Today I have a wonderful interview for you with my friend, the beautiful and accomplished TT. TT has a fantastic background and has an amazing and very unique career, which you’ll soon read more about. The fact that TT is another Hermes lover with a fabulous collection is just icing on the cake! I’m happy to introduce such a lovely and hard working woman to you all – enjoy meeting TT!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
Hi, I’m TT. I am involved in various aspects of aviation – military and civilian. I split my time between several cities, and travel frequently. Most everything we do has to do with airplanes and aviation: aerial refueling, cargo, tracking and so on. The best overall description of what I do is “Air Mobility” – which we like to explain as being the non-lethal use of air power.
I come from a family of engineers and all of us have been involved with aviation, space systems, and satellites and so on in one form or another. I know it gets a bad rap but I am also what could be considered a “part time socialite” – gasp! – which really just means that I attend various political and social events.
Your job sounds amazing, and high profile. What is like to be in that position?
To have connections and the power to change things is not a bad thing. It can be used to do good. It opens doors that may otherwise be closed to others. I help to raise money and do other positive things for military families, aviation museums, and programs to reach out to young people with an interest in aviation. It has been shown that aviation and drugs and alcohol don’t mix. If you can get kids interested in aviation, even kids at risk, they can be encouraged to make positive choices, and given skills and goals that are achievable even if they are from lower income backgrounds. Love of aviation can be a spark that changes a kid’s life.
I know you recently returned from Paris. How was the trip?
Paris has been a lifelong dream for me. Of all the places in the world I have traveled I had never been to Paris. When my husband asked me to marry him, I told him he had to ask me under the Eiffel Tower (hoping this would garner me a nice trip)! Well, we had an Aerial Refueling conference at Bally’s in Las Vegas that year and so he asked me marry him under the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and Casino. Not exactly what I had in mind. But still, with the promise of the real Paris in the future, I said yes.
Fast forward many very busy years later; we still had not made it to Paris, several Europe trips and many many other cities, but not Paris. This year 2012 we just said, let’s just go, so we grabbed my thirteen year old son (who was on spring break) and off we went.
The overall trip was a success and so after a delightful Sunday spent biking around the gardens of Versailles and a picnic on the grounds, we returned to Paris sunburned and tired. He said, “This is our last day in Paris; let’s see the Eiffel Tower one last time”. There were the thousands and thousands of tourists waiting in line to go up on the Tower this Sunday. But the crowds formed a large circle under the Tower towards the edges with the very center area under the Tower open. My son walked to the absolute center and said, “Dad you have to ask her right there”. So my husband walked to that area and my son said, “But you need to get on one knee”.
And so he did. With thousands of uninterested people looking on, my son blushing and grinning, my husband got on one knee in the white dusty ground under the Eiffel Tower and asked me to marry him. Such a feeling of love washed over me. To see him there looking sort of silly balancing on his knee, his hand outstretched and true imploring in his blue eyes. I feel in madly love with him all over again right then and there.
Did you stop by any favorite shops while in Paris?
While in Paris, I went to Hermes on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore (FSH) two mornings. The first day at the shop it was overwhelming. They must have gotten a shipment as they were pulling Birkins and Kellys out of orange boxes in extraordinary numbers. I was so overcome, that I wandered from room to room in a daze. I left. I have been a Hermes customer for years but never have I seen this many bags come out of orange boxes at once.
The next day, I brought my son with me and we settled in at the jewelry area and looked at some pieces. The staff invited my son and I to see the amazing jeweled bags, Haute Bijouterie, in a private showing in a large dark room hidden in the back. It was an experience I will never forget: the black small cubbies with the lights shining on the golden jeweled bags encased in glass, each bag with two guards, another two guards at the entrance and another two at the rear of the room.
My son and I were there by ourselves in that room looking at exquisite things for several hours. They brought sodas for my son and they made us feel so special. If I could never visit a Hermes Boutique again in my life, after that day I would be satisfied in that regard.
In your everyday life – is Hermes very common? What was your first Hermes item?
There’s definitely not that much Hermes in my world, unless I am in NYC for an event. Even in DC, it is pretty rare. My work is mostly with men and you can bet they really don’t care that much about my handbag. I started collecting seriously about 7-8 years ago. I think my first bag was a Black Box Kelly 32 GHW I bought from Cameron at Decades in LA. A lovely, dear, elegant man with a passion for Hermes that is contagious.
What are some other brands you enjoy? What are some your favorite items that you treasure in your wardrobe?
I love clothes, but am a minimalist at heart. So that means I like to have nice things but not too many things. After lots of trial and error, I found Escada to be a good brand and fit for me. I love their suits and they always have that little extra detail to make them feminine. They brought my wedding suit in from Germany for me. A glorious white linen jacket hand embroidered, mid length tulip sleeves and a white linen sheath underneath. That suit still takes my breath away. Overall, I strive for understated elegance.
This S/S 2102 season I found a remarkable leather jacket from Hermes. It feels like evercalf and smells like heaven. It is like wearing a handbag. I am absolutely obsessed with that jacket.
I adore fine lingerie. I don’t mean the outrageous sassy things, but the elegant silk and satin gowns and slips that woman in the 1930s and 1940s movies would wearing as they opened the door to their New York suites at the Waldorf . Each year Agent Provocateur does a line of these elegant dressing gowns.These gowns are expensive, anywhere from $1500-$3500. But the attention to detail is excellent.
I love your new quartz jewelry pieces (seen above). Can you share the story behind them?
It was our anniversary and I had purchased my husband another Hermes watch- a gorgeous thing with a indigo gator strap. After I took him to lunch we went to Hermes to have it adjusted. Hermes Chicago was having their fine jewelry trunk show which I had been invited to, but forgotten about. So while they were fixing my husband’s strap, the store director and sales associates were having me try on the most outrageous jewelry I’d ever seen. Totally gaudy and huge and awful. Like a diamond whip necklace and heavy horse hoof shaped bracelets.
Anyway, under glass I happened to see a very elegant smoky topaz and pave diamond ring. The staff had me try it and it fit. My husband came over and said, “I would like to buy this for you. May I please buy it for you?” And the staff swooned. It was so sweet.
So yes, we ordered the ring and they broke out champagne and cheered us. It was so sweet. Because we could not take it with us, he bought me the Hermes Home Collection Beloved India large embroidered pillow, which somehow was so appropriate. I love that pillow! Anyway one thing led to another and we ordered the matching pendant and then later we ordered the earrings.
What would you advise new Hermes fans to look into besides Birkins and Kellys?
I think an Evelyne is a classic. And the Garden Party is a user friendly bag. It really depends on your lifestyle. For me the Kelly Pochette makes good sense, but not so much the Evelyne.
Learning about the brand is a smart thing for any Hermes fan to do, as the brand is an investment. The travelling Hermes Métiers event was really special in 2011 and it gave my husband a chance to see firsthand the work of the Hermes craftsman across almost all the métiers. He always accepted my passion for Hermes, but this event made him passionate, too. We went to the private opening in our city and he was able to meet the CEO of Hermes North America. It was that event when it “clicked” for him. I spoil my husband with Hermes. He loves Hermes his ties and escarfes. I have given him four Hermes watches, each for a monumental event in our lives together. He wears and adores each.
My husband’s dentist recently went into orbit when she saw his Hermes tie, and that surprised him. When he mentioned that his wife collected bags, including the Birkin, he was completely unprepared for the reaction he got. He became a superstar for even knowing what a Birkin was. Women poured in to meet from other offices just to talk to him. In our world, my husband is a famous and respected man. But these women were not in the least impressed by his fame or career. It was his wife with the Birkin(s) that really interested them. He still gets a grin when he thinks about this.
What do you think about the evolution of the Hermes brand over the years?
Well I was sort of unprepared for the frenzy of that last few years. I used to be able to walk in a quiet boutique and spends hours with my sales associate. We spent time mulling over silks, looking at bags that came out of the mysterious Hermes dungeon. We still do that but the last year or so there was nothing to show me, so we would sit and lament the lack of stock, etc. But I see it improving. I think the steps Hermes took this year were well thought out. Perhaps it holds some of the madness in check.
Can you share a piece of advice about style/shopping/budgeting that you’ve had to learn over the years?
There has certainly been a time in my life where there was no money for luxuries. When that’s the case, things need to be prioritized. One can look and enjoy from afar and wait and save. eBay can be good for bargains, watch for store sales and maybe just get that ONE great piece. No, it won’t change your life, but it can bring joy when worn. If it makes you feel wonderful, then it was a good investment. A lot of times, it’s that ONE thing that you saved for and dreamed of that becomes one of you most precious possessions.
How about a piece of life advice?
Don’t be afraid to change your life. There is always time to change. If you are still breathing then you can change. Never feel you are stuck. And when you do make a change, or go through a difficult experience my advice is to OPEN YOURSELF UP. See where life takes you. You never know what is around the next corner. If you close yourself off then things pass you by, life passes you by.
There needs to be something to say positive every day. Even when things look bad you have to find something positive. It is a mindset: to be grateful. You are responsible for your own happiness. You can’t look to someone else for it. When you figure that out, open yourself up and positive, amazing things happen.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I am a movie buff. All my TV needs is Turner Classics. I don’t sleep much so those movies late at night make me really happy. Because I work with planes, this clip always delights me, from 1933, even though this is so silly it is upbeat and delightful. If I get down or stressed out, this clip ALWAYS makes me smile. But more seriously, I have always been fascinated by clothing and the power it has to affect the perception you have of yourself and of those around you.
Can you describe more about your fascination with clothing/attire and its power?
This concept is a private passion of mine. In my life I can be so many people even in one day and what I am wearing sends signals to those around me who and what I am at that moment. For example, a man is just a man but he puts on a uniform and he is an officer, a scientist goes to work every day as a scientist but he puts on a moon suit and he is an astronaut. A woman is a wife and mother but she puts on a flight suit and she is a pilot. I work with museums and, for example, at the Udvar-Hazy, while the planes and displays are magnificent, what captures me most are the uniforms: the size and shape of the man or woman who wore it, what he felt as he was in the trenches or striding to makeshift command centers making real decisions that affected so directly other lives, perhaps shaped history.
Those garments make history real to me even more than knowing the actual people who made the history. I work with honor flights for WW11 veterans and I see how if they can still put on their uniforms the pride they feel, no matter how difficult the memories, that uniform represents their youth, the service they gave and who they were. Even today the BDU (Battle Dress Uniforms) our service men and woman put on gives them courage to fight a fight. It protects them from in unfamiliar terrain, but also it sends a strong message when worn. Clothing has the power to influence; it tells the world who we are and in some cases it represents the promise of what we can be.
Please share something surprising about yourself!
In my life I have been lucky to have done some really incredible things and have met really interesting and powerful famous people. That’s my surprising bit. My advice from that is, you never know who you are sitting next to, don’t underestimate anyone. Some people are more than they seem and some people are less. Everyone has a story. If you listen. And when you do, you might find something surprising in each person.
Any final comments?
I would like to close with this. There so many ways to say I LOVE YOU. The work I do reminds me every single day how fragile life is. Never to take anything for granted. I strive to say I love you at least once to someone in my life each day. This wonderful video clip always reminds me.
I really loved reading TT’s life advice about being responsible for your own happiness. Very true words for me, and fantastic hearing them from such an accomplished woman. I hope you enjoyed meeting TT, and thank you to TT for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share some of her beautiful photographs and amazing life with us!