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HEADING EAST: The Financial Times has launched a new edition for the Middle East, with the first full edition available today. The FT said the timing of the launch coincides with the emergence of the Gulf region as an international finance and business center. The FT's regional editorial team will be based in Abu Dhabi and stringer journalists will be recruited in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. — Amy Wicks
NOT SO SCARCE: Ever since the Hermès Birkin bag was introduced in 1984, it's been one of the hottest bags in Hollywood and also one of the most elusive, no matter how much influence or money the buyer has. Even A-list celebrities stay on waiting lists for months, or even years. As a "Robin Hood to thousands of desperate rich women," former hairdresser and makeup artist Michael Tonello created a lucrative business out of acquiring these hard-to-obtain bags and reselling them, sometimes on eBay, other times to private clients, and he documented the process in his new novel, "Bringing Home the Birkin."
During tea Monday at the St. Regis in Manhattan, Tonello unlocked one of the key secrets to obtaining a Birkin and skipping the waiting list. And he should know. After all, in 2005 alone, he spent approximately $1.6 million purchasing them. "If someone walks in and buys a scarf, a whole outfit, all of a sudden, a saleswoman might say, 'We have a Birkin in the back room if you're interested.' The key is how much money is spent at Hermès — it can let you jump the waiting list by two years." His globe-trotting tales about buying Birkins (there is a map in the book) and reselling them went on sale April 22. So far, he said Hermès has addressed the book publicly in one publication — the Boston Globe. An Hermès spokeswoman said there was a waiting list at one time but now the company has realized the whole concept could be off-putting for some customers. — A.W.