Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hermès and LVMH at each others’ throats? C’est dommage.

I have to admit that when I read that there’s a spot of bad blood between Hermès  – they of the $500 silk scarf – and LVMH – to which we owe thanks for the very existence of many a $5000 pocket book* -  I wanted to pop a bottle of bubbly (Moët, of course). There is, sans doute, a somewhat thrilling element when the luxury folks go at it that’s just so not there if the squabble is between, say, Timex and Wranglers.

The trouble began when LVMH acquired a stake in Hermès which Hermès was none too happy about. (I was going to say that LVMH scarfed down part of Hermes, but that would be a really bad pun. So I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.) And now Hermès  has made a claim that LVMH was doing something shady – insider trading, share manipulation – to have their way in building their stake. (LVMH owns a bit more than 20% of Hermès .) (Source: Washington Post.)

Since I have no affiliation at all to either brand, I can’t say that I really care one way or the other how this contretemps plays out.

It did, however, get me thinking about the teeny-weeny relationship I do have with each brand.

Many years ago, my husband and I were dining in a neighborhood restaurant and ordered a bottle of Moët Chandon, which was, more or less, the “house champagne”, and at that time probably cost about $25 or $30 in a restaurant. Anyway, when they brought it out, we half looked at it, saw that the bottle said Moët, and proceeded to enjoy it.

A few days later, we were in a liquor store and I noticed a familiar bottle of wine.

‘Hey,’ I said to my husband, ‘That’s the wine we had the other day at The Charles.’

He agreed that the label did, in fact, look like the wine we’d been served.

Only this bottle was Dom Perignon – an LVMH brand - and the liquor store price was over $100.

Next time we ate at The Charles (no longer in business under that incarnation and name, but still our neighborhood go-to), the owner (somewhat snottily) informed us that we’d had a nice “treat” the other night in that they’d mistakenly given us an expensive bottle of champers and charged us for a cheaper one.

Given that we at there at least once a week, you’d have thought that he would have said something along the lines of ‘since you’re such good customers, we wanted you to have a nice thank-you bottle of wine, but forgot to tell you at the time.’ Rather than imply that we should have offered to pay the difference. (We might have been willing to do so if we’d realized that we were getting something special and perceived a vast qualitative difference between DP and our usual. But we weren’t aware that we were drinking anything other than what we’d ordered.)

If I ever have Dom again, I do hope I know enough to enjoy it.

Anyway, my other “interaction”, as it were, with LVMH is on the LV side of the house.

A few years back, while we were vacationing in Paris, our nieces – then 11 and 12 – asked if we could “shop” at the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs Élysées.

Oh, why not, I thought. It’s Sunday afternoon. The place will be crawling with gawkers. Maybe the girls can afford a keychain or something.

I believe those key chains cost about $300.

We ended up doing our shopping at a souvenir shop near the Louvre.

Who actually needs a $300 keychain, anyway?

As for Hermès, I am a scarf wearer. I have plenty of them and wear them pretty much every day. Even in summer, I will carry one with me to drape over my shoulders if I’m going to be in an AC’d environment.  My scarves range from polyester cheapos, through cotton, to challis, to hand woven, to very nice silk.

But none of them are from Hermès.

Even if I had $500 that I was willing to spend on a scarf, I don’t actually like most of the Hermès designs.

Maybe if I were part of the horsey set, I’d like them better.

Sure, some of them are quite beautiful, but far too many of them seem to feature stirrups which, quite frankly, I associate more with a visit to the GYN than I do with donning a pink velveteen jacket, a pair of jodhpurs, and riding to the hounds.

But I did almost have one in my possession.

Many years ago – which, apparently, is when many things happened, the older you get – a colleague returned from a business trip and handed me a scarf which he’d found in his hotel room.

Why he hadn’t just left it there, or handed it in at the front desk, I don’t recall.

Anyhow, he had brought it home and decided that, as the office scarf lady, I was the logical recipient of it.

I will say that the silk was quite beautiful, heavy and lush. Those silkworms must have been supping on organic mulberry leaves or something.

But the pattern was an incredibly ugly gold and blue stirrup thang. (Not to mention that scarf was impregnated with some ghastly – but no doubt expensive – perfume.)

It went in the donation bag…

So much for me and my Hermès.

Little did I know that, according to the Hermès site, some scarves are, “good enough to eat.”

Good enough to eat off of, maybe, if you’re having a picnic and you’ve got a bottle of Dom. But good enough to eat?

Maybe the rich are, indeed, different from you and me….


*Not that Hermès is any slouch in the pocket book category, either. I stopped  by their online store and randomly selected a “unisex shoulder bag [made of] taupe clemence bullcalf” that retails for $7,300.

No comments: