The âDior Addictâ marketing campaign for cosmetics and perfume (werenât there the shirts as well?) launched a few years ago, peddling luxury goods and the accompanying addiction. Christian Dior doesnât use the âAdmit Itâ tagline anymore, but thatâs just as well. Donât admit it. In fact, donât even have a paper trail of the purchase. Shivani Voraâs âMoney Doesnât Talkâ is an article in the New York Times about the growing trend of paying cash for luxury goods among women in order to avoid justifying purchases to husbands, boyfriends or parents. Women are doing this, Vora says, even when itâs their own money that they are spending. Of all the reasons cited for the increase in cash payments at luxury boutiques, hiding an addiction is conspicuously absent.
attacked by a perfume craving on her way to the local needle exchange: Liberty Ross for Christian Dior, circa 2002
ââTraditionally, women are supposed to be altruistic and put others first and arenât supposed to lavish on themselves,â said Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University and an author of âThe Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality.â Women hide their personal purchases to cope with this labeling, she said.â This theory recalls Depression or WWII-era thinking and it applied to both men and women. Though the social script of putting others first may have lingered on through the Baby Boom, it doesnât apply today. In fact, Iâd say that this theory is apologist crap. I have known men who blew irrational amounts of money and tried to hide it, too. This simply suggests a spending problem.
a wartime poster advocating conservation
Last summer my sister found out that her receptionist, DĂ©jĂ , was using company money to buy stuff on the internet. Clothes, mostly. When she was confronted she burst into tears, admitting that her purchasing was out of control and that she was trying in earnest to deal with the problem. The theatrics worked, Iâm sorry to say, and DĂ©jĂ was never prosecuted for her crime because my sister felt the publicity might ruin the career of her high-profile husband. I believe that DĂ©jĂ âs addiction is in its advanced stage: insistence of guilt or regret was a show sheâs probably put on before and Iâm confident she will lock on to another target now that sheâs left town. Guilt, in other words, is a healthy sign that you know itâs wrong to have succumbed to an urge, to have been so easily played. While putting others first doesnât define my gender role anymore, it was and still is batshit crazy for anyone to spend $2000 on a tote.
I confess that in the past Iâve collectively laid down an obscene amount of cash for clothes and felt guilty about it. I donât have those cravings anymore because Iâm confident I can make much of what I see in store windows, and the exercise of browsing is more about admiring craftsmanship than purchasing. When I know how a garment is constructed, Iâm better able to tell the difference between an arbitrarily high price and the itemâs actual value. Recognizing the high value of superior craftsmanship ensures that I wonât be casting off the article as soon as the next seasonâs ad campaigns launch their full-scale assault.
soon to be a must-have: Burberryâs s/s 2007 âSupernova-check bagâ www.style.com
Addiction, however, is hardy and adaptive. It has an insatiable appetite, hijacking common sense in order to run rabid. In the end it doesnât matter whether the goods are on the internet, hanging on a basement sale rack or are cleverly presented in an architecturally significant building. The cycle of buying goods then hiding traces of the purchase is the same old DĂ©jĂ vu trip no matter how itâs packaged.