Monday, October 27, 2008

The Gift of Thrift: Hoochie Coochie!

Nothing speaks luxe better than a signature orange Hermès shopping tote straight from 24 rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in Paris …you know the one elegantly stamped with the iconic jaunty horse and carriage that is usually reserved for waitlisted Kelly bags or chic equestrian themed silk scarves. To my delight, I spotted one of these eye-catching shopping bags a couple of months ago, tossed mercilessly into the recycling bin of my building. Who could have done such a wicked thing to such an elite bag? (Well, I know who, but the former owner is far from evil and is a neighbor!) I snapped up my deep citrus-hued discovery and whisked it across the hall to my apartment where it would wait for a respected incarnation. I might even carry it myself, since anything looks instantly more intriguing packed up in an Hermès shopping bag!

It sat carefully folded in my kitchen with other vintage shopping bags – event Bloomingdale’s bags from the 1980s and one from the now shuttered Fifth Avenue luxury emporium Bonwit Teller – until the other day when I met up with Allison Hemming, an old and trusted friend who is the founder of the creative talent agency, The Hired Guns ( Allison was flipping through the dummy pages of my book, The Find, and graciously sharing ideas for promoting it when I led her to The Object of My Desire to show her a recent entry about a jazzy party in Brooklyn with a prohibition undertone that inspired me to make a glamorous “hooch” bag for my friend Heather. “I want a ‘hooch’ bag!” Allison exclaimed.

An image of the ultimate “hooch” bag appeared in my mind, and it was awaiting me at home in my kitchen. For its contents, I was sure that a quick thrifting spin would fit the bill. My first stop was at Housing Works in the West Village where I found a faux croc mini bag in vinyl that made no claims at being Hermès verité. I loaded it with fake “mad” money, topped it off with travel-sized bottles of booze and made a gift card out of an old postcard I bought at a flea market at the Spancirfest festival in Varazdin, Croatia, this last summer. I attached the repurposed postcard to the golden buckled closure with black raffia. I nestled the whole creation in the Hermès bag among layers of shimmery tissue paper and more faux dough. After having sealed the bag securely shut with cellophane tape (You never know what could be in an Hermès loaded with cash, albeit fake, so I didn’t want to tempt any messenger!), I attached an address label made from a postcard I bought at the Marie Antoinette exhibit in Paris last May.

Allison, à ta santé! Et à bientôt!

Tomorrow’s my birthday, so if anyone wants to send me a big wad of cash stashed into a fancy shopping bag, leave me a note and I’ll send you delivery instructions.

In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.


Anonymous said...

Allison Here!

As the recipient of a custom Hooch Bag...let's just say, "There is much love for the Hooch bag." Afterall, what hard working gal couldn't use a great looking vintage handbag filled with an emergency libation or seven!

And, I have to admit that packaging the handbag in dollar, dollar bills (yeah) and placing it in the ever-striking Hermes bag offered the perfect finishing touch. It arrived to a crescendo of "ooohs" and "aaaahs" -- with the crowning moment coming when a co-worker cooed, "Is that the new Hermes bag!?" Nice work, Mr. Williams!

Life As g said...

So let me get this straight: all I need to do is exclaim, "I want a hooch bag!!" and one will appear?!

Is that how this works? I want a Stan Williams original!