When I worked on the fragrance counter in Boots at the tender age of 15, I distinctly remember one chap asking for "Channel and Yvee Saint Laurent" to test. He ended up buying Charlie, one of the best-selling fragrances of the 1980's at a fraction of the price. That was my first exposure to luxury brands (not the Charlie bit).
These days, I quite like luxury brands but I'm fussy. I no longer want Louboutin shoes at any price having seen a succession of people I don't want to look like wearing them. However I do lust after a Chanel bag and am working out several ways to get one without paying the going rate.
Chanel Vintage often appears on BrandAlley and SecretSale, but are gone within minutes. You don't stand a chance of snagging one but there are other sites where they hang around a bit longer. Try www.vintageheirloom.com or www.lxrco.com where the bags give you a chance to make an informed decision. Both were recommended to me by Jane Cunningham at www.britishbeautyblogger.com who has forgotten more about Chanel than I'll ever know. However, I still struggle to bring myself to buy a second hand bag at that price. I want a new one with at least 50% off!
CHANEL BAG SALE
There is a whispered, hallowed event that takes place every so often when top journalists and influencers are invited to a Chanel bag sale. It's impossible for someone like me to get on the list - I need more of you to follow the blog (more than 4, anyway). However, even once you're on the list, queueing for hours in the cold (I hear that the top hotels have banned the sales from their rooms as they think the queues not appropriate for their image), you have to pick from what's there. Now, that may be brilliant, but it may not be quite right and you'll still be paying a lot of money.
This lovely glossy terminal has a Chanel shop and this is where a colleague suggested I try my luck. Her theory is that you get the VAT back by taking your bag of the country. Not an insignificant amount on a Chanel bag. However, research shows this is fine for her, with a mother living abroad who visits, purchases and then gives the bag to her daughter when she gets out to the Far East. This is not fine for the rest of us as you have to be able to prove you will be out of the UK for 12 months, if not, goods will be confiscated - not really the point, so this is won't work either.
No, not an option at all. Illegal and completely against the point of owning a luxury brand. It isn't just the logo, it's the quality of the product that I want to experience.
THE REAL DEAL
So, I visited the Bond Street store, the new Chanel shop which is the biggest in Europe. I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised at how charming the staff were and keen to explain what we were looking at - not the products, the store design. The Murano glass sculpture which represents Chanel's pearls, the upstairs showroom that replicates her Paris apartment lounge, the couture items loaned from recent catwalk shows & the symbolism in them. It was very pleasant and no, I wasn't buying, I was just nosing around and they were charming about it.
No, there's only one thing to do, hope that someday I can afford this type of spend and then make a day of it. Pretend I've no idea which bag I want & spend at least an hour choosing, get it wrapped and then go for a fantastic lunch. One thing I will do though, is keep the receipt - the market in second hand Chanel bags is fantastic.