Friday, November 18, 2011

Socialite economics

On one end of the philanthropic spectrum, there's voluntarily living like a grad student. On the other, there's Muffie Potter Aston. The money she spends on handbags alone - or, I should say, the handbags she mentions wearing in one week - could [insert charitable goal here].

And I normally don't go in for that kind of argument. If the delightfully-named socialite is helping legitimate causes, why shouldn't she have some fun? Isn't it better for her to put money back into the (French luxury handbag) economy than to just direct it towards keeping future generations of Astons in the upper class? And maybe this is like a business expense, maybe to do good, to get rich friends to contribute, she needs to maintain her image, and that means head-to-toe ostrich-leather. And I don't think that people (men, typically*) who never much liked "stuff" to begin with get extra good-person points for staying away from the mall, which they'd do whether they were generous to causes or not.

But this woman is wearing the GDP of several first-world countries every day of the week. Is the problem that she's doing so while also claiming to be a philanthropist? The entire "charity circuit" concept, in which however much goes to whichever causes, some no doubt greater amount is going to the galas and the primping for said galas?

Or is it (also) that if I had that kind of clothing budget, there would be closets-full of galaxy dresses, custom-made Yves Klein blue Repetto Zizis (because this Jil Sander version is close but not quite), and each of the fluourescent satchels (except for the orange one)? Her clothing budget appeals (although I suspect my wanties wouldn't make a dent); her selections not so much.

*I showed my husband the article and had to explain that "Birkins" are not related to Birkenstocks or burqas. Although there's no doubt some woman, somewhere, sporting all three.


kei said...

I wonder if there's supposed to be something laudable about her former profession vs. her current one. If there's an "opposite" of running around doing nothing but charity work, then it might be working for Van Cleef & Arpels. The other thing is, I googled her name and she seems to be pretty well-known, and some profile I pulled up noted explicitly that her husband is a plastic surgeon, that she has a "sky-high hairline," that she gets a lot of work done, and that she had twins through a surrogate mother. So I wonder if there's a lot of half-making fun of, half-realizing you can't really judge her/you wouldn't give up that life if you had it/etc., buzz about her that you're supposed to know, and this article is just like the cherry on top. She tells us where she gets her clothes, and we can do the rough math, and we laugh and cry at once for a variety of reasons.

Phoebe said...


Between her old job and her husband's job, yes, these are extremes - heights of super-obvious materialism and, as if to cancel that out/make it OK, a no less ostentatious focus on charity. I mean, expensive diamonds and cosmetic surgery - these are not people with hippie do-gooder sensibilities.

But I think you're absolutely right re: the brazen refusal to apologize for who she is. I had known about her before this (it's a memorable name!), but even those not already aware of her would get the gist of what she's about. She owns it, in every possible sense of the expression.