Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags

The trial of a large traffic of fake Hermes by organized gangs between 2013 and 2014, several of which are former workers for Hermès, will take place in Paris on June 24, 2020. (AFP/Stephanie De Sakutin)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags

  • An inquiry uncovered a clandestine operation in which the suspects at their homes allegedly crafted dozens of counterfeit “Birkin” bags
  • Ten people went on trial this week, including seven former Hermes employees

PARIS: Paris prosecutors sought prison terms Friday for the leaders of a ring accused of making and selling fake handbags from iconic French luxury house Hermes, including some former employees.
The network, which targeted Asian tourists in Paris but also clients in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014, was uncovered when French police wiretapped the home of a man suspected of selling stolen handbags in Asia.
An inquiry uncovered a clandestine operation in which the suspects at their homes allegedly crafted dozens of counterfeit “Birkin” bags, the most coveted — and profitable — item produced by Hermes.
Named for French-British actress Jane Birkin, the bags have long waiting lists for customers ready to pay 40,000 euros ($45,000) or more for versions made with crocodile skin.
Ten people went on trial this week, including seven former Hermes employees.
Prosecutors said they took in around two million euros a year by selling the fakes for 20,000 euros to 30,000 euros each.
The Hermes workers would make the bags with crocodile skins from an Italian supplier, using zippers and other components smuggled out of Hermes workshops.
A woman now aged 52, born in Cambodia but living in France since 1980, was tasked with selling the fake bags as well as genuine “Birkins” resold to clients at a markup.
She told investigators her clients knew that they were buying fakes, the court heard this week.
One of the employees, accused of orchestrating the counterfeiting ring, was just 18 when he began working at Hermes.
“At the time, I didn’t realize the seriousness of this,” the now 45-year-old told the court.
As the trial wound up Friday, prosecutors sought prison terms of up to four years and fines of 100,000 euros to 200,000 euros for the three ringleaders, and suspended sentences and fines for the others.
Hermes lawyers have also asked for two million euros in damages. The court is expected to announce a date for its ruling later Friday.


Kate Beckinsale matches Georges Chakra gown with custom mask

Updated 29 September 2020

Kate Beckinsale matches Georges Chakra gown with custom mask

DUBAI: Actors, models and socialites brought their fashion A-game to this year’s Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health in Monaco this week. 

Hosted by the Monégasque Royal Family, Prince Albert II and his glamorous wife, Princess Charlene, the event brought together a host of A-listers on the terraces of the Opera Monaco to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems for the future of humanity.

Among the guests in attendance was British actress and model Kate Beckinsale, who turned heads wearing a gown from Beirut-based designer Georges Chakra. The white gown, which was plucked from the designer’s Fall 2019 couture collection, featured a one-shoulder cut with an asymmetric cape, as well as dazzling gold embellishment. 

The British actress wore a Georges Chakra gown at the 2020 Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health. Getty Images

When it came to her hair, Beckinsale opted to pull it back into a voluminous updo letting loose a few face-framing strands. As for her makeup, the 47-year-old kept it simple, going for a sun-kissed complexion, a golden smokey eye and pink lipstick.

The mother-of-one accessorized her show-stopping look with a pair of dazzling diamond earrings by Anabela Chan. 

As one of the first major international red carpet events to take place after the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in early spring, guests had to be extra cautious. Attendees all arrived at the socially-distanced event wearing facemasks.

The “Underworld: Evolution” star paired her couture gown with a matching custom mask. AFP
 

However, for Beckinsale, her choice of facemask wasn’t just about safety, hygiene and comfort, but an extension of her glamorous outfit. The “Underworld: Evolution” star had the Lebanese couturier custom-make a face mask out of the same material as her red carpet dress. The cloth mask even featured the same gold sequin detailing as the dress. 

Other guests at the gala included British singer Sting, who was the evening’s honoree, joining previous recipients Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom and Robert Redford.

Former “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis took to the stage to perform. AFP

Hollywood stars Helen Mirren, Sienna Miller, Johnny Depp and Rebel Wilson, model Alton Mason and designer Tommy Hilfiger were also at the event in Monaco. Meanwhile, former “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis took to the stage to perform.

Funds raised to-date support marine conservation programs, the expansion of protected areas and efforts to combat ocean acidification and plastic pollution.