I was too sickened to read it in full. Just a fraction of the evidence presented here would be sufficient to convince any thinking person to consider their wardrobe choices much more carefully. Anyway, I was intrigued enough to search for Bringing Home the Birkin on my library website and was amazed to find it in stock. Judge this book by its cover?

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For more than twenty years, the Hermes Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. With a fabled waiting list of more than two years to purchase one, the average fashionista has a better chance of climbing Mount Everest in Prada pumps than of possessing this coveted carryall. Unless, of course, she happens to know Michael Tonello.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. With down For more than twenty years, the Hermes Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title.

Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Bringing Home the Birkin , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Bringing Home the Birkin. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Instagram Twitter Facebook Amazon Pinterest This was gossipy and fun, and proof that someone doesn't have to seem "likable" to write a good memoir.

Michael Tonello made a living for a while as a "reseller" of the rare Birkin bags, named after Jane Birkin and coveted by highly materialistic, conspicuous consumers everywhere. That's more money than most of us will ever see at once, and it's ridiculous to imagine Instagram Twitter Facebook Amazon Pinterest This was gossipy and fun, and proof that someone doesn't have to seem "likable" to write a good memoir. That's more money than most of us will ever see at once, and it's ridiculous to imagine it going towards handbags and scarves.

Michael Tonello reads like a Sex and the City character, or one of the catty flamboyant BFFs that populate chick-lit novels everywhere. I think he'd relish the Sex and the City comparison, to be honest; he seems to feel very comfortable with who he is, even if who he is sometimes means "politically incorrect" or "jerk," and is utterly unapologetic about his privileged and expensive lifestyle.

There's some very off-color remarks in here, and he has put together a rather judgemental guide based on his perceptions of the walking stereotypes who work at many Hermes branches. It's hilarious AF, though, and pretty on-point based on what I've seen at some luxury stores' service. I liked this book because it was very readable and it was interesting to see how he gamed the system.

He perfected a "formula" for getting a Birkin when many people were either turned down or put on endless waitlists. You can't help but root for the underdog going against Big Corporate; in a way, it's as much of a guilty pleasure to watch as Oobah Butler faking his way to Paris Fashion Week with a pair of jeans he bought at a street market. There's also occasional moments of drama - hiring "thugs" to deal with a sketchy ex-colleague, fights with his boyfriend about money, dealing with snooty salespeople who won't fork over handbags - which add a nice bit of tension to the narrative.

The last chapter was rather jarring considering the tone of the memoir to this point, but I do agree with his point ultimately: the hustle life is a tough and unforgiving one. Initially, he enjoyed the thrill of the chase, but I think his mother's failing health and getting screwed over by that Luc guy put his "work" into perspective. I liked his decision at the end, and appreciated his outlook.

He met a lot of really interesting characters one of whom had him drive her Aston Marton to her second home as a favor and had some of the most luxurious items in the world flow through his hands. As he said in the last chapter, he has some good stories to tell over ouzo now. View all 4 comments. May 05, Jason Pettus rated it really liked it Shelves: memoir , npr-worthy , nonfiction , personal-favorite.

Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally. So are you familiar already with what's known as the Birkin bag? Yeah, I don't get it either. And human nature being what it is, of course, it's nearly impossible to get one's hands on an actual Birkin, with there being an infamous two-year waiting list at most stores to even be given the opportunity to blow that kind of money; needless to say, the self-imposed scarcity drives all these upper-class women with self-esteem issues crazy, with some of them willing to go to almost any lengths and pay any price to get ahold of one of them themselves.

And I'm telling you, this is exactly what you want a personal memoir to be -- funny, thrilling, chock-full of great cocktail-party stories told with the flair of a natural raconteur, following an overall storyline as tight as any fictional project, one whose ending is not necessarily something you can guess beforehand. It's one of those books I just absolutely love coming across as part of maintaining CCLaP -- one of those books I would never naturally pick up myself, but that turned out to be a real delight, one that makes me happy and glad to be in a position to recommend to others.

So how did Tonello do it? Well, for starters, it helps if you don't buy into the hype of brand-obsession yourself; although a longtime collector of fine clothing usually in the service of his former day job, providing hair and makeup services to various east-coast media shoots , Tonello admits that he doesn't share the religious devotion to certain designers like his clients do, and finds it emotionally easy to give up ownership of high-ticket items.

In fact, that's what brought Birkins to his attention in the first place; after impulsively moving to Barcelona in the early s, then having his prearranged job fall apart once arriving, Tonello found himself selling off big portions of his back wardrobe to the various designer consignment stores around the city, amazed that certain decade-old scarves of his would still be snatched up at nearly the original price by certain crazed collectors.

This led him to eBay of course , where he found that he could actually make a profit off of certain items depending on what they were; this then led to certain customers emailing him with "wish lists," certain old and new boutique items that Tonello would keep a specific eye out for while traipsing across Europe in his travels. And this, of course, is what led him to Birkins for the first time, and for developing the same kind of obsession over their fake scarcity as so many of us do when first hearing about them.

And when all is said and done, really, the winning equation to getting a Birkin turns out to not be that complicated at all So if it's a "Grandmother" type, act like the pleasant courteous son they never had; if it's an "Incurable Romantic," act like they have a chance of having sex with you later that night.

Or if you're in New York, blow five thousand dollars. But of course, I'm simplifying the situation for humorous effect; as Donello actually demonstrates here quite well, the real secret to becoming a Birkin regular is more complicated and ephemeral than that, a strange mishmash of sucking up, buying into the hype, and sincere friendships, a legitimate community of high-end haute-couture lovers that you must somehow ingratiate yourself into, if you want any chance of making an actual career out of something like this.

And indeed, this is one of the big strengths of Bringing Home the Birkin , and what separates it from the endless similar chick-lit crap that HarperCollins desperately, desperately wants you to think of when thinking of this book and seriously, HarperCollins marketing department, if you mention Sex in the City one more time in your promotional material I might just vomit all over myself ; because Tonello shines a light here through the foggy haze of all that, and shows how the entire haute-couture culture is an endless house of cards that ultimately relies on peer pressure and catering to people's fears in order to work.

It makes it a weightier book than the ones it will undoubtedly get compared to by others, a stronger tale that doesn't have to rely so much on you being an obsessive fashion-lover yourself in order to enjoy. This is what I mean by how wonderful this book is; it at once gives us all the great anecdotal stories that come with the highest end of the fashion industry, while still pointing out all the depressing realities that such an industry produces, all the various hangers-on in a community like that who swirl around the small amount of rich, beautiful and famous in the center.

That after all has become the biggest problem with America's entertainment industry as well, that there is simply so much money being generated from it in so many different ways that it's become an almost unstoppable monster; it's no longer just about the actors and directors and producers in the middle of it, but all their yoga instructors and dog psychiatrists and personal shoppers, all the gossip columnists and publicists and people who get paid to convince celebrities to use certain products in public.

That's what makes Bringing Home the Birkin so fascinating, because ultimately that's what Tonello's story is about as well -- not the fashion designers themselves, but those who game the fashion system in order to skim a profit off its top, the endless retail employees and eBay resellers and party crashers and blog owners and the rest, all of them taking their own little cuts from the massive amounts of money being exchanged in the middle of it all.

It's a fascinating book that tells a fascinating story, not the best-written thing I've read this year but certainly far from the worst, one of those fabled books about fashion that even non-fashion-lovers can enjoy. View 2 comments. Fashion die-hards, and many others, will be delighted from beginning to end. Apr 08, Lena rated it really liked it Shelves: memoir. Shine my shoes? Maybe it doubled as a parachute…" Tonello had my attention and wouldn't let it go.

He has a nice little business hunting down back stock scarves for his wish-list customers when he gets his first request for a Birkin, the ultimate designer handbag that has a waiting list of two years. Though not written as a how-to manual, Tonello's book showcases the recipe he used to become such a big success in his luxury niche.

Luck, and being in the right place at the right time, clearly had a lot to do with it. I can't say it made me want a Birkin, though. Aug 10, Felicity rated it really liked it. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I assumed it would be poorly written and mildly entertaining if at all.

Instead, it was surprisingly well-written and generally very funny. I read it in five hours on a quiet Saturday afternoon it's definitely a quick read.

The whole story is a little surreal--clearly you need money to make mone I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The whole story is a little surreal--clearly you need money to make money and that's they only reason Tonello's scheme works. Tonello is also not necessarily the world's most charming character. The details of his extravagant dinners and wines border on sickening after a while. It's a little hard to understand how these lavish expenses are so "necessary" to his enterprise when he's dining alone so much.

I love food as much as the next person, but really? But what is so fascinating about this book is its exploration of desire--how it is created and marketed by Hermes , and how the internet--with auction sites such as Ebay--become one giant bazaar in which people can fulfill this desire. I probably haven't done a great job of selling this book to you, but like I said--it's a quick read, it's funny, and a little frightening at the same time!

Apr 29, Paula rated it really liked it Recommends it for: armchair travellers, fashionistas and people who want a funny, light read. Shelves: reads. I have an ARC of this and so far 27 chapters in it's made me giggle at least once per chapter. Some chapters it's been so hilarious I can't help sharing it. It's light, funny, and the story draws you along.


Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag

The end of the world just inched a little nearer: an eBay seller has written a memoir. About handbags. Not just any handbag. Any other Jane who walks in off the street and asks for a Birkin is politely told there is a two-to-three-year waiting list. Weary of traveling the world as a hair and makeup artist for commercials, he decides to move to Barcelona after working on an I. A job magically materializes, then vanishes, and Tonello is stuck in Spain with a five-year lease, no work visa and expensive custom closets he had built to fit his designer clothes. But his father reminds him of his American entrepreneurial pluck, recalling how, as a teenager, Michael made money for his French class trip by selling sandwiches at their country club out of a golf cart.


Bringing Home the Birkin


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