Today was the opening day of the Hermès vente privée (vahnt preevay) or private sale. It’s time for les soldes in France, but some of the most exclusive stores don’t like to stoop to slapping sale signs in the window and attaching big red tags to their merchandise. They’ll organize their end-of-season clearance off-site. Hermès is one of those brands. Their vente privée is held at the Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot on the western edge of Paris. This year, I was finally going to be able to check it out. I was off work until late-afternoon, so I figured I’d hit the sale, go to the Parc de Bagatelle, and then maybe to the Kabuki exhibit at the YSL museum. It was a great plan.
I got to the huge hall at 10:15 and joined the line that snaked toward the entrance. So much for privée. There were probably about 1,000 people ahead of me. Hmm. Maybe an hour’s wait. I might not have time for the museum before work. After I’d committed half an hour of my life to the line, I heard someone say that it was a three hour wait. Ugh. Three hours. Hmm. That’s a long time, but I really wanted one of the enamel bracelets and the markdowns were up to 70% off. So no museum and no park. So much for my plan. I was very glad I had my Nook with me.
Three and a half hours later, it was my turn to enter the sanctum sanctorum. I was asked if I had any Hermès merchandise on me and given a slip that identified my customer number along with a huge, clear plastic bag to hold my booty. The sales area was well-organized and immaculate. There were more lines to get close to the most popular merchandise, the carrés and étoles. But I was not distracted. I was going straight for the bracelets – except, there weren’t any. I thought I’d just missed them, so I asked a vendeuse for help. She very kindly explained that there were neither bracelets, nor belts, nor bags. If they don’t have a large enough stock left over in a particular category, they simply don’t bring any at all. Maybe in January, she suggested. Sigh. Three and a half hours of my life…gone and no bracelet.I handed back my giant, empty shopping bag and left. Oh well, it was a great plan.