The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Rich Get.....Well, Kinda Dumber

I'm not sure why I work so hard to earn money, when it turns out that there are people all over the country who are simply desperate to find new and unique ways to throw it away. I've long suspected this fact--how else to explain things like $300 sunglasses (given how many I've managed to sit on or drop off piers, I tend to think of sunglasses as a disposable item and feel like I've been robbed if I pay more than $12 for them...which, provided they're also dreadfully ugly and make me look like a goggle-eyed fly, is a surefire guarantee that I'll never lose them and they'll end up being buried with me), $50 lipstick (I've gone all out when I actually buy a $5 lipgloss--most of the time I'm good with a tube of giveaway lipbalm from Radiology Associates), and $500 lingerie (if I'm going to pay in the $100's for something that will end up on the floor, it had better be a handmade rug)? But there was an article in my paper last night that blew even my cynical, cheap little mind. Get this.

Apparently, it is no longer enough for the wealthy in America to buy luxurious items--now they want super pricey, rare items that blow right past our former definitions of expensive. According to the chief luxury officer at CurtCo Media (no, even I couldn't make up a title like that--it's real), the wealthy want things now that "shout quietly". Like the $700,000 Montblanc pen studded with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds that sold within days of arriving at the New York store. That's quiet? Sorry, but I think a $700,000 writing implement qualifies as a full on ear-splitting scream. I wonder what they'd think if they knew that every day I stick two pens in my uniform pocket out of my huge supply of free drug company pens, and most days I come home with two completely different ones--because, if it writes and it's within reach, it's good enough. And there's no shortage of free drug company pens at work. I also tend to gnaw on my pens when I'm thinking......and, while I guess choking to death on a ruby is something of a glamorous way to go, I think I'll skip it.

The article profiled a woman in New York (Nadine) who makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,000 a year, who spends about half of that on clothes and accessories--around $1000 a month. Here's her quote, which I think qualifies as the dumbass quote of the month: "My first priority should be my bills. But these designers bring out so many hot items that you must have these things. I am always late with my bills." She also mentioned buying a $1,100 Gucci messenger bag recently, because she can't always use the $3000 bag from Fendi that her boyfriend bought her at Christmas. After all, "you have to change your look, to look fresh". I guess Nadine can take comfort in the knowledge that when all of her debtors finally get sick of waiting for little unimportant things like rent, she'll be the freshest-dressed homeless person in New York, with a choice of really nice bags to push around in her shopping cart.

But here's the part that really got me. Louis Vuitton presold a limited number of $40,000+ patchwork bags made from samples from different spring and summer collections. (It's worth pointing out here that this price tag is only slightly less than the median household income in this country.) Now, I like to sew things, so I realized in a flash what this was about. Louis Vuitton has taken their scraps--the little bits of fabric that are too small to make into handbags--stitched them all together into Frankenpurses, and convinced the wealthy to pay enough money to support a small family for a year to purchase them. They've actually gotten people to not only pay for what is essentially their garbage (I'm sure they threw away their scraps before they realized what they could convince the wealthy to do), but to get on a waiting list to do so even before they were made. My mind boggles. I'll bet these people would faint dead away if they knew that the purse I've been carrying for over a year cost me all of $6 at Value Village, and probably didn't cost more than $20 brand new.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for finding creative ways to use leftovers rather than throwing them out. I even think the purse idea is somewhat clever. But I'm astounded that someone would pay enough money to buy a pretty nice luxury car--for a handbag. Maybe it's because mine is sort of a catchall for gum wrappers, receipts, tampons, hairbands, a hairbrush, an assortment of cheap pens with and without caps, chapstick, etc. It's like a junk drawer with a strap, in other words, and I just don't think my junk needs a $40,000 storage bag. It also gets slung carelessly into my car, dropped on wet pavement, occasionally slammed in doors, and rifled through wrecklessly when I can't find what I'm looking for...which is often. If I've ever had a purse that didn't end up with ink marks and tears in the lining, as well as scuff marks on the outside and half of the stitches popped that were supposed to be holding the strap on, I don't recall it.

In the end, I don't think I want to be wealthy...I fear the surgery to remove my common sense might be too painful.

In spite of my shock and horror at the whole Frankenpurse thing, I did manage to get this far on the evening wrap (which is little more than a wide scarf, but I think it'll work fine):

I tried to get a good picture of the lace design I chose, but me and know. I'm not going to give up my day job to be a photographer any time soon. Not unless the rich start realizing there's some sort of cachet in having all your wedding photos blurry and having the bride's head cut off in three-quarters of them. Then, of course, I'll be making $50,ooo a wedding. For now, though, I think Ed likes the shawl:

Okay, so really he was waiting for breakfast and not at all patient with this whole "take pictures of wads of yarn" thing, but you can't be a knitter's cat without some degree of suffering. Lastly, I offer a picture of Gracie, because someone mentioned they hadn't seen her in awhile...which is quite true:

As you can see behind her, the dropcloth is still there for me to finish the back door. Maybe I should leave it as might add value to the house to have it "quirkily unfinished", should the rich people come looking. Maybe I could say that the French doors were left over from another house and that's why they don't appear to match. Hell, we could make millions.

Knit on, Friends. And don't forget to love your purse today. Clearly, it's more valuable than anyone suspected.


  • At 9:38 AM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    Oh Florence what perfect timing ..I just heard Holly saying "what the heck is that supposed to look like in God's name" . She had done a Corbis search of Rupert Everett only to find him at a 100 years of Vuitton fabric party wearing a purple velvet suit with a choker , too much eye-shadow and what appeared to be several crucifixes. We blew it up out of sheer horror. ( to have a better look/smirk )You can be sure if there is a really gross label "Bulgari" etc he'll be at the party. In real life he doesn't seem to wear labels .Labels are Jeff's big bug-bear as for expensive ( have to go on a waiting list ) handbags ..give me a break ! I get free plastic biros from "Get Knitted" when I order so won't be rushing out for that pen .Nouveau riche trash or what? Is it any wonder Jeff's office ( Govt.department dealing in bankrupts) is snowed under by idiots who think they might actually die without that label item. I , of course, will wear nothing but designer knits ( trouble is I am the designer so I look like a bag-lady).

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger Faren said…

    I always thought that if I became rich I wouldn't spend my money stupid things like these, but maybe you do have to be an idiot BEFORE you become rich. Maybe that's what we are all doing wrong. Sounds like Nadine fits the bill though.
    You know, I bet that $700,000 pen doesn't even write well. I've seen houses priced less than those handbags, what is wrong with people?
    The wrap looks good! I like the lace pattern and I'm sure it will look great once blocked. The yarn sure is pretty too.
    Love the pictures of the cats! Gracie looks so sweet,such a sweetheart, and Ed is pretty cute too.

  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger Marianne said…

    Hi Ed and Gracie!

    The evening wrap in progress is a beauty for sure, love those colours!

    Nadine....sheesh, what a dumbass, and woefully impoverished....

    $700,000.00 for a writing tool... think of all the good that money could do...mind bloggling indeed.

  • At 10:43 AM, Blogger Charity said…

    Yikes, I bought my purse for 50 cents at a garage sale.... :0)

    The evening wrap/scarf is looking good!

  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger Lynn said…

    She shoots, she scores!

    I abhor waste, I love repurposing, and that $40K bag cost what my first house did. So yes, kudos to them for finding a way to use the scraps, and I guess there's no reason for me to try to invent that home lobotomy kit, because somebody else has obviously beaten me to it.

  • At 1:00 AM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said…

    Who was it that said, "Eat the rich"? [veg] I can remember reading Vogue (not knitting) in my early 20's and wondering why the hell people were so stupid as to pay that much for clothes 'n stuff. Plus worry about changing entire wardrobes 4x a year so they would keep up. Yep, Nadine needs a cranial rectotomy. (Or whatever that 2nd word should be; I'm sure you can correct me if I'm wrong. [g])

    And hey, if they want to spend money on scraps, boy, I've got a beat-up old backpack I use as a purse they can have for only $20K! It's all one color, so won't coordinate with everything in their wardrobe, which means they'll need to buy other bags, so it'll fit right in with their lifestyle! Rips and broken zipper included, just a little lagniappe.

    Moving on to real life... My dearest Ed is looking rather pinched; are you feeding that cat? ;) Sweet Gracie - such a demure pose, there! (I'm sure she's plotting something for world domination.) And hon, you're obviously knitting a stole, not a wide scarf, which looks gorgeous; but really, one must keep up with the proper fashionable terminology. One wouldn't want to be thought gauche, would one? One might be suspected of not spending $123,000 for an accessory, and we surely can't have that!


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