Almost a year ago, in December, I was walking down Saint-Germain-Des-Prés with Sophie when we stumbled upon this tiny little shop on the rue Guisarde, stuffed from floor to ceiling with vintage treasures all initialed Hermès or Chanel.
“Come on, I gotta show you this Hermès wallet that I just love,” Sophie says to me.
“Naaahhhh, this shop’s a little too snobby. Not my thing. No seriously, no. Ok. Fine fine. Show me your little wallet and we’ll be off. Two minutes.”
Once I got inside, I couldn’t stop looking at the Kelly bags on the top shelves… It took me a while to get into the Kelly. It’s a bag fit only for a real dame. But for a little bit now, I’ve been looking at it in a different way. I’m starting to appreciate its strict and austere form, so extremely chic. And somewhere in me knew that someday, someday when I grow up or something, I’d buy one.
A vintage Kelly, already soften by another woman before me.
Right at that moment I see one, in the most sublime red that makes my heart palpate. But no part of me is thinking about buying it.
Enchanted by the wonders we just touched, off we went.
“I can’t believe it! They were so nice! It’s gotta be because people know you Sophie. I’m sure that’s why.”
Two weeks later, traveling to the ends of the earth, I had to fess up to something: I was thinking about the red Kelly every day. The kind of thing that never really happens to me… An obsession with an accessory like that.
“Hold on,” I thought having breakfast at my hotel in the morning. “Why didn’t it even cross my mind to buy it?”
A Kelly is expensive. Yeah, even really expensive but my agent just signed me one of the best contracts of my life. And I work a lot and hard. And I’m in the middle of going through a diffcult time.. Maybe for once, I could do something extravagant.
But it’s super fragile. And it’s just such a bag for a real woman. Nope. Not for me. Not. For. Me.
It’s almost Christmas. I’m still traveling and I’m still thinking about the Kelly. This whole thing starts to really bug me. It’s so dumb to obsess over an object like that. And all that said, it’s so pretty I bet it was sold a long time ago.
Fine fine, when I get back to Paris for Christmas, if it’s still there, I’ll do it : I’ll buy it.
Christmas finally arrives. I walk down Saint-Germain-Des-Prés bundled up in my parka straight to the boutique. Time to get it over with.
I open the doors to 3 Marches and I am welcomed with a nice warm hello. I take a glance up to the top shelf and nope, oooh… No red Kelly. Of course not. A month of obsessing for nothing.
I don’t know if I am relieved or disappointed… But just to be sure, I ask:
“You used to have a bright red Kelly…?
“Aaaaah! The rouge garance? Yes… It’s not there anymore. I pulled it from the floor.”
“Wait… The rouge what?”
“The “rouge garance”!!! It’s amazing! It’s a very special nuanced red. They don’t make them anymore like this! Ok, wait here. I’m gonna go take a look.”
The Kelly… !!! The Kelly has my name. You can imagine that at that moment, all doubt was gone. That bag is mine.
She comes out of the back room, my bag in hand, “You know, I’ve had this one for a long time. To tell you the truth, I never really wanted to sell it. I’ve been hiding it a little… It’s especially precious to me.”
We start to talk some. Catherine B is her name. She makes us some tea and tells me about her passion for Kellys, for Hermès, for her work which she just loves. I wonder why I had wrong ideas about this shop. So I ask her, because why not? She has no idea I work in fashion and no idea that I’m going to buy her bag. She says to me,
“Oh, I am what I am. I have character. But you know, I love what I do and I have lots of loyal customers…”
We spend the sweetest little moment together – and after an hour I asked her to sell it to me because actually, I tell her, this bag shares my name and so it was of course made just for me. She laughs and then confesses, “You know, the story is that this bag was mine back in the day. I walked around with it. But I’m so happy to sell it to you.”
That same night, I tell Scott about my purchase with violins in my voice. He sounds super disappointed : He knew about the bag and secretly wanted to buy it for me for Christmas.
But I’m so glad I bought it myself. It was my gift to myself. It’s my own private souvenir. No one can take that away from me.
It’s my first little craziness as an adult woman. A “real” woman. It’s bright, maybe a little too shiny, like a Ferrari, but it marks a moment in my life. It reminds me of the first car that my mom bought for herself after a professional success, a car that really made quite the vrooooom and went super fast and made her cheeks go all rosy (yeah, after getting very close to three accidents, she had to give the super fast car back and get the normal one, but there’s no chance of that happening with my Kelly. I’ve never had much of a need for speed.).
You know what? I actually don’t wear my Kelly much. But I always do keep it in my eyesight. And as time goes on, I just find it more and more beautiful.
I’m happy to have given myself the opportunity for a little extravagance at this time in my life. Kind of… Like a tattoo, you know what I mean?
Just as frivolous as it is essential.
Translation : Tim Sullivan