I have some idea where I'm going with this post but not 100%. Sometimes that's the most fun way to write...just start going at it and see where it turns up. Might be compelling to one or two of you out there, and it might be good help for any insomniacs! Either way, happy to help.
I'm in one of those moods where just I feel like being lazy and just sitting here rambling, er, writing. And I woke up smiling remembering last night's Canucks/Blackhawks game...this hockey playoff series is gonna be EPIC no matter how it shakes out. Nothing like a blowout win for the Canucks in the United Center...5-1 last night! But it was only the first game. One game at a time, my friends.
So, I met a few good friends for coffee and mimosas yesterday at the local Hermes boutique. My good friend T invited me to join her and I thought sure, why not? I didn't realize until the night before that this event - a scarf tying workshop - started around 9:00am, before the store officially opens! Oh boy - I'm usually fast asleep at that hour, especially on a Saturday!
I pulled into the parking garage at the Bravern still somewhat sleepy and in a daze. It was almost ghost-townish, riding the outdoor escalator up to the 2nd floor shops - all front doors locked, windows dark, as most stores don't open until around 10. The Bravern is a newer layout around here, more "village-like" with outdoor walkways and shopping compared to the more traditional covered shopping mall. Never did I think I'd see the day that we'd have an outdoor escalator around here. You see, here in the Pacific Northwest we're known for our rain and drizzle. Sure we've got glorious weather too, but smart locals know that if you ever have any sort of outdoor event planned - even in July or August - you'd better have a rock-solid indoor Plan B too. Or at least have a good tarp company on speed dial. The Bravern does have nice umbrella stands throughout, but if it's a shopping day for me and it's pouring rain you can bet I'll be at Bellevue Square (our covered mall).
I arrived at the Hermes boutique and gave T a big hug. I passed on the mimosas...one of my personality quirks is that I can't stand orange juice, so I'm usually one to say hold the OJ, I'll take a glass of champagne. But booze at 9:00am didn't seem like a good idea so I stuck with coffee.
As always, everything in the boutique was impeccable. From scarves to handbags, belts, shoes, jewelry, luggage - absolutely amazing.
What's even more amazing are the prices - they're not for the faint of heart. This is a boutique where lots of things don't even have price tags on them. Kinda reminds me of that whole "if you have to ask you can't afford it" shtick.
Hermes (that's "air MEZ" with a short 'e') is a luxury goods brand. Kinda like the Ferrari or Porsche equivalent of luxury, for those who might not follow the who's who of designers. They've been around since the 1830s so you can bet they know their stuff. Scarves are silk-screened by hand and the hems are hand-stitched. Leather goods are hand stitched as well - no assembly lines.
So...those are just a couple reasons why their products are so high-priced. Impeccable materials, everything hand-crafted in France - oh my! We browsed around the boutique yesterday, admiring $8000 handbags, $1200 small leather agendas and $900 scarves with no flinching. "This bag's $8000? Oh, OK..." Kind of in the same tone as oh, did you know that chicken is on special today at the grocery store? Oh, OK...
What do I love about their products? Everything is effortlessly chic and understated. Nothing flashy, bling-y or "look at me" here. You won't find a glaring "H" on anything save for a small belt buckle perhaps. In fact, when I first started meeting this group of women for lunch and shopping periodically I didn't even know many of their own bags were Hermes, save for the more famous Kelly or the Birkin (in the picture here). Thank you, wikipedia, for that picture - I don't see pink Birkins around here but I felt I could use this picture without getting yelled at over the Internet, ha ha.
I've learned quite a bit more about their different handbag styles, leathers, colors, sizes. There's the Bolide and the Lindy for starters. And on and on.
What I DON'T like are the elitist tactics required to purchase some of these items. I might be talking out of my ass but as I've learned the ritual is to develop a rapport with one Sales Associate (SA) and purchase a few smaller items to start. Then as you continue to grow your collection you "might" be offered the opportunity to purchase a Birkin, say. Nope, you can't march into a boutique brand new and buy one off the shelf. They are made to order and each one has to be approved by the mother ship in France. There might be some exceptions if you are a celebrity I'd imagine. Who knows. I really don't mean this to be a bash on Hermes. AND if I'm not stating the ritual here correctly someone please let me know. But that's my understanding of it.
So, if I had the cash, why isn't my money as good as anyone else's who has already purchased a bunch of other stuff? I just don't get it. And despite that sales protocol, I'm secretly relieved that a lot of the items don't really "sing" to me. Because at those prices you'd better believe whatever I would purchase had better rock my pants off. Yesterday's visit was probably my third and I still left feeling the same way.
However, I do always feel very welcomed in the boutique, even if I'm more a looker/gawker than potential purchaser. The SAs are always very warm, helpful and friendly - no snobby attitudes thank goodness. Meanwhile, T let me borrow one of her scarves and my friend J - what a fabulous surprise to see her there - showed me how to tie it. I found out that J was actually called in to train the new SAs on how to tie scarves when this boutique first opened last fall - wow! J has exquisite taste and really should be a personal stylist. She's so much fun to shop with and helped me pick out a pair of wonderful sunglasses a couple years ago. Oh yes, the days when part of a tax refund could go toward a nice splurge, not paying the bills!
As we were saying our goodbyes we each received a small souvenir - a signature small, orange round box tied with that famous brown ribbon...with a few small candies inside. I popped one into my mouth driving home, my 'scarf on loan' from T still tied around my neck. Yummm - salt water taffy!
And while I was watching the hockey game last night I decided to browse the Hermes website...uh oh, something now has officially "sung" to me. A beautiful cashmere and silk shawl - fabulous blue shades and a design called "coaching." I'll leave it at that for now.
Someday, maybe someday..