It's true. I believe we purchase designer goods because we are seeking a higher, more sophisticated, heavenly, beautiful version of our lives. If we can't be dressed from head-to-toe in Louis Vuitton, then maybe a handbag here, a keychain there. Mix it up with finds from H&M and Target GO designers. As our income increases, and the corporate monsters work with up-and-coming designers on the next big "IT" items, we then try to compete to have the next nicest piece, whether it's from an atelier in Copley Plaza, a discounted find at Filene's Basement, or scoured from eBay.
We do the same for our homes. Ikea, anyone? Perhaps upgrade and get something nicer from Unica Home instead. And so the story goes, where consumerism can be at best, therapy, at worse, an addiction.
I don't think I have an addiction. I do know that in the last 5 years, I have spoiled myself immensely, purchasing limited edition Louis Vuittons that I have never used, and occasionally pledging my allegiance to Prada, Dior, Gucci, and Bottega Veneta. The one item I covet is a Chanel white python purse which I was never able to find. After seeing it in a Neiman Marcus catalog, I loved it but didn't have the foresight to clip the damn thing and bring with me when inquiring in the boutiques. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. I've brought my purchasing down a notch in terms of quantity, but I've allowed myself to ante up in terms of cost per item. So, is this an addiction, or merely a mature assessment of paying more for better quality and design?
Ahh, design. Allow me to expound. I don't buy these pieces only because it's designer. I buy it for the design. For the feeling I get when I carry it out. I find that my bags have been an expression of my mood, and where I am emotionally. So whether I'm buying a $2,000 handbag, or a $20 cotton bag, I use them all the same, and love them all equally.
My latest mood falls somewhere between sophisticated professional and young artsy dreamer. I am toggling between my very reliable LV Bucket and a cotton bag from the Tate Modern's Salvador Dalí exhibit.
There is a history with the LV bucket bag. When I first saw a friend carry it in college, I had never heard of Louis Vuitton. Did not know you had to spend hundreds, even thousands for a handbag. When I found out, I thought it was absolutely ludicrous. But something about the shape, the simple brown and tan, the unoffensive message it sent; it really spoke to me. I pined for it for years, but didn't purchase one until I was a year out of college. It made me feel very grown-up. It is still one of my all-time favorite bags, despite the many bags I have accumulated over the years. It is the purse that made me feel like an adult.
The Tate bag is silly, and I don't particularly love the museum or Dalí, or ants, for that matter, but the irreverence made me feel young and magical. I've been asked by several people about the bag. Because it's covered in ants (a theme that appeared in many of Dalí's works), maybe people thought I was just a tad strange. I just love it because it reminds me of London, where I went to for the first time this past summer for my birthday. It was a magical trip (thanks to my honey), and the bag brings me back. Plus, I felt like a true artist, lugging it with me to my precious metal clay art class, a session that I treated myself to this past summer so that I could continue to be creative, despite my very grown-up job. It is the bi-polar in me, to switch between these two bags so effortlessly, and convey a different persona to people who don't know me.
Such is the magic of a handbag.