Monday, March 17, 2008

Bringing Home the Birkin

I had the good fortune of getting my hands on an advanced copy of Michael Tonello’s Bringing Home the Birkin before its scheduled date of publication. I almost felt like the lucky recipient of a coveted Birkin bag itself – one of these advanced copies sold for $1,000 on ebay!

Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello is a fun and amusing true-life tale about a man who decides to do what many of us fantasize about: he packs his (bulging) bags and moves to Europe. Michael has a job lined up and finds an apartment to die for in the trendiest section of Barcelona. Everything is moving along swimmingly and he is living his dream until his job prospect falls apart. Now saddled with a five year lease and not a prayer of receiving a work visa any time soon, Michael is desperate for a source of income to keep his ex-pat dream alive. As he fills his days arranging his full to bursting armoires and closets, inspiration strikes: why not make a little profit while cleaning house? Michael begins listing his possessions on ebay and finds that he can turn quite a tidy profit. However, his real windfall doesn’t occur until he realizes that there is a not-so-tiny subset of Americans obsessed with all things Hermes and that living in Barcelona affords him a huge advantage in obtaining discontinued Hermes scarf patterns. Soon Michael is traversing every Hermes store in Spain and stocking up on thousands of dollars worth of the coveted scarves.

Then it happens… of his “customers” asks for the impossible: a Hermes Birkin bag. But this isn’t just any bag. Ownership of a Hermes Birkin takes years of patiently waiting for your name to arrive at the top of their lengthy waiting list. The Birkin is the bald-headed eagle of bags – rare and not often seen. Michael makes it his mission to crack the Birkin code and indeed discovers what he calls his “formula” on instantly obtaining Birkins from the clutches of the Hermes sales people. Armed with his profitable formula, Michael crosses the world snatching up Birkins for delivery to his Hermes-starved clientele.

Michael Tonello is an engaging and amusing narrator and I loved reading of his travels to Brazil, Chile, Paris, Athens, Belgium, Germany, St. Tropez, Madrid, and many other exotic locales. Tonello is also witty and comical, especially when describing his adventures in finessing the Hermes sales people. I laughed out loud reading his “instruction manual” on obtaining Birkins from the different types of salespeople – there is the most welcomed “Grandmother”, the frustrating “Ingenue”, the hard-to-crack “Nazi”, the annoying “Incurable Romantic”, and the dreaded “Farmer”. Oh, and if you are Birkin shopping in Italy, you might need to grease the palms of the “Godfather”!

This is the perfect book for those who love travel and fashion. Tonello sums it up perfectly himself when he wrote that those who don’t like it must not like fashion, celebrities, travel, entrepreneurial spirit, humor, fine cuisine, or true love. Enjoy!

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