The Murakami Vuitton Handbag Scandal
April 30, 2003 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Recipe for Success, French-Style: Take one quirky Japanese pop artist; mix with one trendy New York designer; shake in rip-off French leather merchant and add streetwise celebrity . Finally, importantly, make resulting concoction completely unavailable. Result: Madness ensues. How un-American can it be to lay down over 2000 dollars for a cartoony handbag you can't even get your hands on? [Flash req.]
posted by Schweppes Girl (19 comments total)
[N.B. Rewritten and wired for my wife by me; no editorial interference at all. For the record, I disagree, though not allowed to comment.] ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:40 PM on April 30, 2003

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
posted by plexi at 7:50 PM on April 30, 2003

My own suspicion is that LSVM, the French luxury goods conglomerate that also owns Moet et Chandon and Gucci, actually relies on the counterfeit and replica trade, massive in Asia to help build up the hype so they can sell their Vuitton accessories for a fortune.

I mean why else would they announce the Murakami/Jacobs bag so far in advance and make all the designs available, when, according to The New York Observer's Simon Doonan (see link above), the staff at Vuitton NY say that the bags may never be available.

Confession: I'm ashamed to say I'd buy one, for 200 bucks tops.
posted by Schweppes Girl at 7:58 PM on April 30, 2003

Not my bag.
posted by sharksandwich at 7:59 PM on April 30, 2003

The latest rag rags (if you'll indulge my punnery) have been full of pages of ads for these bags. I'm both tickled to death to find out they're practically a hoax, and also really sickened--I prefer the idea of high fashion as art, and really don't care for the hypey commercialism, particularly when it comes to the old houses like LV, Chanel, Dior, etc.

On the other hand, this is what sells the perfume, which is what keeps the petits mains of the couture houses in work.
posted by padraigin at 9:36 PM on April 30, 2003

Yikes. This one is going for 3k - so far.

I have never understood this business of paying amazing amounts for a bag. Especially when you can buy a knockoff for $15. Why? Why? It's mystifying.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:39 PM on April 30, 2003

Why just bags, Cunning? Can anyone explain to me a rational reason why someone would pay anything in the thousands of dollars for any article of clothing, be it a suit or a gown or whatever? Or is just like professional sports salaries, where the only real answer is because "there's people out there willing to pay it."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:47 PM on April 30, 2003

$2k - um, nope! If I am going to be decadent, I'd rather spend the of money in one of those swanky hotels discussed in your last thread.

But some of the art work is quite fun and it's always fun to read about the wacky world of high fashion.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:56 PM on April 30, 2003

madamjujujive: that was my main link. Originally, I mean. How on earth did it find its way to you? I wondered where it had gone! :)

What really confounds me, though, is that so many European products (I think Herm├ęs's so-called "Kelly" bag was the first) are deliberately underproduced - sometimes at great cost - just to make demand outstrip supply.

In this case, it looks like unproduced.
posted by Schweppes Girl at 10:06 PM on April 30, 2003

That bag was great about six months ago. Luckily I prefer shoes.
posted by oh posey at 10:08 PM on April 30, 2003

XQUZYPHYR, there's not much other than hype to explain why people are willing to pay so much for things like this purse--if it goes into production on even a limited basis, it will be so knocked off that it really won't be worth much intrinsically. Much easier to explain why women are willing to pay $10k for a couture suit or up to $100k for a gown: couture clothing is quite literally buying art.

People do like to have ways of showing off their money though, and a $2k purse is like a luxury car in that respect. A Hyundai will get you there with a better warranty, so will a nice respectable handbag from Sears. But will they get you there in style...?

On preview: I still dream of a Kelly bag. And mean to have one, custom made and all. Damn it.
posted by padraigin at 10:12 PM on April 30, 2003

People do like to have ways of showing off their money though, and a $2k purse is like a luxury car in that respect. A Hyundai will get you there with a better warranty, so will a nice respectable handbag from Sears. But will they get you there in style...?

Not just that. Some people appreciate the fit an finish of a quality product, the fine materials used, the general refinement. While I don't know anything about purses, I do know that a BMW or Mercedes is going to be much better in almost every quantitative and qualitative way than a Hyundai.
posted by gyc at 10:49 PM on April 30, 2003

Wait a minute... that's not the recipe for success for a handbag. I'm pretty sure it's the recipe for
posted by crunchland at 11:23 PM on April 30, 2003

these bags are just like sports cars; no doubt the lucky few owners of murakami bags are endowed with very small ding-dongs. If you know what I mean.
posted by mokujin at 12:51 AM on May 1, 2003

I saw Murakami when he was in Boston a couple years ago; there were two rooms full of his work at the MFA for a few months prior. He gave a two-hour long talk on pop art, commercial culture, and animation. He's very much a Warhol-meets-Manga formalist...

After the talk, when people were crowded around getting his autograph, I yelled "So how does it feel to be a rock star?" And everybody laughed, including the man himself, and then went on about their happy business.

He works in the medium of vapidity. Teletubbies meet Hello Kitty, dancing together to nameless techno music atop a giant Campbell's soup can. He offers a lot of problems to we who deal in deconstruction (what does identity mean in a world where a Hello Kitty! spin-off is high art?), but since he poses very few direct questions (among them is sexuality of the Otaku), I don't know that he'll get across to anyone outside the academic art circles as anything but a maker of pretty pictures.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:14 AM on May 1, 2003

couture clothing is quite literally buying art.

I'm with XQUZYPHYR on this. At least art you can hang on your wall or set up on the lawn or whatever. Thousands of dollars for something you wear once or twice? Feh.

The other interesting thing is how tiny the group is that you're showing off for. I mean, if I saw a Lamborghini go by, I might admire it and recognize that it cost a mint and so on. But until this post, if i had seen someone with this little silly bag, it would never have crossed my mind that it was a status symbol that would have paid my rent for a couple of months. (Oh crud. That reminds me, it's the first today.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:26 AM on May 1, 2003

The "fashion" industry is one that celebrates and thrives on vapidity, and the overweening attitudes that seem to go with it are incredibly irritating to me. Although it is amusing to see those people dressed head-to-toe in Burberry plaid...they look like complete prats.
posted by Vidiot at 7:23 AM on May 1, 2003

These are very nice, and a much better deal, I'm sure you'd agree. :)

And, what Vidiot said, although it was not thus In The Beginning...
posted by plep at 9:59 AM on May 1, 2003

Jebuz onna stick...people just amaze me sometimes...
posted by dejah420 at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2003

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