Take the Silk Road with Alain Zisul

Take the Silk Road with Alain Zisul
Take the Silk Road with Alain Zisul

At Alain Zisul's booth, the treasures are not to be found inside the exceptional carefully selected old trunks, but in every corner of the booth. Take pleasure in antiquing the delicacy of a Carré Hermès or the prestige of a Kelly bag, while sharing with this passionate antique dealer the history of large luxury houses. 

What is your background ?

Like many antique dealers here, my career is a little atypical since I originally worked in finance… My parents had opened the booth that I currently occupy in 1989 and following a health problem, my father had to slow down a bit. My wife and I came to take it over the weekend and I found it funnier than manipulating figures behind a computer. Even if, financially, it was a little more difficult, it was in any case much more fulfilling. After a while my father retired and I took over his booth. Having seen trunks and bags for a whole part of my life, learning was therefore quite fast.

My father was the first to sell second-hand Hermès, he greatly contributed to launching vintage fashion.

What can we find on your booth?

Trunks of course because I always liked that, even before my father did this job. When I was a child I had a large trunk where I stored my toys, they are a bit like my Proust madeleine and evoke me the treasure hunt.

You will find on my booth four major brands in priority: Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel and Goyard. I present bags of course, but also accessories like ashtrays, storage pockets and other small objects.

I also have a particular feeling with Hermès Carrés because they represent a very great artistic variety. I have a large personal collection and there are always some on my booth. The first Carré was produced in 1937, originally they were intended for jockeys who wore them during the races to recognize the owner of the horse. Now we can wear them in many different ways.

I like that my booth is not too tidy so that we can search, it is the spirit of the Fleas. I never wanted to put glass so that people could touch and that the pieces could be more accessible.

What do you like in your job?

I feel more like a collector than an antique dealer. What I particularly like about this job is that we have the opportunity to meet very different people. We both can meet the CEO of Google and a young couple who wants to buy a trunk. In the antique trade, there is an ecological side, because we give a second life to objects.

What does Paul Bert Serpette represent for you?

It is a magical place because it is unique in the world. Paul Bert Serpette is like a living museum, which moves, you never see the same things. There is a great diversity of objects and there is something for all budgets.

We brew a very different clientele both in terms of their social status and in terms of their nationality. What is interesting is that the negotiation is not at all the same according to the nationalities and that calls for a lot of psychology.

Do you have a piece on the booth that is close to your heart at the moment ?

I have this Louis Vuitton trunk which was part of my personal collection. I am selling it because I am going to move and it will no longer go to my new room. It is in perfect condition and its color is beautiful, everything fits perfectly. It is very close to my heart and I would like to sell it to someone who will really appreciate it.

Do you have one last anecdote to tell us?

I would like to tell you about one of my first sales. It was my very first Monday, I had a small wooden Orient Express step stool which I used as a display. My father had lent it to me but did not want me to sell it. An American arrives and asks me how much I sold it. So I told him that it was not for sale but he insisted however I told him that I was going to give him a price so high that he couldn't buy it. He still wanted to know, so I gave him an outrageous price, maybe 10 times the price it was really worth. He hands me his card and says: "done" He then tells me " First lesson son, in life everything comes at a price.” This man was the greatest New York antique dealer specializing in trains and particularly in the Orient Express.