The Hermes store at Highland Park Village.


How a Hermès Handbag Brought Down the Store’s Longtime Local Manager

The managing director of the Hermès boutique in Highland Park Village has departed after a handbag sale failed to follow the company's rules, sources say.

Posing for photos, one Dallas socialite often makes sure the camera can see she’s carrying a Birkin handbag by Hermès of Paris, the French luxury fashion manufacturer. That’s because among celebrities, the uber-rich, and wannabes in Dallas and elsewhere, few social-class status symbols are as potent as the Birkin and its sibling bag, called the Kelly.

The former—a hand-sewn leather or exotic skin handbag/tote—is named after the English actress/model Jane Birkin and can sell for anywhere from $8,500 to, believe it or not, $380,000 (that was achieved at a Christie’s auction last year). The Kelly, which is named after the American actress Grace Kelly, who was married to Prince Ranier III of Monaco, also is hand-crafted but is considered more classic, more refined, and even more luxurious than the Birkin.

Hermès capitalizes on the scarcity and exclusivity of these bags, which helps make them hot items on the resale market. Dallas’ Heritage Auction Gallery, for example, has offered a number of Birkins and Kellys on its website, for prices ranging from four figures to $203,150. Hermès itself has super-strict policies for purchasing the bags, with waiting lists as long as six years and even rules about who can be put on the list in the first place (your previous purchases and standing with the company may be considered).

All of which brings us to the Hermès of Paris boutique in Dallas’ Highland Park Village. There, sources say, the popular longtime managing director, Martha Fordyce, recently parted ways with Hermès following an under-the-radar drama involving one of these pricey bags.

According to four people with knowledge of the situation, higher-ups from the Hermès corporate office appeared unexpectedly at the HPV boutique to lower the boom on Fordyce—who’d managed the store for nearly 23 years—and at least one sales associate. The reason: Hermès rules regarding the use of credit-card purchases for a bag had somehow been violated for an “out-of-state VIP.”

Fordyce did not agree to be interviewed for this story, and Hermès of Paris Inc. in New York didn’t return repeated phone messages seeking comment. An Hermès representative at the HPV store promised to forward our name and email address to the corporate headquarters, but we’ve yet to hear back from anyone there. Who knows; maybe there’s a waiting list just to talk with Hermès, too, and so far we haven’t made the cut. Quelle surprise.


  • Hanson Walker

    Great story. Someone that doesn’t live in Texas bought a purse with a credit card and nobody will return your calls. Glad I read.

  • Sara Morgan

    Hermes is suddenly on a spree firing long time managers, sales associates, and even a family member who created the successful petite H line of products. No comments from corporate in Paris or from those fired. Now an investigative news report on this month long head chopping would have made interesting reading. Instead we get boring heresay with several basic errors. Wait list–Hermes will deny they have one. Six years is for exotics. There is no limit to what you can put on your credit card set by Hermes itself. Limits set by card companies or countries to control outflow of currency such as China.

  • “Hermès itself has super-strict policies for purchasing the bags, with
    waiting lists as long as six years and even rules about who can be put
    on the list in the first place (your previous purchases and standing
    with the company may be considered).”

    Sorry to say…..That’s a bunch of baloney. There’s no “waiting list” at Hermes. The only thing that Hermes is waiting for is someone to walk in the door and drop of bunch of $$$ on clothing/shoes/jewelry/etc…and then they’ll happily sell you a Birkin. If they actually put you on some phony waiting list then they have no intention of selling you a bag.

    michael tonello

  • RompingWillyBilly

    Have you ever wondered why France sits at the center of the fashion and luxury industry? What is Old World luxury versus what is New World luxury? The answer is interesting.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    Old World luxury had more to do with leisure. It was expected of those within the supportimg aristocratic “Crown” to thrive without working. Indeed, such a retail economy had little to do with New World concepts of durability and ergonomics. As every firstborn child of the underling commoners were being employed traditionally by the monarchy to keep the vast majority polarized, the second born customarily went into the service of the church.
    The rest of the offspring had to survive illegally during that time on property owned by the king. Those commoners (those ruled by common law) working illegally were then taken to court and penalized (this is where the first modern lawyers were introduced) with a tax. Counties were then created as tax districts as barons (business executives) were being allowed into the Crown to work the commoners.
    We are talking big time organized crime here or what is more properly called “the manufacturing of events.”
    During this time, retail was a very shallow endeavor. For example, as work was frowned upon, a “royal” brush manufactured for the upper crust (those that got the first pick of the large loaf of community bread) might be studded with jewels.
    In the New World, this system was turned on its head. The master craftsmen and artisans relocating from the Old World didn’t have a market for their quality goods and services. They had to become farmers and learn how to grow food.
    This is where the American Work Ethic originated. Indeed, a store like Sears succeeded in the retail marketing of durable and ergonomic products. Even on the level of discount (never downscale), quality is expected!