Bringing Home the Birkin
Michael Tonello is the Crocodile Dundee of the luxury set, skilled in clever means of capturing elusive prey. When Michael bags his beast, however, it's already been transformed into that most expensive and coveted of handbags: the Hermes Birkin. (Genuflect here.)
Michael's breezy travelogue, Bringing Home the Birkin, is a perfect beach read -- at least if by "beach" you mean the Hamptons, St. Barth's, Ibiza, or similar. His tale begins in absolute innocence ("What's a Birkin?") and follows the author as he perfects a fool-proof method for not only beating the allegedly "closed" 2-year waiting list, but eventually procuring enough of the high-end croc Birkins to become one of the world's largest resellers (along with his eventual collaborator, Createurs de Luxe). Of course, every great hunter must someday meet his match, but Michael wouldn't be sharing his secret formula if he were still in the game. One can't help but wonder, though, if he still bags a Birkin every now and then, just to keep a hand in.
Throughout his adventures, Michael gleefully outsmarts salespeople and competitors alike, but he's adamant about one thing: no fakes. In his words:
Ever since my mother made me return a stolen half-eaten Heath bar to the supermarket cashier (at the ever-so-impressionable age of four), the idea of stealing anything was psychologically insurmountable. Well, as complexes go, that one has served me well. It went right along with the idea of selling anything inauthentic -- that would be the same as theft to me. No knocking over and no knockoffs, and that's final.
Hermes may or may not appreciate the narrative or the closeup of an orange croc Birkin decorating the cover of the book under the half dust jacket -- the company has a trademark on that belted flap, after all -- but it can't object to the author's respect for genuine goods.
Can't afford to drop thousands or even tens of thousands on a real Hermes bag? Head over to the company's website, which offers the opportunity to download, print, color, cut, fold, and glue a custom Kelly. There are worse ways to amuse a junior fashionista-in-training -- or while away a Friday afternoon at your desk.
As for me, well, some of you know how I feel about orange. Instead, I'll be daydreaming of a black matte croc 35cm with palladium hardware...in my next life.