That Tacky Dame, Sara Lee

My mouth hit the floor. I had to find something to hold on to as I recovered from the shock. Who would have thought? At once I was stunned…my gut feelings were, once again right on track. But still, who would of thought?

Not only are they ugly, they’re owned by Sara Lee. I wouldn’t ever dream of eating her pastries, why would I carry her purse? I just found out that Coach is owned by Sara Lee—the pound cake and pesticide maker.

I have an addiction. I’ve been able to white knuckle it, and keep it in check since getting married. After all, it is something I do keep from my husband, are at least make every concerted effort to do so.

I am addicted to handbags. I know this isn’t that uncommon a malady. Some are turned on by shoes—true, I once flirted with a brief craving for Jimmy Choos…and there was that one day, when I was walking in Paris and, I turned down the Rue St. Honore, only to find myself sitting in a shoe salon trying on a pair of ankle boots lined in chinchilla. True, it was freezing outside, and my word, my feet had never been so warm or so cute, but the price was just too hard to justify—I could have bought a car AND rented a condo in Paris for the price of the bottines—I left the store, I mean, the ‘salon,’ with a sigh as I waved adieu to the boots. But had the object of affection been a handbag, who knows where I’d be today…no doubt homeless, in Paris but with really good accessories.

This addiction started early. I was about seven when I got my first handbag…a cute black patent leather envelope style purse with a velvet bow on the flap. Very Audrey. I carried my purse everywhere. I had a small pink kisslock coin purse in the shape of a monkey’s head, a pink comb, my bus token, and depending on my mood, a small doll or stuffed animal—my favorite was a tiny furry tiger that wore overalls. The contents were important, but it was the handbag that propelled me to the grown up world.

I was in high school when I received my first Chanel—Iconic quilted lambskin and gold chain. To this day, it still looks brand new and of course, is still a classic. To me, Chanel is the gold standard of handbag style: European and chic without calling attention to itself. Much of its cache is that Chanel bags are not for everyone—nothing is more of a style killer than democracy. They aren’t even replicated as often as other designers—a Chanel bag isn’t flashy like a Louis Vuitton—a designer that seems more Ghetto chic than most. Even I prefer to carry my Stephan Sprouse for more ‘funkier’ everyday errands.

The problem with designer handbags is that so many people carry copies of the real thing that the joy of carrying the real thing is diminished. One could easily assume your Gucci Pelham is just a good copy—or that Prada is a fake. Besides, even if it were real, why would you want to look like everyone else?

Coach handbags in particular, come to mind. When I walk downtown, four out of seven purses in San Francisco are a Coach. I always thought a double C signified Chanel…instead, the C signifies middle class sturdiness and a designer purse that mom would love.

The other day, in a moment of weakness, I found myself asking, “What is this thing called Coach?” I wandered into the Coach store in downtown San Francisco…I started sniffing around. Hmmmm? Salon-like atmosphere. Check. Lots of glass and silver. Check. Deep pile carpeting. Check. The ubiquitous techno-vibe music. Check. But the mood killer was the sales girl…I felt like a chew toy trapped in the maw of an overfed albeit rabid terrier. This dear girl kept proffering handbags that I just had to try. I just had to, she gushed. I prefer the surly girls over at Prada who totally ignore me and kind of sneer when I pay. This affect is merely a ruse to scare off the weak, the ones who really shouldn’t be wearing Prada…the tough few who aren’t intimidated are the chosen. I always leave feeling victorious.

At Coach, the prices were good…for half the price of a Barbara Bui, I could walk out with their latest model. Not only that, but for a tad more money, I could add a Coach accessory: a key fob or a scarf! Really?

There was something inflated about Coach—too many of them were out there. This was a designer for the masses. I just had to hop on the subway to see moms going back to the suburbs clutching their designer, I mean, Coach handbag as they rode home to their hubby and kids. I politely declined the salesgirl’s ministrations. I was totally confused. There was nothing overtly unique…perhaps, that’s the hook…in fact it is…A coach purse is the illusion of luxury that everyone can afford.

Sorry. I’ll stick to my ancient but wearing nicely, Hermes and Bottega Venetas…

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 3:53 AM  Comments (1)  
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