This is the final step of my attempt to patina my birkin in vache naturelle leather. In my first video of this series I thought that I had finished stripping the outer coating of the leather that was preventing the patina from developing, but as you’ll see in this video, I barely scratched the surface. After this video I’ve continued to oil the leather and the patina is very deep, follow my instagram for recent pictures!
This is the second step of my attempt to patina my birkin in vache naturelle leather. This time I’ve finished stripping the outer coating of the leather and I’m using a combination of Fiebing’s Mink Oil, Blackrock’s Leather N’ Rich, and Leather Honey. Watch below for my progress:
I’m showing you all my process for darkening my birkin in the vache naturelle leather. This is the first video in a series where you can follow me step by step as I attempt to speed up the patina process by striping the leather and then moisturizing with different oils and leather preservers. I’m not entirely sure how the bag will turn out since I’m an amateur at this, but it should be interesting to watch anyway.
In this video I start by striping the leather of it’s mysterious coating which has been preventing my previous oil applications from penetrating the leather. I’m using 100% pure acetone to strip the leather. Watch below:
I used to have a problem with purses.
I still absolutely love them and imagine that I always will, but at my worst, I was acquiring a new purse every month, feeling overwhelmed and guilty, and when I wasn’t spending every minute checking the delivery status of my online order, I was researching my next purchase. Suffice it to say, it was a giant waste of time, energy and money and I’m going to share with you what helped me break that cycle. Maybe this information will help you and although this information is specific to purses, I’m hoping that it can apply to other types of over-consumption of material goods.
1. Identify the why behind the action
This was the most challenging but most crucial step to overcoming my shopping addiction and it is vital that you take the time necessary to uncover and understand your own why. I knew that every addiction had a psychological compulsion to it and if I wanted any chance of changing my behavior, I had to figure out why I felt compelled to continually be in the cycle of obsessing and acquiring purses.
For about a week I didn’t focus on changing my behavior, but instead simply checked in with my emotions before I was engaging in the behavior I wanted to remove and wrote it down in a journal with the date and time.
I found that for the overwhelming majority of the time my primary emotion prior to engaging in the cycle was boredom. And evidently I was bored a lot of the time and purse shopping was my automatic reaction to snapping me out of that uncomfortable state.
2. Make it hard
After I understood that this was an easy distraction that I was getting sucked into, I made it not so easy by blocking all of the sites that I was stalking on my phone and laptop, unsubscribing from marketing emails, unsubscribing and unfollowing people on social media who promoted the type of lifestyle I was trying to eschew, and removing apps such as eBay from my phone. This forced me to get up and find something else to do when boredom hit.
3. Yield temptation
Everyone has certain things they like and that’s what makes us different and interesting. I love purses and I’ve come to accept that. I wasn’t attempting to completely remove them from my life and come out of this a one bag lady. I simply needed to find a more satisfying and sane way to engage with them.
There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde from “The Picture of Dorian Grey” that applies directly to this step, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”
If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I am all about allowing oneself the pleasure of what delights you and curating a life of elegance and style. Resisting and denying are very uncomfortable and exhausting states of mind that can only lead to buckling under the burden and ultimately engaging with what you’ve attempted to resist in a way that is unpleasant and vulgar.
This is why I’ve allowed myself any bag purchase (in cash!) once a year. For me it was important that I give myself full reign to consider any bag I wanted because once I started putting limitations, I could start to feel the temptation beginning to pull me into make a decision that I may later regret. I can’t tell you how many times I would fall in lust with a bag because it was “exclusive” according to someone, purchase it and then turn around and sell it in the space of a couple of months. Giving myself the time to consider my purchase and make the right decision for me and not what is trendy was going to allow me to enjoy my purchase with only joy and excitement.
It’s so freeing to be able to see a beautiful bag and not feel that twinge of temptation gnawing at me. I can feel that admiration and love and then simply let it go either because I know I can eventually have it if I really want it (once a year!) or because I know that just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s for me. Now, when I purchase a handbag the experience is completely rewarding and fulfilling in a way that hundreds of my previous purses never could be. I hope that if you are struggling with a similar issue that some of these tips will help you see yourself out of that.
There’s very few things in the world I love more than purses.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a full obsession with them. Despite my insatiable love for them, I don’t love the prices that come from buying them at retail. It is always much more satisfying to have a designer purse without the designer price. Not only is it more economical, but purchasing pre-loved goods is also environmentally friendly since you’re essentially recycling existing products.
Some of the best deals to get are ones that require a little more patience and elbow grease. I’m going to share my most recent purse rehab with you today: a black Balenciaga Work bag. I’ll show you what the damage was, how I fixed it and a before and after comparison.
I followed the instructions on the box and dyed the corners and the entire bag black. The good thing about repairing a black bag is that the dye is very easy to match. I dyed the bag in the evening and let it sit overnight to make sure it dried. The dye was not overly messy — it seemed to dry within a few minutes of the application, but I left it just to be safe.
While the bag was drying from the dye I started touching up the handles. Again I followed the instructions on the box and let this dry overnight as well. This was probably the most time-consuming part of the process. The consistency is between glue and water so it would set into the crack where the leather met in the handle and I would have to apply more coats on top of it. I used a thin paintbrush to apply the Edge Kote and I lost count of how many coats I applied to get the right thickness, maybe 20 or so coats.
The next day once the Edge Kote and dye were dry I finished the job by applying Leather Honey to the entire bag. It really made a difference in the condition of the leather. It because much more supple and brought richness and depth to the color of the bag. I used a foam brush to apply the thick conditioner. Unlike others I’ve used that are very watery, this conditioner is truly the consistency of honey. Despite the thickness of the conditioner, my bag soaked it right up within a few minutes so I applied three coats all over and let it dry overnight.
The Final Product
The picture on the left is the after and the right is before. The pictures don’t show it very well, but the leather is more supple and moisturized and the color is richer and more pigmented.
Below is a picture that shows the difference better; I did not condition or dye the leather patch that is inside of the front pocket. Compared to the rest of the bag, the leather patch looks drier and faded.
The Edge Kote completely replaced the missing resin. Now the handles are properly protected from any further damage.
The dye worked perfectly on the corners.
The leather tassels often become bent and scraggly with time. I simply conditioned the tassels with the Leather Honey, let them dry overnight and then ironed them straight on the medium setting while protecting them between a hand towel. Worked like a charm!
And that’s it! I paid $275 on this pre-loved Balenciaga and invested about $25 into the leather dye, conditioner and Edge Kote to bring it back to great condition once again. For $300 I found myself a beautiful designer purse, saving a bundle and helping the environment by reusing what was already there. I hope this helped you see how these products work and maybe will encourage you to purchase a purse that you think is far too damaged but just simply needs a little repairing.
Today I thought I would offer a size comparison of the Hermès Ulysse notebooks in the PM & MM sizes. This notebook is nowhere near as popular as the Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook or Moleskine so it was difficult for my to get a sense of the sizes while I was searching through pictures online. The Ulysse notebook does not follow the usual “personal” or “A5″ standards of most agendas which makes it even more difficult to convert sizes as you’re thinking about what may or may not fit inside of it.
Below are pictures of the notebooks side by side to each other and other more commonly known notebooks. I also made a video of the notebooks, click the link in the post to view it. I’ll finish with some quick thoughts about the notebooks themselves.
MM size: 9.1″ tall x 7.5″ wide, retail $765.00
PM size: 6.3″ tall x 5.3” wide, retail $555.00
The MM size is almost exactly the same size as a standard composition notebook. The composition notebook is around 1/2 inch taller, but the width is the same.
The sizes are not easy to pin down, but those pictures should give you a better idea. I also made a youtube video of the sizes if you’d like to see them in action:
Overall, the notebooks have yummy leather and wonderful colors. However, there are two aspects that you should be aware of:
- Flexibility of the leather
- Refills prices
If you’ve used any other agenda like a Filofax, Traveler’s Notebook, Leuchtturm or Moleskine, you will know that you can use the agenda itself to write against since the leather or the cover will offer support. The Ulysse notebooks do not share this in common. This was something that I did not even think to consider until I had already purchased it and realized just how floppy the leather was. In the video I give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. This is not a problem if you are at a desk or another hard surface to prop up the notebook.
Secondly, the refills are very high-quality but also high priced. Here are some prices from the website:
MM plain notebook refill, $65.00
PM lined notebook refill, $75.00
PM Annual agenda refill, $90.00
If you use these agendas as much as I do, this will start to add up. A lot of Ulysse notebook users refill using an alternative that will fit in the same plastic strip. In the video and at the moment for my MM size I am using the Minimalist JournalBook but as I explain the video, the width is not exactly ideal. After I’m finished with the current refill I plan to use the TOPS Sophisticated Business Notebooks since the width is just a bit shorter than the other one. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find an alternative refill for the PM size, so I’ve been purchasing the Hermes ones from the website.
I hope that this helped if you are considering purchasing these notebooks. There are a couple of drawbacks, but overall the leather quality is unparalleled and the colors are stunning so I would recommend purchasing these if you can overlook the refill price.
I’m sorry to say that after reading this eye-opening book that I won’t be able to look at the luxury and fashion industry the same ever again.
Ever since I’ve been taken with purses, I’ve had a suspicion that certain high-end brands with their liberal annual price increases and tasteless limited edition releases were not necessarily in the business of luxury, but rather in the business of making a profit. I know that I am not alone in this perspective; a brief conversation about the topic with any aficionado will bring a similar line of thought.
These suspicions were what drew to me reading this book and with facts, figures, and interviews with owners and designers themselves, Dana Thomas has proven those suspicions to be true.
In an informative and engaging manner, Thomas takes us from Hong Kong to France to South America, into replica sweatshops in Guangzhou to Miuccia Prada’s concrete office in Milan to the vibrant Daslu, a rare and true luxury shopping experience in Brazil. She brings us into the intimate details of the series ruthless and shrewd power moves taken by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, that changed the direction of luxury forever and through this, narrates the demise of the made-to-order, old world luxury companies and the rise of the democratization of luxury.
But all is not lost even in today’s money-driven and fast fashion environment. Thomas shows how luxury still persists in a few brands such as Hermes, Chanel and Louboutin. Most of the book was horrifyingly candid for such a lover of designer goods like me, but I did enjoy the latter parts of the book that allow these wonderful brands to shine and stand against the dizzying avarice of others.
Christian Louboutin explains that “luxury is the possibility to stay close to your customers…about subtlety and details. It’s about service…Luxury is not consumerism. It is educating the eyes to see that special quality.”
Cristiane Saddi, a marketing director in Sao Paolo says that clients who frequent Daslu, a luxury fashion emporium, “don’t need the logo entry-level handbag or to wear labels or logos. We buy from luxury brands, but not ordinary products. You can see what is mass and what is special. Luxury is not how much you can buy. Luxury is the knowledge of how to do it right, how to take the time to understand and choose well. Luxury is buying the right thing.”
I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to truly grasp what luxury means and stop being fooled into throwing money away on mass glamour. It’s not about how much money you have or how much or what you buy. One can be more luxurious than the richest socialite in all the world by understanding quality, selecting timeless pieces, and above all an unpretentious naturalness in one’s surroundings.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Karl Lagerfeld that sums it up quite candidly,
Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress. If you don’t have it, you are not a person used to luxury. You are just a rich person who can buy stuff.