Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts


Luxury Shopping In Paris

Shopping is just shopping until you go to Paris and do it. Whether you buy a baguette or a handbag, everything seems classier, yummier, more luxurious.
We came across several jewelry stores with an assortment of vintage statement pieces. I love the purple stones!

These Chanel necklaces are perfect for layering or wearing by themselves. 

World famous Ladurée macaroons and pastries.  

Paris really does hold the key to this fashionista's heart!


Chasing Hermès Around St. Germaine

Did you know that Hermès was the first brand to introduce zippers on ladies handbags? Let's all take a minute to thank Hermès for developing a way to keep our valuables secure and safe within our fashionable accessories.

Now that we have established one of the many cool fun facts that surround this luxury brand, let's delve in to the important stuff, a.k.a the handbags themselves.
The famous Birkin bag debuted in 1984 on the arm of Actress Jane Birkin. It became all the rage then and now! This handbag holds the record for the longest waiting list of any luxury accessory. Talk about crazy!

For a handbag with that long of a waiting list I was surprised that I saw so many on my trip to Paris Fashion Week. Take a look at some of the varieties I saw. 

Of course, Hermès doesn't just make luxury handbags. They've perfected the art of luxury accessories, also. 


Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Runway Show

To say the Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Runway Show at the Grand Palias during Paris Fashion Week was the highlight of fashion season would be an understatement. Karl Lagerfeld certainly knows how to put on an outstanding show.

Not only was it a complete dream to see the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week, but we had front row seats to the event! *Sigh*

As the models strutted their stuff down the runway lined with wind turbines, stars ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Kanye West to Rachel Zoe sat fully entranced by the airy dresses and blouses that fluttered by. 

At the end of the show Chanel's Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld, made his way down the runway for the finale. 


Hermes Authentication Summary

Authentication Summary

This summary was written by The Vintage Contessa drawing from 30 plus years of personal and professional experience purveying and selling Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and other designer handbags and accessories. The overall summary includes extensive internet research and professional consultation with industry experts. This document should be used as a reference however, it is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. The Vintage Contessa guarantees authenticity of all of our handbags and accessories, however this document alone will not assure authentication from any other source. As with any industry, there are exceptions to every rule and guideline modifications. Recommendations, modifications or changes are highly encouraged. Please email

If you are interested in purchasing a Hermes Birkin click here, a Hermes Kelly click here, a Hermes Constance click here, another Hermes style click here.

Happy Reading!

Hermes Birkin and Kelly Authentication

  • Leathers and Exotic Skins
    • Only the finest leathers and exotic skins are used to create each bag. The bags are made by hand with every detail considered in the process.
    • A Birkin bag should have very few if any bulges in the leather. It will sit upright and has a smooth silhouette.
    • All exotic skin Birkins and Kellys include crocodile, alligator, ostrich, lizard. Each is sold with a CITIES to be used for transportation. You will not be able to enter certain countries with an exotic bag without the passport for the Birkin/Kelly.
    • Hermes tri-color bags are rare.
    • Hermes utilizes both texured and smooth leather styles. Find out more here
      • Togo or calf is textured and scratch resistant
      • Ogo
      • Clemence is a softer leather
      • Natural Barenia
      • Chevre is goat
      • Box is smooth and shiny
      • Chamonix
      • swift is a newer leather
      • Rodeo is a newer leather.
      • Vibrato leather is created by stacking layers of goatskin together and then cutting a "cross-section", appearing striated.
      • Veau Graine Lisse is pressed, textured and currently discontinued
      • Courcheval is pressed, textured and currently discontinued.
  • Sizes and Styles
    • Birkins are made in the following sizes: 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45cm
      • The size 45 Birkin is generally used for travel and has longer straps.
      • The Picotin is often called the "baby Birkin" and does not truly fasten closed.
    • The Haut au Courries, High belt, is a Hermes bag that is similar to a Birkin, from the same family, with a body that it is slightly taller and straps that are shorter. The "High belts" or the Haut au Courries handbags are manufactured in sizes 27, 32, 37.
    • Kelly sizes: 20, 25, 28, 32, and 35 cm.
      • Kelly bag are made in two styles.
        • Rigide has exterior (outer) stitching and tends to be more costly.
        • Souple has interior stitching with a distressed softer leather.
      • All leather options are available, along with HW, and shoulder strap.
    • In the year 2006 – 2007 the Lindy and Bombay became popular models that are easy to find.
    • The Shooting Star bags, made by the Hermes craftsmen for their personal use, cannot be serviced by Hermes.
  • Hardware
    • Authentic Birkins are created with keys, clochette, buckle, and feet studs.
    • Most bags are created with Gold plated or Palladium finish. The more rare finishes are Brushed Gold, Silver, Brushed Silver, and Ruthenium
      • 24K plated gold
      • Silver palladium
      • Ruthenium or Burnished
      • Guilloche -Diamond cut pattern HW palladium]
    • The Birkin sits on four feet and will stand up on its own without wobbling. The feet will not screw off easily.
    • In general most hardware does not tarnish however tarnishing is possible but not peeling or wearing. For example if the hardware is palladium and gold is showing through, it is fake. If palladium shows wear and turns black, it is possibly authentic.
    • The lock will have the words Hermes engraved on the bottom and the number of the key which corresponds to the lock.
    • The lock will say "Hermes" on the bottom of it and the keys will be numbered to match the number of the lock. The keys will also say Hermes on the opposite side.
    • There are a few vintage Hermes bags with lock and key sets, that will also have Hermes etched on the reverse side.
    • The clochette cover is made of one piece of leather. Not two pieces sewn together.
    • From Purse Blog, picture below: Bags earlier than 2000 don't have any serial number under the lock. It just has Hermes stamp and the corresponding key number.
    • From purse blog, picture below: Hermes has changed style of lock numbering several times even within the last few years, so no, they are not necessarily consistent. And it is also possible that a lock/clochette may be bought separately if the original is lost so a newer lock can be sold with an older bag.

Stitching, Zipper and Detailing
  • The stitching will be slanted and even, in perfect alignment.
  • The majority of the time the stitching color will match the color of the bag.
  • Hermes stitch lines should be flawless, as every Hermes bag is handmade and hand sewn.
  • Sloppy, uneven stitching is an automatic red flag. Hermes bags are not made with a sewing machine, so every stitch is handmade and inspected.
  • Newer zippers are marked with large block letters that say HERMES.
  • An authentic Hermes zipper pull will remain parallel to the zipper line. If it flops down, or hangs down at a 90 degree angle from the zipper line, it is a fake. The zipper mechanism itself is a high quality design, one that is set up to lock (or hold) the zipper pull in a parallel position. This keeps the zipper pull from dangling loosely and remains stiff and in place.
  • Not all Kelly and Birkin zippers start with an “H” at the base of the zipper.
  • A Birkin has two inner pockets with zippered and non zippered pocket.

  • The leather straps that buckle on the front of the bag should be clean on the edges. (Top strap is fake; bottom strap is real)

  • The front center exterior of the bag has a stamp stating “Hermes Paris, Made in Paris”. The words are clear and the accent on the second e.  Most stamps are created in silver and gold. However I have seen a bag with repair papers from Hermes that has a stamp in chocolate brown.
  • The wording will line up evenly and is centered. The top HERMES stamp is centered within the bottom MADE IN FRANCE stamp.
  • Hermes ALWAYS uses embossed markings on their bags.  They will never use a leather tag or metal nameplate or anything of that sort.

  • The logo stamp is consistent. However, I have an Evelyn bag purchased from Hermes in Paris and with wear, the accent mark of the E has faded.

  • Each Birkin has a stamp on the interior of the bag on the back flap of the leather. They will have the stamp of the years and the artisans ID stamp.
  • Hermes Date Code List
    • No Shape 1945 to 1970
      • - 1945 A
      • - 1946 B
      • - 1947 C
      • - 1948 D
      • - 1949 E
      • - 1950 F
      • - 1951 G
      • - 1952 H
      • - 1953 I
      • - 1954 J
      • - 1955 K
      • - 1956 L
      • - 1957 M
      • - 1958 N
      • - 1959 O
      • - 1960 P
      • - 1961 Q
      • - 1962 R
      • - 1963 S
      • - 1964 T
      • - 1965 U
      • - 1966 V
      • - 1967 W
      • - 1968 X
      • - 1969 Y
      • - 1970 Z
    • Circle- 1971 - 1996
      • - 1971 A
      • - 1972 B
      • - 1973 C
      • - 1974 D
      • - 1975 E
      • - 1976 F
      • - 1977 G
      • - 1978 H
      • - 1979 I
      • - 1980 J
      • - 1981 K
      • - 1982 L
      • - 1983 M
      • - 1984 N
      • - 1985 O
      • - 1986 P
      • - 1987 Q
      • - 1988 R
      • - 1989 S
      • - 1990 T
      • - 1991 U
      • - 1992 V
      • - 1993 W
      • - 1994 X
      • - 1995 Y
      • - 1996 Z
    • Square- 1997 - 2012
      • - 1997 A
      • - 1998 B
      • - 1999 C
      • - 2000 D
      • - 2001 E
      • - 2002 F
      • - 2003 G
      • - 2004 H
      • - 2005 I
      • - 2006 J
      • - 2007 K
      • - 2008 L
      • - 2009 M
      • - 2010 N
      • - 2011 O
      • - 2012 P
  • Exotic Skin Stamps
    • Square:  Indicates alligator skins
    • Carrot:  The “^” sign indicates Porosus Crocodile
    • Two dots:  The “. .” sign indicates Niloticus Crocodile (from the Nile river)
    • Dash: The “-“ sign indicates Lizard skin.

 Example of the Porosus Croc stamp

  • Colors
    • Gold -rich tan
    • Black
    • Blue Jean -sky blue
    • Raisin- Dark purple bright, lighter than violet
    • Violet- Bright purple
    • Cyclamen- Mixture of lavender and pink
    • Fuchsia- Rich, bright pink.
    • Potiron- Less bright orange with brown undertones. It appears dark on Chevre leather and bright on Togo.
    • Classic orange-Classic Hermes color in bright tangerine
    • Olive. Jade. Forest green
    • Chartruese: Green with yellow undertone
    • Vert Anis: Bright Apple green
    • Blue sapphire.
    • Turquoise: Bright green-blue
    • Blue Roi-Bright royal blue. In exotic leathers it has a denim-blue look. Thalassa: Mediterranean Sea Blue same family as Blue Jean, but deeper
    • Ink- blue-black Indigo
    • Dark Navy Blue Blue Jean- bright sky blue, (depending on leather texture[comes off as bright, on Braise.
    • Brique- Brick Red
    • Vermillion- Bright tomato red with orange undertone
    • Rouge Vif- bright cherry or lipstick red, raspberry pink undertone
    • Rouge Hermes- Deep wine red, blue/pink undertone
  • Dust Bag and Rain Cover
    • Vintage dustbags are Tan velour.
    • Newer dust bags were orange cotten flannel.
    • Post 2007 they are a beige and light brown Herringbone Toile. 
    • The rain cover is soft to the touch and included in every bag. 
  • Tags, Authenticity Papers, Receipts
    • Hermes bags are note sold with card certificates or paper. Orange authenticity cards and hang tags are NOT provided by Hermes.
    • Original receipts are not a guarantee of authenticity.  Receipts can be counterfeited, just like anything else.  If a seller makes this claim, as for a copy and make sure the receipt has the Hermes store name and number, and the client name/number.  Use this information to call the store and ask them to verify that the bag was originally purchased at there.
    •    Each client has a sales assistant that can validate a bag and model was purchased at their boutique.
    • Hermes bags are NOT made with plastic wrapping or hangtags on them.

Hermes Scarves

  • Weight, Fabric and Size
    • An authentic Hermès carrè scarf is 100% silk, measuring 35” x 35”, weighing approximately 63 grams or 2.2. ounces. An authentic Hermès carrè will be exactly 35” x 35” or 90 x 90 cm. The exception to this will be scarves such as the pocket square, GM shawl, or pre owned and vintage scarves. Silk fibers shrink when dry cleaning or hand washing so measurements of pre owned or vintage scarf may vary.
  • Color
    • Most Hermès scarves are very colorful and also beautifully finished and have depth to them.
  • Back of carrè.
    • Design on an authentic Hermès carrè is clearly color saturated on the back and the front.
  • Care tag.
    • Hermès has changed the size and style of care tags a numerous times.
    • Prior to 1987, Hermès care tags were written in French and or English. Occasionally they were made with a Department store tag, such as the Bonwit Teller care tag.  The tag may include washing / care symbols.
    • After 1987, Hermès care tags were written in both French & English as noted below : 
      • Fabrique en France / Made in France  100% soie /  100% silk  Dry clean only
      • Washing / care symbols appear
    • After 1998, Hermès care tags were written in both French & English as noted below:
      • Made in France
      • Soie 100% Silk
      • Dry clean only
      • Washing / care symbols appear
  • Copyright Symbol
    • Hermès began to copyright their scarves in approximately 1968.
    • For several years, the placement of the copyright symbol moved to different locations on the design. Copyrights may appear in the lower center panel next to Hermès-Paris, or it may be inches away tucked inside a ribbon or corner.
    • There is even one design with four or five copyright symbols on one carrè.
    • After 1967, most scarves included a copyright symbol somewhere in the design.
    • Collections from 2000 forward may show the copyright symbol in the upper left panel next to Hermès-Paris in small print.
  • Hems
    • Most Hermès scarves are made with hand rolled and hand stitched hems, to the front.
  • Design title & artist
    • The design title and artist appear clearly marked and easy to read.
  • Accent on the E
    • Hermès is French and the second e almost always* has an accent over the second E.
      • HERMÈS or if in lower case, Hermès


Bracelets are made with serial numbers. Again, the workmanship is completed by hand so stitching and the finish of the leather should be clean. The Hermes logo will have an accent over the second e. The hardware is gold- or silver-plated.
Hermes Belt
  • Leather
    • Hermès belts are made from only the highest quality calf leather, with the authentic leather smell, and will be soft and smooth to the touch. The ‘H’ Belts are always double sided, with a different color of leather on each side.
  • Buckle Hardware
    • Authentic Hermès belt buckles are made with highly expensive materials including Palladium and Gold. The buckle will be stamped with the Hermès logo, with an accent on the second E.
  • Stitching
    • The Stitching on an authentic Hermès belt will be perfectly straight, without nicks or imperfections when it is new. Every thread will be in place.


Birkin Obsession

A Birkin bag is a prized possession for every fashionista.
Check out the Birkin's in our shop here.

 The Illusive Birkin Obsession

Every girl has a bit of a Birkin obsession, right? Ever since Sex and the City when Samantha’s waitlisted Birkin made the bag a household name,  fashionistas worldwide young and old have  added them to their wish list. However, it seems that with growing WISH lists there are growing WAIT lists.  In fact the wait for an authentic Birkin from a Hermes boutique has grown to Jack and the Bean Stock levels.  And the prices on the resale market seem to grow in exact relation. So, I’m not one to complain about growth in the handbag market, but REALLY?  Are some handbags actually worth the price of the average American home?

I will play devil’s advocate and say yes.  And partially, I answer yes, because I mean it.  A man can have lofty goals of a Ferrari, private jet or a yacht.  Which, I realize are not limited to a man, so I hope no offense is taken, but most of the women I know have bucket lists that are a bit more intimate. So does that $100,000 plus handbag really sound so outrageous when you compare it to a private jet or a new Ferrari?  It’s all relative, right?

With international markets growing in China and India it seems that stock is more space than ever.  As Tina Craig with the Bag Snob wrote,  
“In the 15 years that I have been collecting Hermès, I have never seen demand and consumption like this! Walk into any Hermès boutique, from Paris to Beverly Hills– and you’ll most likely find them bare. There just aren’t enough bags (or wallets, or belts, or anything leather for that matter) to meet demand. Unlike the old days when they kept the good stuff below to pull out for special clients, they really don’t have any stock. And anything that does arrive is usually sold or spoken for before it leaves the New Jersey fulfillment center.”
She continues. “My SA(sales associate) at the Hermès Paris boutique told me that he gets no less than 200 inquiries PER DAY about birkins alone (one SA at the Beverly Hills boutique said it was more like 300 per day for him). One option is to purchase in the secondary market from reliable sources like Heritage Auctions– you will have to pay 30-100% more for some of the bags (depending on color) but it’s better than not having an Hermès bag at all, isn’t it?”

Birkins are truly at Cult Status levels.  In a book I read over spring break from the same author as The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger, writes a fabulous essay about the love and admiration of the almost unattainable thus even more covetable Hermes Birkin.  In “Everyone Worth Knowing” she writes,
“It’s not a purse, Bette, it’s a way of life. I would pay that (twenty grand range)in a heartbeat if I could just get my hands on one.”  

“ I didn’t think there is anyone left on the planet who wasn’t at least on the listfor a Birkin.  Put yourself on immediately and maybe- just maybe- you’ll get one in time to give your daughter one someday.”

“ You don’t get it.  It’s not just a bag.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s a statement.  It summarizes who you are as a person.  It’s a reason for living.

I think some of this is a bit overboard but people spend their money in different ways and on different thing s that make them happy.  One of my favorite advertisements years ago was for Lexus.  It said, “Whoever says money can’t buy happiness must be spending it wrong.” 
We all know money can’t buy happiness but it sure makes the journey a little more luxurious and a Birkin certainly fits in that category.


Must See... Paris

The Vintage Contessa shares her favorite chic spots in Paris

Rob, Bella and I had the most amazing opportunity in the summer of 2010. We rented an apartment in Paris on Avenue de Wagram in the 17th for 8 weeks. It was an amazing journey. People are constantly asking me for suggestions on travel to Paris. Here are a few of our favorite things…

i. Favorite small museum- Orangerie Museum, Tuileries gardens, Paris
ii. Most inspirational art- Degas at Musee de Orsay
iii. Favorite Museum Lunch spot- Café Marley at Louvre
iv. Favorite Parisian Lunch cafe- Le Deux Magot in St. Germaine
v. Best Lunch View of Paris – Jules Verne in Eiffel tower-
vi. Restaurant with Best View of the Eiffel Tower- Café De l’Homme at the Trocadero
vii. Favorite place for afternnon tea- Laudere near Opera house
viii. Favorite restaurant for Truffles- Maison de la de Truffe
ix. Favorite spot for people watching – Hotel Costes
x. Favorite Patio Lunch in the Summer- Hotel Plaza Athene La Cour Jardin
xi. Favorite Park and Best Place to take children- Theatres des Marionenettes du Luxembourg
xii. Favorite American Grocery to get a taste of home- Thanksgiving Le Marais
xiii. Best apartment provider for Americans- A La Carte Paris-
xiv. Fab French Concept Store for French fashion and music inspiration- Colette on Rue Saint- Honore
xv. Favorite Shopping Experience for Everything French in Fashion- Printemps-
xvi. Favorite Boutique sale- Hermes Sale at an undisclosed location, late June, you must ask, it wont be published
xvii. Favorite Luxury Vintage Shop- Depot Vente du 17eme (17th arrondissment)
xviii. Favorite Flea Market- Saint-Ouen / Porte de Clignancourt - "Le march aux puces de Saint-Ouen"-

Parisian Inspiration on
Vintage YSL Clutch
Vintage Chanel
Vintage Hermes Kelly Bag

 Much Love,
 The Vintage Contessa from Paris