Calling Clutches

Ambria explains how to spot a real designer bag and why the Birkin Bash was such as success.

This episode was definitely interesting. Wilson consigning that gold dress was cute to watch; he has such a sweet way of being a diva! He negotiated well for his first time. It's hard to know how much to sell items that are not from a popular label. If you go too low, you can lose the consignor and if you price too high, no one will buy it. I am working with him now and think he will learn a lot working with all the different people that come in to the store and also all of the different labels he will get to see.

Tara's a far better sport than I am. She handled that girl who brought in that leather Gucci like an absolute pro. I can get a little hot under the collar when someone brings in something like that, I fall in love, envision a huge sale for the store and then the girl says, "You know what, I wanna take this home!" Soooo annoying. I was in love with the luxurious leather and the custom cut which is the reason Gucci has the reputation it has. I hope that girl is really wearing it and loving it and it's not just sitting in her closet!

I have always loved Hermes, the brand itself. The quality and craftsmanship of the leather goods are really unparalleled. The Birkin is the crown jewel of any socialite's wardrobe. The story of how it was created based on Jane Birkin's infamous plane flight is definitely one to look up if you don't know it (Editor's note: Jane was seated next to an Hermes executive on a plane, and bemoaned her inability to find the perfect leather weekend bag). The brand's luxurious leathers, luscious colors, sexy hardware and then of course, an exquisite price tag, keeps the Birkins extremely exclusive. Only a small group of women in the world get to enjoy them. What happens though, is that they get sick of the same one after time. So what better way to switch up their Birkin collection than over champagne, and with a super-chic, best-selling book author and bag authenticator?

My Birkin party was the success it was because of Michael Tonnello and Karina. Between an expert in Hermes Birkin bags and an expert on the Upper East Side ladies, it went smoother than I could have hoped for. Usually I do a gathering of no more than three or four ladies, but this time we had about nine women and about five of them brought more than two bags. It doesn't sound like that many, but when you deal with all of the drama that surrounds sales and swaps of these thousand dollar bags, it can be tense. I was sweating while we were setting up, but you didn't get to see that. Karina was the calming factor, and that involved her making me down a few glasses of champagne. Ursula is my absolute favorite consignor (the lady who sold her sandstone Birkin to Jennifer). She always brings in the best ready-to-wear from current collections. When I asked her if she had a Birkin or two to sell, she asked where, when and what time.

I was nervous that Jane would be mad when I told her that her bag was faux, but it turns out she had spent $1,000 on it because it was an excellent fake bag. I was relieved it wouldn't cause a scene, but I have to admit, I was a little upset that she brought the fake on purpose. I would never want to sell a fake bag to a client of mine! Something similar happened once before to a client I care very much about and I felt absolutely horrible. That's precisely why I needed Michael there.

The great thing about this show is how much you all will learn about handbag authentication. Once you see more than three or four professional fakes, you will know exactly what to look for. I hope everyone who watches this show becomes knowledgeable about how to determine what is real. How a bag stands (unlike Jane's, which was falling over), the hardware, the label, the stitching and construction -- all of these are key ingredients to authenticating bags. It is important because handbags are our calling cards as women. Maybe not a Birkin (yet!) -– but any designer bag you are shelling out more than $300 for, you want to know it's authentic. Buying resale creates skepticism, as well it should. But at Second Time Around, we do our absolute best to protect our customers from the fake market.

Maybe on Season 2 we will go to Paris for a MAJOR Birkin Bash. Are you guys down?

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What The Water Gave Me

Ambria discusses the team's work with Generosity Water and how proud she is of Tara's progress.

I loved going to Kelly Killoren Bensimon's closet. Aside from Keni Valenti and Eva Lorenzotti's closets, Kelly's was my definite favorite. Handbags, shoes, dresses, suits, an entire Missoni shelf. . .seriously? I aspire to have that closet. On top of the clothing, the bags, the ridiculous apartment and Kelly's down-to-earth friendliness was her charitable demeanor. She knows she has been fortunate, and she makes it a point to give back in her life, which is such an admirable quality. Generosity Water is her pet charity, and I see why. You see the direct results of the funds you send, which is not always the case with charities.

I have always wanted to get involved with charities but I've never been in a position to do so. Working at Second Time Around gives me opportunities to be around clientele who have plenty of clothing and plenty of money. Linking Generosity Water with our clients to build a well in Haiti was finally my opportunity to be a hands-on part of something extremely beneficial. I knew being the one to auction everything would be a challenge -- I've never done that before in my life! I figured because I knew a lot of the women, and we had those amazing items from Peter Som, Kelly Bensimon, Rachel Roy, and Alexa Ray Joel it would be a walk in the park. I was secretly hoping to raise enough money for two or three wells. I was totally wrong. These women did not come ready to give their money away. . It was a real fight to even get a paddle raised. Luckily Wilson came to my rescue with that deep, masculine voice that commanded those women a bit more than mine. Wilson has such positive energy and he definitely added a richer dimension to the party.

Persistence pays off, though, and after a few glasses of champagne the women began bidding. It wasn't the triumphant, over-the-top success I had wanted, but that one well does give water to a thousand people. So I guess I'll just give us four a congratulations for getting that far. Water is something that we take for granted; I can't imagine taking a sip of water and worrying that it's contaminated. This was by far the most rewarding thing I've done in a long time.

I was soooo hoping that Colin's bracelet actually belonged to Coco Chanel. Obviously Coco was one of the most influential women in fashion, so I got really excited. It was a let down to find out it wasn't. Visiting the Elle accessories closet was a nice little band-aid. You didn't even really get to see how much stuff was actually in there! I only wished Karina could have been there to fulfill her fantasy of accessories.

I am proud of Tara for sharing about her alcoholism. Everyone has different past experiences which leads them into certain circumstances they would rather not have to deal with it; I definitely have my own. It hasn't always been easy to watch her go through the motions at work. It's the type of situation that there is nothing you can do but be supportive. She has handled herself with dignity and grace, and I believe her sharing is quite inspirational for others who have similar demons.

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