain the coveted Hermès Kelly bag in Sellier, size 25, true red color, and preferably with gold hardware. As with most things Hermès, I knew a lot of it would be up to luck, so I tried to keep an open mind with my preferences, and also set some basic ground rules for myself. You see, on my last trip to France, although we did a lot of tourist attractions and had our fun, I was quite determined to get a Birkin bag and though I succeeded and wouldn’t have changed a thing… I knew I didn’t want to “try” as hard. Let’s just say it was quite the journey.
So, the night prior to arriving to Paris both my husband and I applied for leather appointments at the FSH store. We did not get them. The next day we applied for leather appointments at any of their 3 locations in Paris, and once again, we did not get an appointment. Later that evening, after a great dinner, and over a glass of wine on our balcony, we chatted about our plans for the following day. I mentioned how I wanted to go to the Hermès store in Lyon, given we had a very lovely Sales Associate there who helped find my dream Birkin two years ago. He loved the spontaneity, and within 12 hours we were on a train to make a daytrip of Lyon.
We arrived in Lyon, and there was about a 45 minute wait outside the store due to staffing constraints at this particular shop. It was quite hot out, but the Hermès staff was lovely and would come out to see if we wanted any bottled water. Once we were near the front door, we could see what everyone was shopping for inside. While entertaining to see what bags people ahead of us were being offered (Herbag from what I could tell), it made me nervous for my pending conversation.
At the door, we were greeted by a kind Sales Associate. My husband and I tried our best to do our greetings in French and then asked, “parlez-vous anglais?” To which, she replied, “Yes, of course.” We asked whether our Sales Associate from 2 years ago was around and were informed that she was on maternity leave. We told this SA to congratulate her for us, and she was happy to relay the message. She then asked me, “how can I help you?” I responded, “I would like a Kelly for my birthday.”
Personally, I was shocked by how blunt I was because the words just fell out of my mouth, but in a way, I’m kind of glad that they did. She responded, “okay” and then proceeded to make small talk with us. We chatted about Los Angeles where we live, and I asked her if she had ever been there. She was happy to say that she had resided there for quite some time and worked as a stylist. We chatted some more about LA, until she sat us down at a nearby table, and pulled out her device and asked, “okay, so you want a Kelly. What kind?” I responded with a variety of colors and leathers, but all in size 25. It was my entire wish list that I rattled off in the hopes of being open-minded.
She responded with a smile, “Okay, so you seem to want any Kelly.” This is when I realized I had blatantly spewed out my wish list and needed to be more specific. Thankfully, after such a great conversation with her earlier, I felt comfortable doing so. I said, “Well, my number one bag choice would be a Kelly Sellier 25 in true red color with gold hardware.” With that, off she went to check the back.
We sat in our chairs, and in all honesty, though I had a good feeling about having met the kindest Sales Associate (who knew it could happen twice at the same location!), I was still apprehensive about getting my bag on the first try (given it took so many attempts last time). Also worth mentioning, this Sales Associate had complimented my Birkin that I had bought from this store, and I had mentioned to her that it was from the SA who was on maternity leave. For what it’s worth, I think it helped that I wore the bag to show I kept it. For those wondering, my prior purchase history at the Lyon store was just the Birkin bag, 2 Twillys and a Calvi Cardholder.
Within 5 minutes, our wonderful SA returned with an orange box. It was small compared to my Birkin 30 box, so I was hopeful but still apprehensive. It could be any bag, right? The SA was so cute and raised her eyebrows twice- asking me to guess what the bag was. Honestly, I was a ball of nerves at this point, so I didn’t really make any guesses. I think she could tell, so she winked and said something to the effect of “I think you’re going to like this bag.” Then, she rolled down the dust bag, and wow… the Kelly bag of my dreams appeared.
The bag that I had waited so patiently for was now finally mine. It was a Kelly 25 in Rouge Vif (a true red color in my opinion, and often compared to Rouge Casaque). The leather looked divine. At first, I did not recognize this leather (it looked a lot like Box leather), so I asked the Sales Associate about it. She told me that it was Tadelakt which is a cross between Box and Swift. In her opinion, this leather is more structured than Box and less scratchable than Swift. To me, it seemed like a timeless leather that I would love forever.
We filmed a quick video, and the SA agreed that I could share her name when I published my video on YouTube, which I appreciated. Prior to heading out, she told me how important it was to her to make her clients happy, and she was glad to do the same for me. I honestly felt so grateful to now have her as a Sales Associate because she truly made my birthday incredibly special.
Back at our hotel in Paris, my husband could tell I was in shock. I had no words to express how amazing it was to have the bag of my dreams on such a special trip and with such ease. It was genuinely shocking. We spent the next 3 days doing fun French things like dining on a Bateaux boat cruise on the Seine River, having a picnic in front of the Eiffel tower, and more. On each outing, I wore my brand new Kelly 25 with me, and it felt like it had been mine forever.
By the second to last day, I mentioned to my husband that I would love to try my luck at getting one more bag in France. You see, I had saved up for 2 Hermès bags that year – one from my local boutique (that did not manifest), and one from my trip to France, so why not try? We were already there, and besides, I had forgotten to get a couple of gifts for my family in the excitement of purchasing my Kelly in Lyon. So, my husband got an appointment at the FSH store (by asking the host), and we proceeded to ask for a Mini Kelly. Funny enough, we overheard multiple people trying to get a Mini Kelly near us and we were all told it was not in-stock. My opinion is that the Mini Kelly may be even harder to get than the size 25 Kelly or Birkin, and likely would require some type of purchase history at that store (we had none).
So, at this point, I was perfectly content taking off from France without a second bag. We were still going to buy some gifts at the FSH store, but ended up getting paired with an intern Sales Associate. Although he was very kind, I love the experience of working with someone with deep knowledge about what I’m buying. The store was also quite hectic, so I asked my husband if we could drop by the Sevres store to shop there instead. I read an article about how it was newly renovated and re-opened in March of 2021. I had always loved the design of this store, so I really wanted to check it out. Once we arrived, we did a loop around the store to check out how beautiful the renovation was. I highly recommend visiting, and it also has the cutest café.
Once we were ready to shop, I noticed most of the Sales Associates were busy. I went over to two who were conversing among themselves- greeting them in French and asked for help. One of the Sales Associate said “of course,” and showed me a variety of Calvi Cardholders. He was so knowledgeable about the different leathers and even showed us which had the best smell (I was geeking out in the best way possible). The SA brought us sparkling water as I decided on two Calvi Cardholders as gifts for my family members. Of course, having the bladder of a small bird, I asked to use their restroom before checking out the scarves upstairs. Prior to this, during our small chat over the cardholders, the SA had asked where we were from, and we mentioned LA. In response, he said that we were very kind and that he always had a great time chatting with people from LA as they all seemed so nice. Fast forward, I return from the bathroom, and hear the Sales Associate tell my husband, “I’ll see what I can do.”
At this point, I’m confused, but on the way up to the scarves my husband tells me, “I know you wanted a second bag, so on a whim I asked if we could get a leather appointment.” I was so touched and surprised by his gesture. It was the cutest, but I also tempered my expectations, given I know Sevres and George V stores work off of the leather appointment system. And besides, at this point, I genuinely was okay not getting a second bag. This SA had already made our shopping experience so amazing with his extensive knowledge that he shared on his own accord (we literally didn’t have to ask any questions), so I was elated.
At the scarves, the Sales Associate told me all about each piece of artwork and elements of the artist’s background that were on the scarves we were viewing. I was so grateful because I knew my mom would love her scarf even more knowing the craftsmanship behind it. After I picked out a beautiful scarf, the SA asked me: if he was able to get an appointment, “what bag would you be interested in?” I mentioned a “Mini Kelly, Kelly 25, or Birkin 25.” Given how much use I was already getting out of my Kelly 25, I knew the smaller sizes worked better for me. He mentioned that there were no Mini Kellys and that given it was so late in the day, stock was generally low. It was almost half an hour before closing.
He asked if I would be interested in a Shadow Birkin, a Constance, or other bags. I mentioned possibly a Constance, but would really prefer a Kelly 25, preferably in neutral colors. He asked if I would keep an open mind, and I said that I would. I also made a point to say that if there were no bags that he felt fit me right, that it was perfectly okay, that I would still be super pleased with my experience at the store as he already made me so happy. Well, 5 minutes later he came back with intricately detailed silver flutes of champagne and escorted us to a private room. I was absolutely freaking out internally. Could this be it? No way was I about to possibly get a second quota bag in 3 days at a store I had absolutely no prior purchase history in.
He asked me to reach inside the dust bag, and what I revealed took my breath away. It was a Kelly 25 in Etain, Retourne, Palladium Hardware and in Swift Leather. I was in shock. It was the bag I never knew I needed… and it also happened to be a Special Order bag (marked by the horseshoe sign on the front of the bag).
I could easily see myself wearing this bag casually and getting so much use out of it. Although it is a Kelly bag, it seemed so understated, and I loved how it contrasted so well with my Kelly in Rouge Vif. I was so happy, and will forever be grateful to this Sales Associate for making this such a wonderful shopping experience. I honestly didn’t know how to thank him enough. He responded by saying that a lot of people are surprisingly not nice when they come to the store, especially when asking for these bags. He really loved how kind we were. He also mentioned that he was not sure why a Special Order bag was available, that perhaps a client had ordered and did not want it anymore, but he was happy that his manager allowed him to offer it to me.
I hope you found my Hermès shopping experience entertaining, or even helpful, if you’re looking to score a bag as well. If you’ve gotten this far, please connect with me on Instagram (@JulietPicard). I plan on doing leather reviews, Kelly/Birkin comparisons, and more on my YouTube channel. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!