Words of Wisdom
HERE ARE THREE FUNDAMENTAL GUIDELINES TO ACHIEVING YOUR IDEAL HANDBAG COLLECTION
By Barbara Stone Conn
Buy what you love, follow your heart, and sell what you no longer need in your life.
These are the words we share each day when asked about curating a handbag collection. It’s a simple premise based on a sophisticated principle, yet there are infinite variables to each person’s story – creating distinction, personality and value in every collection.
Whether starting with the practical purchase of a traditional black Calf Box Hermès Kelly or acquiring a noted investment piece such as an Hermès Matte Himalayan Crocodile Birkin, a handbag collection should be as personal and individual as its devoted owner.
Principle 1: Buy What You Love
When the color pink is your absolute signature, it is easy to establish the foundation for a collection. And, with a multitude of hues from Hermès, the next step calls for classifying the purpose of each piece. This is where the real fun begins.
Buying what you love often originates with a primary handbag to carry throughout the day, and in the case of one devotee of pink, a fabulous Hermès Rose Lipstick 35cm Birkin was the answer. Continuing the collection calls for a modern Matte Bois de Rose Crocodile Kelly Cut clutch to take to dinner, while also layering in a Rose Tyrien Hermès Constance, versatile enough to be worn for any occasion. Of course, including a dramatic investment piece that adds value and longevity is a must, such as the 35cm Matte Pink 5P Alligator Birkin, truly among the rare and legendary. There are also accessories to consider, from corresponding Alligator Collier de Chien bracelets to leather charms and Hermès watches; the selections are boundless, which leads to…
Principle 2: Follow Your Heart
When a collector shares a stirring story of how a handbag was acquired or carried, it is easy to deduce that the particular piece, regardless of price, is meaningful to the collection. We often advise building around the poignant piece, which effortlessly leads to the next acquisition.
Collectors know how they feel and often have a subsequent selection in mind, requesting that we privately source the desired bag. This truly exemplifies Heritage Auctions’ industry-leading reputation and adds to the company’s professional responsibility in securing the elusive and exceptional for the world’s top collectors, busy stylists and individual inquirers. Having access to the most incredible handbags in the world allows Heritage to realize these special and meaningful requests.
Every so often, your heart changes and what was once of great importance is relegated to the back of the closet, which leads to Principle 3.
Principle 3: Sell What You Don’t Need
No matter how magnificent, if it never gets carried or there is not an attachment, it is definitely time to sell. Perhaps you have moved full time from New York to Palm Beach and no longer have need for the autumnal colors from which your collection was curated. Selling to amend your collection to include brighter shades is insightful and efficient, leading you right back to Principle 1.
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, especially when you are buying what you love. When we check in on our “pink lady” and peek inside her tightly edited East Coast closet, what we witness is not surprising. In addition to the array of Hermès, it also reveals a medley of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and vintage Judith Leiber, all with one very important pastel detail in common. This collector certainly buys what she loves!
BARBARA STONE CONN is consignment director for luxury accessories at Heritage Auctions in Chicago.