Psychology was my major in college. I was quite mesmerized by the Freudian theories of Id, Ego and Superego.
The Id theory is the part of the personality predicating on the pleasure principle. Instant gratification.
Speaking of instant gratification, I was passing by the Louis Vuitton store the other day and saw a horde of people inside. There was commotion and chaos. Kids were running around and adults looked frazzled. The first thought that crossed my mind was oh my goodness; there is a mob inside the store!
Usually one does not expect to see droves of people inside stores with LV kind of exclusivity factor. You expect to see a select few carousing the products in their well-heeled soles and under the very watchful eye of the security guard. The tones are hush and the sales staff move around stealthily in the background in their dark sleek uniforms and perfectly gelled hair.
So why the radical change? Why do I hear sounds of babies howling rather than hush mellifluous tones? Why do I see baby bottles on the counters rather than strategically placed trinkets to lure the buyer to buy add-ons “just because” along with the other hefty four-figure purchases.
Such swarms are seen in and expected to be seen in more “mass friendly” stores. Curiosity got the better of me and I peeked inside. To my utter shock what did I see? A line, yes a queue of people waiting patiently to pay for the “exclusive” four figures and up monogramed bags! There was surrealism to the moment.
I was befuddled, confused and perturbed. Aren’t we going through the worst global economic crisis of all times? Isn’t the employment rate in the U.S. the highest since the Great Depression? Isn’t the crashing Greek economy threating to cast a dark shadow of doom over the entire economy of the European continent? But here, right before my eyes, straight in my ocular field I was witnessing a long queue of people clamoring to have thousands of dollars charged on their credit cards for a few alphabetic symbols.
Were these people simply succumbing to satisfying their Id personality? Seeking instant gratification. Or were they endorsing their status in society via the monogrammed letters, giving them a feeling of success and a sense of having arrived?
Most likely it is a mixture of both, satisfying the Id and an endorsement of societal status. After all, aren’t the two interchangeable?
While in the Western world, there is an economic crisis, in the remaining parts of the world there is an economic boom. The BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China are going through an unparalleled monetary upward swing. The buying power of the so-called middle-class is rising exponentially. Such amassing of wealth has given rise to a heightening in the Id personality. And how is the Id gratified? On a base level, by an acquisition of Brand products.
On one of my recent visits to India, I was amazed to see the power of the Brands on the psyche of the masses. The worth of a person is judged according to the Brands he or she is wearing. For example the Brand of purse she is carrying or the wallet he is whipping out. There is plenty of disposable income and the Brands are happily obliging by rushing to satiate the deep hunger of masses with increasingly deep pockets.
There is most likely minimal to zero knowledge regarding the rich history, the origin, the culture or the value of the Brand, but there is definite knowledge of the power the Brand wields in society. Such consumer may mis-pronounce an elite Brand such as Hermes and de-value it by rhyming it with a viral genital disease, (you know what I mean) but hey everyone recognizes the giant lock on the bag which will lead to the unanimous verdict of having arrived, thereby satisfying the Id.
Such consumers use their Brand possessions strategically. The monogrammed Brands usually “come-out” during group gatherings such as parties, swanky club get-togethers, ladies lunches etc. The Brands are not used for solitary occasions. I mean, why use a Brand when nobody can see it.
This makes me wonder. Was the Brand purchased solely for display? Is the value of the Brand solely to exhibit ones status in society? Does the Brand have absolutely no worth to the user as an individual?
If such is the case, in my opinion the Brand is de-valued.
The symbols are meant for enjoyment-the LV, the H, the two G’s, the two C’s, the EA. They most certainly satisfy the Id. But let’s move to a higher level of Ego and leave behind the superficiality of merely the possessory and display value of the alphabets. How about exploring the history and origin of the alphabets. Learn how a poor cobbler in the remote village of France started the business, one hide at a time, hand stitching each bag to the point of utmost perfection. How an empire was built from a mom and pop owned family business. Learn the vision of the brand, its culture, its ethics.
Use it for your own enjoyment and think of its rich history while carrying it to the supermarket where you don’t expect to meet any one from your social circle.
Then you will truly derive “added-value” from your Brand possession. You will satisfy not just the Id but the Ego.
India is on the global radar. India is the “talk of the globe.” India is Conspicuous!
It has gone from being the land of snake charmers, beggars, saffron robed sadhus (hermits) and the home of the “new” 7th wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal, to one of the fastest rising BRIC nations, boasting the top 15 richest people on the Forbes list and having an array of luxury brands forgoing opening stores in U.S. and Europe and courting and serenading India.
The tags have changed from the “third world country” to the “rising super power.” All of a sudden the peaceful yogic and meditative nation has become an exploding power to reckon.
Fashion has come to the forefront with the rise of the middle class and increase in the disposable income. Expedited globalization has increased the awareness quotient for international brands, fashion styles, the “it” bags, shoes etc. There is an exponential growth of the fine taste of luxury.
There is a boom of international brands such as Louis Vuitton who released a special edition Diwali dress to join in the jubilations of the festival of lights; Gucci who came up with a special clutch as the accessory to be carried with the traditional sari; Burberry, Christopher Bailey himself made a recent trip to India for a tete-a-tete with the who’s who of Bollywood; Dior; L’Occitane and of course the very flamboyant Roberto Cavalli to satisfy the ostentatious element of the Indian psyche. After all, what is the point of all the wealth when one can’t flaunt it by wearing a theatrical Cavalli caftan!
Indian designers have jumped on the fast speeding fashion Ferrari as well (no longer the term band wagon can be used for the speeding growth in India.)
Indian designers have made an effort to understand the “international” fashion market. The fashion shows have increased. The fall/winter, spring/summer concepts have been adopted and the runway shows are becoming artistic productions with Bollywood stars being lured to walk the ramp as “show stoppers.” Famous musicians croon in the background in fashion shows as gangly and lanky models with “not so” quintessential Indian features slither on the runway with angry expressions on their faces.
The designers have learnt that they need to veer away from the traditional dresses such as the sari to cater to the global market. They have grasped that they need to make their clothes reach out to the “much enamored by the West” masses of India if they want to compete with the infiltrating international brands.
I understand that change is the essential element for all growth. Stagnancy can only cause decay and eventually death. However, as a much exposed fashion aficionado, I do have a bone to pick with the Indian designers. I understand that they need to compete in the global market and venture outside the customary conventionalism. However, simply aping the West is not the answer either. Because then there is no uniqueness, no originality, no newness. We already have the McQueen, McCartney, Balenciaga and Lanvin, we do not need a clone of them. Anna dello Russo has done the cherry hat a million times, conjure up another accessory! View the photos below, are they reminiscent of looks we may have recently seen…a deja vu, if you will!
There are a few Indian designers who are unique and churn out awe-inspiring designs season after season. They have stayed true to their unique signature designs and incorporated them with modernism for the global appeal. My favorites are Sabyasachi, Masaba Gupta and Anand Kabra.
I perfectly understand that we all seek inspiration from somewhere. Even the masters such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo were inspired by other artists. Nothing wrong with that. Be inspired, but bring your true identity to your designs to make them unique. Especially in fashion, uniqueness is a prerequisite, else it is “mass fashion.”
Lately the runways are fuming with “smoking” models, literally “smoking” on the runways.
One can see the super-thin models walking in the buff and emanating a “puff” from their perfectly matte or super-glossed pout, depending whether you are at Yves Saint Laurent or Gucci.
I was a bit astounded and bewildered,as I thought to myself, unbeknownst to me, did the Surgeon General revise the much touted cigarette warning? My query was quickly answered in the negative by the omniscient Google.
Then why am I seeing models running rampant on the slicked runways with a cigarette dangling from their lips? From Kate Moss for Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 to Lady Gaga for Mugler show. Melbourne fashion week had models dressed as “women of luxury” with billowing swirls of smoke rising between their delicate lacquered fingers in a smoky salon environment. Cult blogger Bryanboy is seen flaunting a drag from his ciggy.
The most likely reason is that the fashion industry is in a perpetual quest of the next “it” concept; the next “unparalleled” runway show and the next “shock inspiring” campaign. What better way to grab the attention of the consumer than using a prop that is synonymous with notoriety. A prop that can be the subject of much heated debates and is counter-cultural. It truly can be called the “it” prop. (Disclaimer: I am not promoting (or not) cigarettes, but merely analyzing the wide use of cigarette as a prop on runways.)
Another reason for using cigarettes as props is because fashion is cyclical. It is like karma, it is bound to come back. Flares come back, platforms come back, and even big padded shoulders have made a come-back. So, why not cigarettes. This season there has been a surge of the 70s. Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford all have hustled down to the 70s and brought back ideas for their respective lines. And what could be more synonymous with the 70s than smoking.
So, in summary, without making this blog political or for that matter medical by weighing in on the pros and cons (well, mostly cons) of smoking, it is fair to say that the fashion industry is always on the abyss to find ways to “shock.” Sooner or later, we all run out of shock ideas and revert back in time to re-visit old ideas and re-package them.
What will we see next…a model rolling a marijuana joint while walking in Eiffel tower-esque Pierre Hardy heels!! Now that will be trippy, no I mean it in the most literal sense!
From the labyrinth of my memory I remembered the words of a childhood poem. “Kate, Kate don’t be late, here is your satchel and here is your slate….Kate, Kate don’t be late!!
A sweet, simple, uncomplicated, straightforward poem denoting innocence and simplicity.
Fast forward to the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2011 show and watch super-model Kate Moss sashaying on the runway with a swagger. Cigarette dangling from her lips, puffing up a storm, strutting her “barely” covered derrière. She has an “I-give-a-damn” expression on her chemically peeled face resulting in a perfect stretch and shine of the skin! She is lean, she is mean. She is defiant, she is audacious. She is bold, she is provocative. She is saucy and shameless.
This Kate is always late. Why? Simple, because it is fashionable to be late. This Kate does not need a satchel or a slate. Why? Simple, because she has a Blackberry and iPhone with a top-of-the-line voice recognition app that takes perfect notes tucked deep in her super-sized Louis Vuitton monogramed satchel.
The Kate of my childhood poem and the Kate on the runway; although namesake, yet diametrically opposed. What’s in a name?
A short and thoughtful blog for today, as I am tired. Yes I had a long day with clients and files and I feel tirrreeeed!!
I went to China recently and I will share my travels to the far east with you shortly.
Today, I was skimming through my photos and found this one in Shanghai.
It stood out most amongst a plethora of other photos due to the size of my gigantic Louis Vuitton bag in contrast with the Chinese man. The LV seems to have a personality of its own. The thought that crossed my mind was the desire to look and feel good runs in all human beings. Here I was with my giant LV bag, wearing a Max Mara tuxedo coat with patent Jimmy Choo boots. My outfit probably cost the nice Chinese gentleman’s half a year’s salary.
On the other hand, the nice man was no less spiffy with his perfectly ironed and bleached shirt, a vest underneath (yes, the most stylish item of clothing on the runway), a stylish beret and charming shoes.
We both had made an effort to look our very best in our respective ways. Me, by carrying my appendage of an LV bag, and him by paying close attention to the details of his clothing. The snow white shirt is an example of the thought he has put into dressing.
We were from different worlds, different generations and our dialogue was lost in translation. Yet, the common thread of sartorial elegance bound us like glue. Our respective smiles are an example of the oneness in our spirit. So, dress for the soul.
Trav-el: To move, to go, to transmit, to transport, to journey, to proceed. All forward moving acts…and for me all done with style and elegance.
I was at the airport today and as is my true nature, I observed. I surveyed harried travelers pushing their U.S. 20 dollar unsightly brown, red and black Rexene suitcases tied with equally dull ropes, tapes or cords on metallic trolleys. I observed travelers dressed in their ungainly worst in sweat pants, the most worn (surely comfortable) t-shirts, drab exercise shoes and nylon bags. They were ubiquitous and omnipresent!!
It was a lacklustrous sight and definitely did not invoke any glamorous feelings such as “wanderlust.” In fact, I was saddened by the lack of care, thought and style put into traveling. It made me think, has traveling become so cumbersome for us as a society that we try to look and dress our very worst? I mean taking a 23 hour flight to another continent does take a toll on one’s hair and skin, but can’t we make it somewhat of a pleasant experience by infusing some style, grace and flair to it? Can we halt the dullness in an already dull journey?? The suitcases below invoke supreme images of drab.
I perfectly know and understand that all of us can’t afford a 4,000 dollar luggage set. But, at least we can be inspired by it. So here we go, picture and imagine this on your next trip and start building your travel kit. Less or more money…does not matter. What matters is the taste you have!
Too bad travel by ship is obsolete, otherwise who can resist the beautiful Louis Vuitton trunks? A truly regal sight to behold!
In modern times at least go for stylish, soft luggage infused with a pattern or color.
On a long flight nothing feels so good against your tired and dried skin as cashmere. The comfort you will derive from your own soft and clean blanket will far outweigh the cost of it.
Pamper yourself with a few extras to add swagger and verve to your mood! (In fact, you will brighten the day of your fellow traveler as well.) My bag always consists of a good soft lotion that smells divine. I love the Shea butter in the L’Occitane lotion (just the word butter makes me go ummmmm!)
A hydrating spray for the face not only softens the skin, but wakes up tired eyes, without using the germy loo!
A lip salve in an old-fashioned tin smelling of roses to moisten the lips in the arid airplane air.
An Italian hand blended perfume that refreshes not only you, but brings a whiff of pleasure to your fellow passenger as well. Inspired by original 16th century secret formulas commissioned by Caterina de Medici, “i Profumi di Firenze” perfumes.
Okay, you hipsters might scoff, but I am an old-fashioned girl and love to keep myself fresh with talcum powder. I know you may say it is a grandmotherly product and sooo outdated, but try it on a long flight to freshen not only your intimate parts, but to luxuriate in its softness and freshness!! Can you resist the old-fashion charm of the Italian talc, “Boro Talco”?
Buon viaggio my friends and may the style be with you always!