This reader’s personal narrative gives insight into the elusive world of acquiring a coveted bag at Hermès in Paris. While she may have been successful, it’s important to emphasize that the pursuit of a Hermès bag remains a highly individualized and unpredictable endeavor, where factors such as timing, relationships with boutique staff, and sheer luck play substantial roles. What worked for her may not necessarily work for everyone, as each client’s journey towards securing an Hermès bag is a unique and often unpredictable experience.
In this way, the advice she offers is based on her personal experience. It should not be taken as rules and/or regulations or the advice of PurseBop.
by Sudha Maheshwari
Before I dive into my enchanting story, let me introduce myself:
I’m a self-proclaimed luxury aficionado, but not in the sense that I’ll waltz into a fancy boutique and buy everything in sight. No, I’m more of a meticulous planner. You see, I always set goals for my luxury purchases. I’ve found that most of my extravagant buys are premeditated. Of course, I won’t deny the occasional impulse purchase, but I’ve learned that the thrill of pursuing something I’ve set my sights on can be incredibly rewarding, almost as much as the item itself!
Now, back to the story you’re here for…
A little over a decade ago, on my 30th birthday, I gifted myself the mother of all handbags – The Hermès Birkin (Read: Is That First Birkin Ever Enough?)! It felt like a stroke of serendipity, the way that iconic HGB- my beloved Birkin landed in my lap just as I completed my third decade orbiting the sun. It was almost as if the luxury gods had conspired to grant me that bag at precisely the right moment.
Fast forward to my 40th birthday, I couldn’t help but hope for lightning to strike twice. I imagined the luxury gods smiling upon me once more, gifting me another coveted HGB through some magical twist of fate – this time a gorgeous Kelly in a size 25 or 28.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My 40th birthday came and went without the addition of another orange box to my collection. Then came the 41st, and once again, my hopes soared with dreams of finally obtaining that elusive HGB (Read: Waiting for That Hermès Kelly, This Happened). But, as fate would have it, The Kelly still eluded me. There was indeed an addition of an orange box to my collection though – an elegant Evelyn PM in a stunning Taurillon. However, as they say, the heart wants what it wants!
This year, a mere week before I was set to celebrate my 42nd year on this planet, fate threw me a curveball in the form of a phone call from a friend. She was about to embark on a journey to Paris to drop her niece off at university. As soon as she mentioned her travel plans, I jumped into action and launched into a detailed briefing about the mothership of luxury, also known as the Hermès Faubourg Saint-Honoré (FSH) boutique. I practically commanded her to secure a Kelly bag for me!
But then, like a seasoned advisor and friend, she proposed a far more sensible idea (ahem)– why not just join her in Paris for a shopping extravaganza?!? Best-case scenario, I’d snag that coveted bag for myself; worst-case, I’d have an unforgettable vacation in the City of Light with my BFF! It was a win-win proposition. Needless to say I wasted no time in booking my tickets!
Now, when it comes to acquiring an HGB, there are so many variables and intricacies involved, that it’s like navigating a labyrinth. With an overwhelming amount of information and an endless list of dos and don’ts flooding the internet, knowing what to do can be bewildering. But let me break it down for you, step by step, based on my own adventure in pursuit of that elusive luxury prize!
What they say about where you book your store appointment from:
Only book when on French soil! -MYTH!
Being the adventurous spirits we were, my friend, her niece, and I decided to defy this convention. Two days before we embarked on our journey to Paris, we took our chances and applied for an appointment while still in India. We were careful to select any available location. Lo and behold, like clockwork, the next morning, we each received beautifully crafted rejection emails. Not ones to be discouraged, the next day (again from Indian soil) we tried again, to only receive the rejection emails yet again. Just for kicks, as we sat in the airplane ready to take off for Paris, we decided to try one more time, you know, just in case third time really is lucky! We filled the forms, hit submit, switched off our phones and were soon mid air.
On touch down in Paris Charles De Gaule, we were greeted by a magnificent rainbow in all its glory. It felt like a warm welcome, and then, almost like a magical gift, I turned on my phone and was shocked to see that I had received an appointment confirmation email from Hermès in my inbox! That too for none other than the famed Faubourg Saint-Honoré (FSH) store! This got me thinking. Maybe the time zone from which I applied didn’t really matter all that much. After all, I had applied for the appointment while firmly planted on Indian soil, and it worked out just fine. Third time, really was the charm!!!
What they say about the appointment time:
Hermès can change your appointment time even at the very last minute – FACT!
My appointment was initially set for noon. Armed with a nugget of wisdom and my own cautious instinct, I figured that if Hermès decided to tinker with my time slot, they’d probably move it earlier, given that it was a weekday morning and the store only opens around 11 am. So, I diligently checked my email at the time of store opening, and there it was – my appointment had been advanced by 15 minutes.
Recognizing that it might be wise to stay close by in case of further changes, I left early (and I can’t thank my intuition enough for that). Because every time I refreshed the page while in the cab on the way to the boutique, the time seemed to creep backwards by 10-minute increments. I kid you not – every time I refreshed the screen, the time kept advancing. It was like a high-stakes race against the clock! We (my trusted comrades and I ) arrived at the store at 11:09 am, just in time for my now-preponed appointment at 11:10 am
Thank goodness I had read about the last minute time change here on Pursebop (Read: The Hermès Appointment System in Paris and How It Played Out) in advance. I couldn’t imagine securing that precious appointment only to miss it because I didn’t arrive on time.
To all you fellow HGB seekers out there, take heed – this tip could be a game-changer!
What they say about how you dress:
Dress to show your knowledge and appreciation of Hermes- FACT
Do you recall that iconic scene from Legally Blonde when Elle Woods meticulously prepares for her Harvard appointment, carefully crafting the image she wants to embody?
Dressing for an Hermès appointment is a similar art form, requiring careful consideration.
From the moment you step in, you’re under the scanner. What you understand about the brand and your grasp of luxury, in general, is evaluated based on what you choose to wear and how you carry yourself.
For my appointment, I understood that I couldn’t be decked out in a logo-covered ensemble from head to toe. Instead, I needed to exude an air of understated luxury. So, I opted for a formal yet chic top, well-tailored jeans, and slung my Evelyn bag with the ‘H’ facing in, just as Hermès originally intended. I completed the look with my mother of pearl V&A earrings, and I felt perfectly poised to make my entrance.
Because, you see, in the world of Hermès, your outfit is not just an outfit; it’s a statement, a reflection of your appreciation for timeless elegance and the art of true luxury.
What they say about connecting with your SA:
Building a connection and rapport is everything – FACT
Trust me, building a good rapport with your SA (in a very short time) is absolutely crucial. In my case, luck was on my side, and I was paired up with the sweetest SA. What’s more, she had a special connection with India, having visited, lived there, and developed a fondness for the country. It felt like she could read my wish list telepathically before I even uttered a word.
But, as the friendly banter stretched to a chirpy 20 minutes, I finally revealed my true purpose – I was in the shop with my heart set on a Kelly 25 or 28 in Epsom leather. I even listed my colour preferences, and I did it all proudly in French (thanks to a little in-flight cramming). And then, she looked at me with a directness only the French can master and asked if anything other than a Kelly would bring me joy. I hesitated for a moment and then firmly replied, ‘no.’ Looking back, I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had given her more options, she might have started unveiling the fast-moving Evelyns and Herbags, which weren’t quite what I had in mind.
Five minutes later, she returned with a big orange box and ordered us to follow her to a quieter section of the store. I followed her as though she carried my heart with her.
I watched with bated breath as she opened the box and took out a stunning Epsom leather Kelly 28… in … wait for it … Two shades of green!
Okay, if I can be completely honest- when my SA dropped the limited edition two-colour bombshell on me, my initial reaction was pure, unadulterated shock. I mean, I was rendered temporarily speechless! But as I stood there in the Hermès boutique, with oohs and aahs from surrounding customers, and my friends offering their enthusiastic support (which I didn’t need much of, to be honest), something inside me just clicked. And I decided, albeit cautiously, to accept the beauty that was casting its spell (slowly) on me.
Now, here’s why I’m sharing this with you – I want to normalize not falling head over heels in love with your HGB at first sight. It’s absolutely okay not to be instantly smitten. You see, you should truly love what you buy, and sometimes, that love can take a little time to bloom.
It wasn’t until I got back home in India and examined the bag and its packaging that I discovered it was a limited edition! How? Well, the logo on the cover was a deep blue instead of the staple brown, and inside the box, there was a blue slope designed to cradle the bag. It was like finding an unexpected treasure!
I don’t know if it’s the unique story behind the purchase, the exclusivity of the limited edition bag, or the barrage of compliments I receive every time I carry it, but I have to admit, I fall a little more in love with my Kelly each and every time I carry her. It just goes to show, sometimes love can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
In a nutshell, fellow luxury aficionados, do your homework, know your desires, and be prepared for the unexpected surprises that this journey may bring. The pursuit of luxury is an adventure in itself, and sometimes, it’s the unexpected twists and turns that make it all the more exhilarating. So, plan meticulously, but also leave room for spontaneity, and above all, relish every moment of the quest for that perfect luxury treasure. Happy hunting. May your journeys be filled with stylish success!
Written by Sudha Maheshwari for PurseBop
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Updated: October 21st, 2023