A few months ago, my print-obsessed self saved some old copies of New York Magazine from a trash can. The ads I found inside were either too gorgeous or amusing to keep to myself, so I thought, who better to share them with than the WORN audience?
I sit staring at a room filled with white Chanel bags for the seventh time, wondering if I am getting any closer to meaning. Watching Karl Lagerfeld unveil the Fall-Winter 2010/2011 Ready to Wear Pre Collection in a Godard-esque short has left me in a somewhat bemused. However, once you get over the initial sting of thinking ‘Why aren’t I drinking expensive champagne after a Chanel binge?’, the film opens itself up for a more critical interpretation.
‘Shopping Fever’ is at a very basic level, a portrait of excess and indulgence. Many of these design house shorts (which I too often find myself watching), seem to promote this type of lavishness without economic concern or consequence. Women lie on beds of goose feathers while Swarovski diamonds shower down upon them, and we jump out of our itchy one hundred thread count sheets, and into whatever trendy item it is that we can’t afford. In most cases, these design house shorts promote a lifestyle behind their brand that remains unobtainable to the masses. In Shopping Fever though, what Lagerfeld is doing is a bit different, perhaps even subversive.
Overall, the short comes across as comical, and not just because of my critical, excess-is-silly eye. It is this comedic quality that allows Lagerfeld’s short to be viewed as more progressive, and ‘not just another design house ad’. The sequencing and soundtrack alludes to that of a 1960s suspense trailer; the juxtaposition of this and Dree Hemingway ‘angrily’ clutching her head in her hand, next to overflowing Chanel bags, parodies both the genres of suspense and fashion advertising. A typical suspense trailer offers its audience excitement, dramatics, lies and scheming, normally for some sort of high stakes situation (e.g the world ending). Here, the dramatics are all moulded around whatever could be in that bag (this seasons must-have jeggings, perhaps?). Whatever the bags contain, the viewer knows it is most likely not earth shattering (or even remotely feverish), and the dramatics of the rest of the short come off as comical. Instead of being in a state of frenzied awe and running to our nearest credit card, as most fashion advertisements encourage us to do, Lagerfeld’s piece allows the common viewer to sit back and chuckle at the ‘problems’ of the wealthy. Like a comedy of manners, Lagerfeld is satirizing the behaviours of his top consumers. After my now eighth survey of ’Shopping Fever’, I still am enamoured by a room filled with Chanel goodies, but can do so without jealousy or wanting to break the bank. I relax and begin to feel like good old uncle Karl is giving a wink to the proletariat.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a good smell. Whether damp soil, lilies, new shoe leather, inland water, church incense, a clean shirt or old books, almost nothing produces as visceral a reaction as scent. It conjures memory, desire, and potential; a lovely fragrance makes everything nicer, an unpleasant odor makes everything worse. So it’s no surprise I was curious to read Perfumes: A Guide.
At first glance, the book has an encouraging heft, with perfume reviews from page 51 to 366. I was slightly put off by the lack of images, but after reading a few random reviews I discovered this volume had something much better: A sense of humour. Within the first fifteen minutes of leafing through this book, I laughed out loud no less than five times. The authors are clever, imaginative, and in possession of a biting wit. Whether I recognized (or cared about) a particular subject or not, I found myself devouring every review as though I was reading a collection of short stories.
I was also pleased to find the ratings economically democratic. The book includes everything from the cheapest drugstore colognes to the most exclusive high-end fragrances, and it was nice to discover they were equally exposed to praise or censure. In a favourable review of David Beckham’s Instinct, Sanchez declares that “snobbery in perfumery is pointless,” and Turin gives Cacharel’s LouLou (a high school favourite) five stars; “Do not be misled by the fact that LouLou, when found, is likely to be cheap. This is one of the greats.” Lady Stetson also gets top marks. On the opposite side, Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport is described as “being stuck in an elevator for twelve hours with a tax accountant,” and their Gardenia as a “loud, airport-toilet floral.” Ha. Continue reading →