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21 Ultimate Gifts: Baggage Acclaim

Jill Newman

THE GIFT
A custom eight-piece luggage set handcrafted by One Hermès craftsman in Paris.

Consultation with a specialist from Hermès to create a bespoke suit, topcoat, shoes, and leather and knit accessories, all of which will be made to the recipient’s specifications.

A Private tour of the Hermès leather atelier in Paris for the recipient and a guest.

STARTING AT $215,000

Although Hermès is best known for its Kelly and Birkin signature handbags (the waiting lists for which are usually backlogged several years), the French fashion house actually began in 1837 as a harness maker; it later began producing handmade leather accessories and furnishings for a mostly male clientele. Soon the company will renew its commitment to its earlier constituency with the February 2010 opening of Hermès’ first dedicated men’s store, which will occupy sizable retail space on New York’s Madison Avenue.

This gift celebrates everything that Hermès offers the well-heeled male. At the new 6,000-square-foot store, the recipient will meet with a leather specialist to design and customize an eight-piece set of luggage, which will be created by one Hermès craftsman. He will then consult with a specialist to create a bespoke head-to-toe ensemble. Finally, he will have the option of traveling with a guest to Paris for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hermès leather workshop.

Behind the doors of this atelier, the master artisans of Hermès have conceived and crafted some of the world’s most extravagant leather goods—many of them for fastidious clients who ask that their briefcases, toiletry cases, and suitcases be modified to meet their needs. In 1929, for instance, they introduced a leather suitcase perfectly proportioned to fit into the trunk of Ettore Bugatti’s own automobile. Another request was Sammy Davis Jr.’s 1957 order for a discreet, black-crocodile suitcase that concealed a small bar complete with a serving tray, a set of cups, and ashtrays—all hand-engraved with his initials—as well as five slots individually measured to accommodate bottles of his favorite spirits. More recently, Hermès received a commission for a lightweight sea chest made of leather and carbon fiber and equipped with space for clothes, a travel desk with a microcomputer, a small flat-screen TV, and a CD player.

The recipient of this gift can choose from ?more than 30 leathers, including crocodile, alligator, ostrich, and lizard. The leather can be dyed ?in any of roughly 300 shades. Each hand-sewn piece is made from start to finish by one craftsman who signs and dates his work so that the luggage can be returned to its creator when refurbishment is required.

To fill the luggage, the recipient will meet with a specialist from Hermès, who will assess his wardrobe and help him select fabrics, color schemes, and clothing styles. Three fittings are needed for a bespoke suit; after each fitting, the garments are returned to the Parisian workshop to make the necessary adjustments. The specialist will also assist in choosing leather and knitwear accessories. The fashion house’s upcoming knit service for the menswear collection will enable clients to customize their knitwear by specifying not only the style and color of each item, but also the yarns from which it is woven.

Hermès, 212.835.6444, www.hermes.com

The gift offer is valid from December 2009 through December 2010. The bespoke clothing takes approximately 10 weeks from inception to completion, though unusual requests may require additional time. Some luggage items may require up to a year to complete. The gift’s final price will depend on the choice of materials and design.

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