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Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbagby Michael Tonello
Synopses & Reviews
An insider's hilarious, whirlwind account of his years spent globe-trotting in search of the holy grail of handbags: the Birkin.
For more than twenty years, the Hermès Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. Though the bag is often seen dangling from the arms of celebrities, there is a fabled waiting list of more than two years to buy one from Hermès, and the average fashionista has a better chance of climbing Mount Everest in Prada pumps than of possessing one of these coveted carryalls. Unless, of course, she happens to know Michael Tonello . . .
Michael's newfound career started with an impulsive move to Barcelona, a vanished job assignment, no work visa, and an Hermès scarf sold on eBay to generate some quick cash. But soon the resourceful Michael discovered the truth about the waiting list and figured out the secret to getting Hermès to part with one of these precious bags. Millions of dollars worth of Birkins later, Michael had become one of eBay's most successful entrepreneurs — and a Robin Hood to thousands of desperate rich women.
With down-to-earth wit, Michael chronicles the unusual ventures that took him to nearly every continent, from eBay to Paris auction house and into the lives of celebrities and poseurs. Flirting with danger, Michael recounts the heady rush of hand delivering his first big score to famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager in Paris; how he had to hire thugs to rescue a bag that one of his "shoppers" held for ransom; and the story of the Oscar-worthy performances that allowed him to snag "reserved" bags from other, less dogged Birkinseekers.
Whether he's relating his wining and dining, buying and selling, dodging and weaving, laughing and crying, or schmoozing and stammering, Michael is a master raconteur who weaves together tales of hunting Birkins in the world's most posh locales, memories of meals that would make any gastronome salivate, anecdotes of obsessed collectors with insatiable desires, and sweetly intimate stories about his family, friends, and finding true love. The result is a memoir that is distinctive, fun, page-turning, and as addictive as its namesake.
"In a funny, whip-smart memoir sure to be a sensation among Vogue and W devotees, erstwhile hair and makeup artist Tonello (now a columnist for HuffingtonPost.com) chronicles a surprising (even to him!) trans-Atlantic move from Provincetown, R.I. to a city he'd fallen in love with on a short trip: Barcelona, where he knows no one and doesn't speak the language. Tonello's initial euphoria dissolves when his new job fails to materialize. To stay afloat, Tonello starts selling items on Ebay with startling results: his first, heart-racing success, a year-old $99 Polo scarf he sold for $430 to a Midwesterner ('I guess he really liked plaid') makes Tonello an instant believer in the resale capabilities of high-end luxury items. Thus his new trade, and his quest for the Birkin, the 'it bag' of all time, famous for its impenetrable waiting list ('What do you mean the waiting list is closed? It's a waiting list. So I can't wait?'). After many failed attempts, Tonello plans a weekend drive to Madrid in search of the haute couture holy grail; the result is a both a hilarious raid on fashion's strongholds and a memoir that satisfies like a novel. Fashion die-hards, and many others, will be delighted from beginning to end." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]he memoir reads as much like a breezy travelogue as a business story....Mr. Tonello comes off as the fantasy gay best friend immortalized in contemporary women's fiction: sassy, plucky, optimistic — oh, and he can get you a Birkin." Wall Street Journal
"[Tonello] reveals the key to scoring that Holy Grail of handbags in a clever memoir." Boston Herald
"Fascinating....The sassy and resourceful Tonello built a very lucrative eBay resale business from his apartment, specializing in Hermès scarves and the French luxury purveyor's highly desired Birkin bag. It's hard not to be swept up in his delightful one-man Birkin Brigades." Minneapolis Star Tribune
About the Author
Originally from Massachusetts, Michael Tonello traveled the world as a makeup artist and hairdresser before resettling in Spain to become an eBay luxury reseller of all things Hermès. He resides in Barcelona with his partner, Juan.
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