Friday, September 21, 2007

The Bag and the Lady

She's exactly 5 feet tall in striped Ferragamo slippers and Ralph Lauren jeans (she has the hips and waist professionally tailored but she cuts the cuffs off herself and leaves them raw and bedraggled.) What's left of her hair is Vivienne Westwood red.

Her name is G-- and she's quite possibly one of the most fascinating women on the planet. Born 76 years ago in Tasmania she went to boarding school in London and

Switzerland, reputedly took Dali AND Chagall as her lovers, became an art collector, moved to Hawaii, ran a nightclub and a private art gallery. When she retired and moved to Austin she opened up a small shop, which she keeps booby trapped in the most delightful way.

See, she puts out bits of real treasure here and there and uses them to test a potential customer's eye. Spot the exquisite Victorian mourning cameo half-hidden among the handful of pretty but ordinary 1940's ones or the lone Schiaperelli along a wall of other, lesser hats and you instantly become part of her circle. You become someone "who knows" and that is where the fun begins.

When I walked in last night, all I wanted was a pair of earrings.

The dress I was wearing didn't work without them and I didn't feel like going home before traipsing up to The Domain for the unending tedium of an obligatory but all-but-soul crushing boutique crawl.

I found a pair of earrings --freshwater pearl dangles-- and a fun but inexpensive watersnake clutch where the skins faded from dark red to smoky-gray in a very Prada F/W07 sort of way. I was just ready to have her ring me up when I spot what looked like the corner of a 1940's alligator purse poking out from a display behind the counter.

I asked her about it.

Her face lit up. As she revealed it to me, my face did the same. I'd found the biggest easter egg of them all a flawless --and I mean flawless-- alligator handbag. It wasn't Hermes, but it was close and the quality was almost as fine. I have never seen a vintage alligator bag in such pristine condition.

We talked for the next 2 hours. Her romances with various artists, our mutual adoration for Galliano, the blessing and curse of being born with "an eye", and what exactly was wrong with the dress I was wearing.

By the time we'd finished chatting she had knocked several hundred dollars off the alligator, comped the watersnake, the earrings AND the Schiaperelli and promised me a private viewing of her personal collection of art and jewelry.

I'm excited and honored to see her jewelry, but I *can't wait* to hear about Chagall.


Blogger Pink Shoes said...

What a great story!

4:15 PM  

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