Bounjour Paris - Diane Gilman


Like lemmings to the sea, bees to honey, oil to vinegar, French women love to shop!! I was reminded of this fact on my trip to Paris after a long absence from the City of Lights.

French women love to dress also…I was so impressed with the myriad of unique ways each woman put herself together. There’s so much care and individual spirit in the impeccable outfits, each piece is her own personal touch. Truly an art form for them….it makes me want to throw out every mass produced piece of clothing in my closet and start over!

Ahh….but I am diverting from the point….shopping! My two major shopping experiences in Paris couldn’t have been further apart. Or closer together, as they both demonstrated the lust for status expressed in fashion! My travel mate, Simon, suggested we shop Galeries Lafayette….innocent to the fact it was their half yearly sale…madhouse is completely inadequate to describe the experience….a feeding frenzy of Prada, Gucci, Chloe, Dior markdowns!!!! Tens of thousands of female shoppers swarming, pushing, grabbing and shoving……even a veteran shopper such as moi was overwhelmed by the crush and noise….the ground floor was literally shaking!!! I never reached the floor, which houses designer fashion….impossible to wrestle my way to the escalators. Though, to be honest, I did score an incredible acid yellow Fendi purse with its own matching fur pompon…I had to justify the trip into shopping insanity, right?!

The second shopping experience, at Hermes on Rue Saint Honore, was equally insane…but from a slightly different perspective…Hermes. Perhaps the most venerated and coveted status brand in the world…I have always said the day I buy a buy a Birkin Bag, I can die a happy woman!

However, truth be told, I have never, in all the years I have lived in Manhattan, worked up the nerve to go Madison Avenue store and asked to see the Birkin bag collection…but, somehow…in Paris, shopping with my friend, it seemed like a good idea….

With Birkin Bags’ average price range laying somewhere between $30,000 & $100,000, depending on the materials used, one would think Hermes gets a couple of customers a day….logical right? Wrong! buying a Birkin is like going to the Deli to order a pound of pastrami…take a number and get in line…a loooooooong line! I was about #20! But it gets better and crazier than that…the line was held up by an American family, buying multiple Birkins for their 11 year old daughter! Crazy colors…all different sizes…an exercise in excess! (I was tempted to jump the line and ask them to adopt me!)

I finally gave up waiting, as I knew I would never spend that kind of money for an accessory (maybe for a car but not a handbag). So I left, slightly deflated but still determined to pick up and absorb as much French chic as possible …so we drifted to Goyard…..yet another status handbag store…but that American family had once again beat us to it… and you guessed it! Their baby was the beneficiary of several sensationally expensive bags…so I ask….when is too much not enough? I guess I’ll just have to keep shopping to find the answer…Adieu & bonjour my friends…