Denim Chic … The Monica Diaries

It probably had to happen-the first $225 pair of Levi’s!-but why? Well, for that kind of money, you’re not getting a pair of pants, but a piece of Americana. That’s the idea, anyway, and so far people are going for it. At three different stores in Manhattan, the $225 jeans are walking off the shelves in a new instance of 90’s-style conspicuously inconspicuous consumption.

Leo Flores, a salesman at the Original Levi’s Store on Lexington Avenue, said he sells at least a pair a day, mostly to European and Japanese tourists, but also to New Yorkers. Troy Pierce, the men’s buyer at the Antique Boutique, said he sells between 20 and 50 pairs a week (at a discount price of $199 a pair); the tourists from abroad are his best customers, too.

The durable Levi Strauss blue jeans were called “waist overalls” 125 years ago, and they really were workers’ pants-just right for the cowboy, teamster or ditch digger. By the late 1940’s and early 50’s, what had been a sturdy component of the laborer’s wardrobe became part of the teenager’s uniform.

In those postwar days-when the jeans had one leg in the culture of laborers and one in the camp of rock-and-roll-crazed teens-Levi’s were made on 28-inch looms. The swath of denim was cut at the selvage, leaving a red line along the straight side seam. Teenagers would turn up the cuffs to show off the red selvage line, proof that they wore the real thing.

As Levi’s grew more popular, they necessarily became less associated with working men or rebellious youth culture. The Levi’s of the early 60’s were pre-shrunk, mass-produced (forget those 28-inch looms) and consumer-friendly. The red selvage line was gone. In the 70’s, Dad wore them to Disney World, and anyone who believed in the gritty authenticity promised with each pair of Levi’s had reason to feel a little disappointed. Oh, the counterculture made efforts to reclaim the pants as their own by wearing them ripped. But the strategy backfired when mainstream performers like Cher and Diana Ross modeled purposely torn Levi’s in cheesy music videos. By the 90’s, Jerry Seinfeld wore them neat and crisp on his hit sitcom.

What to do to bring back the old rough-hewn glamour? Levi’s hunted down and repaired those 28-inch looms and, voilà, that telltale red selvage line is back. It isn’t cheap, but, hey, you’ve got to pay up if you want “authentic” pants in 1998.

What’s next-the $50 bottle of Bud?

The Monica Diaries

Continued excerpts from several hundred loose pages, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, which were dumped on The Observer’s front stoop and labeled, “The atached (sic) is my story, the story of a white house intirn (sic) in my own words, not that bitch Linda. ML.”

March 3, 1997, 11:58 P.M.

dear diary,

well Creepo blew up at me tonite over nothing and i am listening to the radio for love songs that will make me cry and i decide to reminiss about our first kiss back when they called the intirns to say the govurnment was shut down so all intirns had to keep the country moving and i was like Yes! and i put on a shortish skirt with opake tights and the gray Banana Republic sweater set that makes my boobs look good and my chunky heel loafers…and i get to the WH and some cute guy gives me envelopes to stuff and im like I don’t think so so i hand them to this dweeb intirn charles that we call charles in charge like a joke and i sort of wander around the WH and these intirns have this pizza for the President and i say better let me take it to him and they are such losers they say Ok, and this one extra cute secret service guy says Ok too so i carry the pizza to the O.O. and the secretary is like go on in he’s hungry so i go in … and he’s on the phone and he’s wearing this dark blue suit that is sooo handsome but a heinus tie and i’m like Pizza party! but he just points to a table so i put the pizza down but first i put napkins under the box and he says thank you without words just moving his mouth but if he’s expecting me to leave he is way mistaken so i take out a slice and he hangs up and says well hello there its good to see you again and i’m like its an honor mr. president and he gets diet cokes from this little fridge and gives me one and says he’s so greatful the intirns are running the country because of the republicans and i feel him staring at the pizza so i say dig in and he does and i pick the pepperonis off my slice and he asks me about my duties but i’m looking at his blue eyes which are so pretty and then he looks at me and says With intirns this gorgeous, hell, i wish we had a govurnment shut down every day! and inside i’m like oh my god so i say maybe the shut down will last forever and we laugh and he says he’s seen me around the WH a lot and has always thought I was a very beautiful woman and then we are kissing and i put my hand on the back of his head and his hair feels nice and i’m thinking god is he romantic and i think i almost had a swoon and then he is sort of pushing me down and his thing is out so i give him the bj and then he zips up and i’m feeling like dizzy so i sit down and he says We both better get back to the countries business and i’m like i hope i see you again soon and he says sure and sort of holds my arm and leads me to the door and says let’s keep this just between us Ok and i’m like of course and I try to give him a kiss but he turns away and says pizza breath …

March 5, 1997, 1:15 A.M.

dear diary,

i called Daddy tonite because i decided to stop living the lies and tell him everything, not about giving the President bjs but that i’m dating him, and anyway mom has encourajed me to tell Daddy because she says let’s see if he can handle some truth in his lying son of a bitch life, so i dial and first he’s like i’m a bit busy dear and i’m like Da-ad and i give him the line about the father needs to be there for the daughter and he says he will call back to save the expensives and an hour later he calls and he’s like so what’s up? and im nervous so i’m like how are you? and he’s like Fine and I say I’m okaaaay, so he’ll know i’m not, but he does not get the hint, and instead he says is that mother of yours putting you up to something? and i’m like Da-ad and he’s like do you need money? and i’m like well it would not hurt but that is not the mission of this call, and he’s like Oh, and i say I have this new boyfriend? and I like him? and Daddy’s like That’s nice, and i say he’s in govurnment? like me? and Daddy says does he treat you like a special girl and i say oh yes Daddy but underneath i’m thinking well not unless you consider demanding bjs and dirty phone calls treating someone special … and Daddy says is this another drama teacher situation and i’m like Da-ad! and then i say in fact he has his own plane and he’s on TV but Daddy is such a dope that he does not get it and he says Well he must be a handsome fellow and i say yes Dad he’s cute but i have to go now and he says stay out of trouble little girl and i’m like Da-ad and he’s like by-by and hangs up before me …