Luxury vs Real Life: Have Both (And Eat it Too)
The Lacroix-Guess Allegory and the Modern Epicureanism
The year is 1988: Vogue is (as today) at the pinnacle of the fashion world. Anna Wintour is in charge of her very first cover and French Editor Carlyne Cerf is producing it.
On the concept, Carlyne said:
"I was mixing everything with real things that you wear every day. I like to mix cheap and expensive... It's all about attitude for me. I remember when I did the first issue for Anna, I worked in Paris, and I said if I put the jeans with this divine shirt, it will be perfect. You can wear couture in the streets, it's not that you have to go have the hair done, the makeup done to wear couture... So I put the [Guess] jeans with this famous Lacroix t-shirt [...] I love the street! Adore! Life is about mixing things and dividing it with the street. Voila! “
This cover became so relevant, if you google Carlyne Cerf, the first thing that will pop up will be that picture (the one above). We loved this notion so much, we immediately philosophized in our heads of a blog post where we could canalize this beautiful concept and take it down the river; from fashion to life...
We are kind of epicureans: we seek pleasure and avoid pain, and our pleasures can be modest or luxurious; but the reality goes beyond this simplicity and extends to a spectrum where we find ourselves craving both at the same time (without defining them as lesser than the other). We are in the middle of the Kinsey scale of sexuality, but with beauty and there is a comfort and joy that comes from being able to connect both.
The thought that “expensive” means better or that “affordable” means you’re not worth it, is a language we don’t speak or understand. And no matter how many instagrammers say you need that Chanel bag or “bloody shoes” (hey, Cardi), we have to remember that that is not real life. We call this phenomena: aesthetic apathy. Something that is made inaccessible to a demographic means its exclusivity only depends on the value of it and who pays for it; it’s not about goodness or beauty even or love. So you have to find what’s worth it. The psychological comfort that comes from purchasing a product simply because it’s $$$ is a co-dependant consumer to product cycle that can become a little self-destructive. So instead, we say: reinvent what that luxurious feeling means to you and focus in connecting your identity to things / experiences that actually will cause you joy (and hopefully does not abduct half your paycheck).
These little luxuries or “petite pleasures” as we call them, are the non-tangible, feeling-inducing sources of happiness whose price tag is irrelevant (as in, can be the cost of a house or a tic tac). Things like: buying yourself a bouquet of flowers, treating yourself to a nice meal, or a massage, or treating your soul to (some sort of) therapy, (reiki, energy work, etc), see a play, go to the ballet, a hair treatment or buying the book you’ve been eyeing. Film photography is one of our favourite things: it nips instant gratification in the bud. It creates excitement and encourages patience.
In a beautiful nutshell, what we’re saying is: luxury and its habits are not about the price tag but how it makes you feel. If it does in a negative way, step back, lover. Desire is healthy, deprecation is not. So, buy the Givenchy and the Gap; the Lacroix and the Guess, and wear them proudly... a wild flower and a rose are both flowers and sometimes “a cigar is just a cigar.”
Image: Michaela Bercu for US Vogue in November 1988. This was Anna Wintour's first issue as Editor-in-Chief. Photograper: Peter Lindbergh