It’s everywhere, designer couture is. You know, those overpriced sunglasses, clutches, tote bags, garments, and other accessorizing artifacts of upper-crust society: must-haves all, simply to-die-for, et al, mall-wandering pre-teens happily turning themselves into walking, texting catwalk-cum-food-court advertisements for Gucci, for Dolce & Gabbana, for Louis Vuitton. The culture is saturated; nothing’s shocking. Your correspondent, admittedly, is at various gender, generational, and financial removes from the mind-state in which these symbols of status become both urgent and key, but I’m starting to wonder if flaunting, say, Givenchy carries the same significance today that it did even 10-12 years ago.
I wonder about this because designer boutiques are everywhere now; it’s almost impossible to swing a dead mink without knocking over a $600 crocodile handbag. Remember when you had to drive a couple of hours to the outdoor outlet mall, how that trip was a special once-a-year pre-Christmas/Kwanza/Hanukkah event? That era is toast, because today every reasonably-sized metropolis– and some that aren’t—has its own outlet mall, or existing multi-tiered mall that has been semi-dramatically reconfigured to accommodate the mores and bank accounts of the nouveau riche.
Putting aside the callousness and insanity of this trend spiking during a significant economic downturn, our culture seems due for a new layer of supreme extravagance and exclusivity, an upper-upper crust of super-elite brands and products that are just that much further beyond the reach and price of your average fashionista—fetish objects so rare and desired that knock-off sweatshops haven’t begun to bootleg them just yet. Social climbing just isn’t quite challenging enough anymore.