Thursday, February 26, 2009

THE Auction of the Century - Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Berge Collection

Ok, I waited in line for 3 hours. The
exposition of the items up for sale
was for only three days and then all of it was going to different homes, via the Christie's auction. I waited until the weekend was over to head over to the Grand Palais. Those two days, the expo was open until midnight and on Monday it would only be open until 1pm and then they had to prepare for the sale. So, I figured it was a weekday, how bad could it be? I was totally wrong.

I arrived at the Grand Palais to find a line of umbrellas winding around the building. I arrived at 9:30, a half hour after it had opened. The security guard there said no one else was allowed to wait because already the wait was 5 hours!!! I was stunned. But something inside of me said to wait and just see what happens. Alas, I waited around and the line started to move....quickly! Myself and several other people, mainly women who clearly had nothing else pending, followed the security guard and his metal gate(to keep us at bay) for a good twenty minutes. I
started chatting with a few people and some of them waited the day before for several hours, only to have been turned away. I do not know if I could have had that type of tenancity, but I kind of admired them for it. Only in Paris would you find people so in love with culture, art and style to wait in line for an art exposition!

Once inside, it was if you entered another world. The exposition was set up as rooms in YSL and Pierre Berge's apartments. The main apartment featured with the one on rue Babylone. On each walls, was a collage of sorts of the different textures found in the collection. It was mesmerizing. Upon entering you saw the muscular torso of a minataur, as if it was greeting you and letting you know you were in the garden of eden. There was haunting music playing and tons of people desperately craning their necks trying to get a peek and the luscious life of YSL and his partner.

The collection was created over a fifty-year period. One could see some of the phases they went through. There were alot of minaturs, male torsos (obvious), cobras and a wonderful desire for the exotic. My favorite piece was a metal owl made by german goldsmiths. It was estimated at 70,000 euros, but was sold for nearly 300,000 euros. I told my husband about it, but he just humored me and said that I probably didn't have enough pennies for the little owl. The Matisse painting that sold for 41 million dollars was really stunning. The most memorable pieces were the bronze heads from China. They were bigger than expected and seduced you with their beauty. If I were the government of China, I would want them returned as well. They were gorgeous.

All in all, the expo was an amazing experience. It was a chance to see a living collection before it was to be dissected and sent away to different homes. As one walked around, the collection represented a life that was clearly well lived.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The HERMES sale. It has taken me this long to recover from it.....

So, every sale season, Hermes has a special sale that is held in the Palais de Congres. Thus, their stores never have the sale items and the immaculate organization there never gets disrupted. I have been to this sale twice. As we all know, Hermes makes practically the mos expensive 'IT' bag ever...the Birkin. The Kelly and the Birken are the Holy Grails of purses. But to obtain one, there is usually a long wait list (meaning years!) and it will cost you a very pretty penny. Each bag is handmade by one person and one bag normally takes several days to finish. They are amazing. So, one can imagine that this type of attention to detail translates to their other items. We can never forget the 'carre'- their beautiful scarves which are so artistic and colorful, we could collect them forever. As you can imagine, I have started my own collection!

The price points are very high, even on sale. Beach towels will set you back 200 euros, carres were 145 euros ( 100 euros cheaper than in the stores!) and the clothing starts at around 500 euros. Hermes is definitely the BCBG brand (french word for preppy or our version of WASP) so you can imagine what the crowd was like!

The Palais de Congres is basically a big convention center. You wait in line for at least an hour with women laquered with furs and jewels. This was easily the most aggressive crowd I have encountered in all the sales I attended this past season. Once inside, you are required to show if you have anything from Hermes, check your coat and are given a clear bag. I first hit the scarf table and women were pushing each other, grabbing scarves and hogging the mirrors. It was intense. They of course did not have any of the classic bags for sale, only the boring ones that they make for the people who want Hermes, regardless if they are totally unattractive. The sale was also littered with Japonista fashionistas, so those bags definitely sold! There was even a duty-free counter at this sale.
I bought a scarf, but the atmosphere was so thick with passive and sometimes very aggressive energy that I would recommend going when you are really ready to fight a bit.