It’s lost on me. Completely. When you live in Zurich, for any length ot time, you cannot help but grow tired of that monogram, or even worse, their Damier pattern, it’s positively everywhere, or to use college talk, it’s downright ubiquitous. Ubiquitous to such a degree that it makes you want to run away, or to get blind, or just have more vodka, depends on the time of day. Anyway, one day, I needed Louis Vuitton’s San Francisco City Guide when writing an article on interior designer Jonathan Rachman who happens to be mentioned in it, well, mentioned is actually a sheer understatement, they did praise him in it, and so I wanted a photo of the guide for my blog. The next day, I had to go to Louis Vuitton on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse, and instead of being appalled, I was amazed, first by their windows, some cute white ermines presented a black attaché case, just black leather, no pattern at all, then by a clutch, also black, this time in cuir épi, but most intriguingly, with an owl on it, both really beautiful, stunning even, what can I say, apparently it’s not Louis Vuitton’s fault that the Swiss all buy the very same stuff, and why nobody has bought one of these bags is beyond me, I really don’t get it, I absolutely loved that owl clutch, and, truth be told, that monogram canvas looks really good on the suitcases, I think, I need one, so much better than these black or silver ones everybody seems to have, they’re so very ubiquitous.
I have a thing for green things. First of all British racing green. And then trees of course. Especially the evergreen ones. Or when they insist on losing their leaves, the ivy covered ones, totally overgrown by this special sort of ivy with these beautifully pompous big leaves, blossoming in late summer, attracting flies and bees and wasps and all kinds of little flying things, I just love that, but I think I digress, actually I wanted to talk about my green briefcases. I bought both of them only because they were green. Taiga green the first one. Louis Vuitton. Bought it in 2000 in Hamburg. I remember that, quite idiotically, I had to take a taxi to make it on time to Hamburg’s Louis Vuitton store on Neuer Wall before closing time as I couldn’t wait another day for that briefcase. It’s turning 17 this year and, as it will soon leave me for some Ivy League college, I had to find a replacement. This time I had to travel to Paris – Zurich, however grand the Swiss love to think it is, has no Goyard store – and went directly to 352, rue Saint-Honoré where I picked their Senat clutch, while some cute dog and his mistress were trying on a variety of collars. For some odd reasons my credit cards weren’t working on that day, overstraining maybe, so I had to pay in cash, more embarrassingly so as the local ATM on rue Saint-Honoré spilled out nothing but small notes, really small notes, twenty euro notes, do you know how many twenty euro notes it takes to pay for a green Goyard Senat clutch? Lots of them, vast amounts, believe you me. Anyway, my clutch and I had a coffee on rue de Rivoli afterwards and have been inseparable ever since. Where is it actually? I think my lighter is still in it.
Imagine a fiftysomething gardener, a slow minded and illiterate gardener, retarded even, who has worked all his life in a wealthy family’s Washington town house’s garden, cared for it with the greatest attention possible, and kept it blossoming and blooming for decades. Imagine that gardener now being laid off, his employer dead, the attorneys have put him on the streets. What do you expect him to look like? Broke. Miserable. Shabby. You’re sadly mistaken.
That gardener may stray through Washington without any destination, completely lost, but he’s wearing a double-breasted coat and a three-piece suit from a distinguished New York tailor, handmade from the finest cloth, supreme distinction, the kind of cashmere that glistens in the sun, with silky suppleness, I only encountered that refinement once in Paris, in the eighth arrondissement, near Parc Monceau, on a gentleman leaving one of those stately buildings that only take in swish attorneys or an old kingdom’s ambassador, but I digress, as I was saying, our gardener’s outfit is particularly exquisite, from head to toe, his silk tie shows a pattern that practically screams old money, and he’s carrying a shiny crocodile suitcase that makes those by Louis Vuitton look like a very sad approach to luxury, and while he’s loitering without any intent, his destiny is settled. 125 minutes later he’s going to be the next president of the United States. In 1979, this ending must have come as a surprise to the audience, but as sarcastic as it was, its social criticism is from a bygone age, it’s out of date, or worse, it makes us realize how times have changed. In those days, some style still made the man. Today, you don’t need even that.
Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine in Hal Ashby’s masterpiece “Being There” from 1979.