Last year I missed Christmas. In fashion retail we often start playing festive music in late November and spend all our day helping choose gifts for customers’ loved ones. However, because we are so busy, and the only day we get off is Christmas day itself it is too easy to miss those events in the build up to the big day that get you in the Yuletide mood. This was exactly my issue last year, as I worked Christmas eve, sang no carols until midnight mass, then worked Boxing Day so only had a few hours with my family.
This Christmas, in order to avoid becoming Scrooge, I vowed to make some time for those special people in my life. As you saw last week, I booked Sunday off work to visit Santa’s grotto in Kew Gardens with a large chunk of my family. This weekend, one of my former teacher’s at university, Han Yu, came with her husband to stay and go Christmas shopping.
This teacher is Chinese and a serious handbag collector. In the past, she has bought limited edition designer bags, kept them in mint condition, then sold them for a profit so she could buy a car, a Land Rover no less! When she found out I worked at Burberry she was excited to say the least. The fact that she was six months pregnant was not going to stop her buying new handbags.
After warm hugs at St Pancras train station I asked, “So where is it you want to go shopping exactly?”
“LV, Chanel and Burberry. Otherwise, you can be my guide” was the reply. So after some lunch to load us with energy we battled the throngs on the Tube to Green Park to grace Bond Street with Han Yu’s wallet.
This was my first time entering Louis Vuitton and Chanel on Bond Street, my reason being that I could not afford anything nice in there so there was no point in dampening my soul. Han Yu’s visit was a great excuse to cross their thresholds.
As you might expect of a collector and academic researcher, Han Yu had done her research. Within less than a minute an LV associate had clocked her and she had requested to see the Alma bag in various materials and sizes. The function of the purchase was to have an everyday bag, something she could take to uni with her but not carry her folders and laptop in. After some turning in front of the mirror and questioning Han Yu settled on the ‘Alma MM’ in fuchsia epi, classic and classy. The only reason we spent as long as we did in the store was to wait for the associate to find the exact size and colour then wrap it. Then cross the road we did to Chanel…
We were on the hunt for the iconic ‘2.55’, we were not the only ones. Han Yu played with the silver and gold strapped specimens before admitting that the 2.55 would have to wait until next year. She has been yearning for this quilted accessory for quite some time, which in my mind is the true sign that you genuinely desire something, and if possible, should get it. I have no doubt I will be in Chanel this time next year at Han Yu’s side.
Then we found ourselves in the former cinematic auditorium which is now home to Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street. Again, there was no dithering. Han Yu quickly had her phone out requesting to see various bags and scarves. Following a quick gaze into the mirror decisions were made and before 1% had been lost on the sales associate’s iPad Han Yu had two canvas checked bags, a ‘Prorsum’ scarf and a classic scarf wrapped and hanging from the arms of her boo. Missions accomplished.
As a collector of art, stamps, autographs, or anything, you buy a piece not for the kudos but for the appreciation of the craft, history and story behind the creation of the product. Seeing so many shoppers coming in to store still purely to own something which will be recognised by peers not because they like or care for the piece, for me, is depressing. It suggests weak character and lack of sophistication. Han Yu’s reverence, on the other hand, was akin to a butterfly collector waiting patiently for that waiting on that specimen they have only seen in books. In other words, true respect for heritage.
To dinner and the festive migration on Regent Street we had brave…