Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag

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9780061473333: Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag

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 Birkin seekers.

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.

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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.

Review:

“Funny, whip-smart. . . . 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))

“The one-step, one-stop shop guide to buying a Birkin.” (Huffington Post)

“The one-step, one-stop shop guide to buying a Birkin.” (Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post)

“ [Tonello] reveals the key to scoring that Holy Grail of handbags in a clever memoir.” (Boston Herald)

“In his peppy, addictive memoir . . . [Tonello] details the comical lengths to which he’s gone to snag hundreds of Birkins that he then sells (with a steep mark-up) on eBay.” (moderntonic.com)

“The perfect, fluffy and fun beach read.” (glamour.com)

“A witty and engaging retrospective on [Tonello’s] long career traipsing the globe as a purveyor of the Birkin bag.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“[A] sunny memoir. . . . The prose is vivid, the tone lighthearted. 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)

“[A] memoir of . . . madcap travels, triumphs and humiliations. [Tonello] peels back the layers of pretension at the eminent design house. . . . Anyone who’s ever stepped into a luxury boutique and felt the sting of the doorman’s disapproval will find a hero in Tonello.” (Miami Herald)

“Tonello recounts the strange and serendipitous tale of how he went from cleaning out his closet to being one of the busiest Internet resellers of Birkin bags in the world.” (The Globe and Mail)

Boston Globe bestseller (No Source)

“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)

“A deliciously addictive true tale of continent-hopping, celebrity-schmoozing, and a crazy-like-a-fox quest for that Hermès “it” bag, the Birkin. Haute read, indeed.” (straight.com)

“This summer’s most adorable chick-lit book. . . . It’s smart. It’s fizzy. It’s amusingly snarky, with attitude to burn. ” (New York Times)

“Part comedy, part history, part treasure hunt, Michael Tonello’s memoir is a romping sociological inquiry. If you’re like me, you’ll be transfixed and wanting more!” (Tim Gunn)

“Hermès’ worst nightmare.” (New York Daily News)

“I devoured, and adored Bringing Home the Birkin, the story of how one man turned the fashionable set’s obsession with Hermès’ signature handbag into a handsome, globe-trotting career.” (Jennifer Weiner, Author of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes)

“A deliciously quick nonfiction read.” (Charlotte Observer)

“Funny, thrilling, chock-full of great cocktail-party stories told with the flair of a natural raconteur.” ("The Year in Books 2008," Chicago Center for Literature and Photography)

“The fashion world is about to be handed its own Da Vinci Code with Bringing Home the Birkin.” (Maclean's)

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Michael Tonello
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