Friday, July 17, 2015

When shopping abroad,
vintage purchases are some of the hardest to weigh. After all, if you walk
away from a one-off piece, there is no going back. Therefore, for anyone on a
tight budget, it is perhaps best to stay away from the vintage boutiques of
Paris. Thanks to its proximity to big fashion houses like Chanel, Lanvin
and Hermès, Paris is packed with high-quality second-hand
fashion—especially accessories. As any industry insider will tell you,
there's now a massive market in vintage Birkins, Kellys, Constances and
Plumes, and the French capital is one of the best places to buy them. To
reflect the growing market for second-hand bags, Artcurial—the upstart
auction house that's grown into a player in the 14 years since it
launched—has a dedicated Hermès specialist. Her name is Eva Yoko Gault,
and, perhaps unsurprisingly, she is a veritable poster-girl for the benefits
of going vintage. "Vintage reflects another kind of authenticity,"
Yoko Gault told me. "These are pieces with history and soul—and there's
no waiting list, either. " Price is another major advantage, with most
good-condition vintage Hermes bags going for around half their in-store price
at auction. When picking a particular style, Yoko Gault says there are
important considerations to be made. "Normally I recommend grained leather,
which is the most durable and won't show scratches as easily," she says.
Don't be dismayed if your bag's hardware fades—this is just part of its
natural life cycle. "Even in a genuine Hermès bag, the gilt metal hardware
will fade, so that's not a sign of a fake. " Yoko Gault says the Birkin
and Kelly styles remain the best investments for resale, but the Constance,
with its visible H, is rising in value, too. Just make sure to stuff the bag
when you're not carrying it. Despite the Birkin and Kelly bags' practical
metal feet, the bottom corners do scratch, so don't leave yours on the
Courtesy Artcurial Due to the mammoth
traffic in fakes, Yoko Gault is emphatic that certified auctions are the
safest place to pick up a used bag. But she does concede that certain
reputable Paris boutiques, such as Luxe &Vintage (31 Galerie Montpensier,
75001), Royal 41 Galerie (41 Galerie Montpensier), or Collector Square (70 rue
Bonaparte, 75006), are good alternatives. If you happen to be in Monaco on
July 22, for Artcurial's next vintage Hermès auction of 100 exceptional
bags, enjoy. (Think acid-bright croc, diamond trim, artist customizations,
and more. ) For those of us not in the neighborhood, the catalogue still makes
for pretty interesting reading. Alexandra Marshall is a contributing
editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design,
architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris,
that she is very busy. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram. More good
reads from T+L:
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• Best Places to Travel in 2015 Did you enjoy
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