If you love laughing at cretins-and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?-you are no doubt already a devotee of Sacha Baron Cohen, the 32-year-old Brit comedian whose idiotic cast of characters fills his one-man Da Ali G. Show every Sunday at 11 p.m. on HBO. With his best-known title creation, Mr. Cohen has gone into daring territory: Ali G. is a much-needed, brutal piss-take of the urban hip-hop shtick as adopted by non-blacks. Allegedly hailing from the town of Staines (yes, it really exists), the dopey Ali is, like many hip-hop Eminem poseurs, totally and irrationally fixated on the concept of “respect”-getting it, not getting enough of it, etc. Only he calls it “respek.”
As I guffawed in front of the telly last week, my Da Ali delight was tinged with Rodney Dangerfield–ian sadness: I couldn’t help but reflek on how little respek there was in the world, especially for all you downtrodden consumers out there in the darkness. Enraged and engorged by the injustices which are daily meted out to you, the ordinary woman on the street, I decided to take back the night and pillory a few of the offenders.
Take Maison Louis Vuitton, for example. This season, he/they cruelly tantalized you all with the promise of a life-changing, orgasmic new handbag collection, and then failed completely to deliver the much-hyped bags in a timely and respek-ful fashion. Les bâtards !
The items in question are the result of an utterly brilliant collision, instigated by Vuitton designer and creative director Marc Jacobs, between cartoony Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and the classic L.V. monogram print. The resulting accessories look as if Hello Kitty designed them after dropping LSD at a rave in a duty-free boutique: In other words, they are provocative, gorgeous and totally insane. There is only one problem: The bags do not seem to exist. Merde !
Six weeks ago-before the war and during an orange alert-I popped into the Macy’s Vuitton “shop-in-shop,” expecting to see a tsunami of Murakami. Ads and blathering editorials had been heralding the arrival of the bags since the fall, and now the Vuitton windows around town were bedecked with welcoming Murakami imagery. Quel scandale !
“Where are all those fabulous cartoony bags?” I asked, scanning the shelves of familiar brown merch with beady eyes. “Oh, they won’t be here for a while!” replied the salesgirl, sounding strangely proud, defiant and Rumsfeldian. “We like to build up lots of excitement and anticipation when we launch a new product.” Quoi ? “Don’t you think we have enough stresses and agitations without adding accessories to the mix?” I asked rhetorically, and flounced out.
Three weeks later, I decided to give Louis another chance: I popped into the Fifth Avenue store, the window displays of which were smothered in Murakami motifs (but still no merch), and was directed toward a “look-book.” A throng of multiracial shoppers, all of whom had been driven to a frenzy of tingly anticipation by the L.V. shock-and-awe marketing blitz, were pawing the aforementioned look-book-which, when I finally got to flip through it, turned out to be a very unchic black-vinyl Staples binder with plastic inserts containing Web-site printouts of Murakami. “Our customer is a luxury-goods customer who enjoys ordering stuff,” said the fraught young look-book custodian for what was obviously the millionth time, while taking an order for the $1,690 “Eye Love You” bag (the best shape, and therefore destined to become a classic). “What’s so enjoyable about being told you have to wait 12 weeks for a handbag? Right, girls?!” I Norma Rae’d and ranted, exchanging high fives with a gorgeous black chick who resembled Eve, the beauteous rapper who has been snapped with a Murakami in the crook of her arm on more than one occasion.
“The Murakami bags were a limited edition,” said the salesgirl sadistically. “At this point, we aren’t even sure you can get them at all .”
Not true! The knockoffs are already adorning Canal Street, where consumers are never subjected to the buzz-killing indignities of waiting lists, look-books and four-digit price tags. So, Louis, if you’re reading this, keep making the gorgeous product, but please give us a bit more respek! Stop giving away your merch to a bunch of ungrateful, pampered movie actors and pop slags, and sell it to us . And remember what RuPaul said: “Don’t let yer mouth write checks that yer ass can’t cash!”
Memo to all lucky Murakami recipients: If, after finally getting your long-awaited purse, you find yourself overwhelmed by the sneaking, sinking, horrid feeling that your over-hyped purchase has already gone out of style, shove it in a box and pull it out in about three years. This seems to be about how long it takes for things to become “vintage” these days. À toute à l’heure !