Today's Thursday Styles brings Critical Shopper Alexandra Jacobs to the latest entry in midtown Manhattan's parade of Brand Palaces, Valentino's new flagship. It's fitting that Fashion Week gets kicked off with a visit to the latest home of one of fashion's grandest couture (or, in this case, alta moda) houses, but it turns out to be something of a perfunctory survey in which our shopper falls into the common trap of sticker shock, particularly when encountering an expensive, camouflage festooned men's accessory.
“Wow, though — a $2,000 knapsack,” I marveled, and he laughed uneasily. In an era of grade-school metal detectors, such an expensive appropriation of army print felt overfraught.
Well, sure. There is something slightly creepy about the preponderance of military patterns in an era when we our nation's military is constantly facing new challenges, but camo prints reached critical mass seasons ago, and though their popularity has not appeared to have faded as one might have expected, it should no longer be surprising to see them in a luxury setting. In fact, there is no shortage of $2,000 knapsacks in New York City. You can probably find at least one or two in Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta or any of the other luxury brand stores on Fifth Avenue, and probably several more between Saks, Bergdorf's and Barneys without making too much effort. They have become, if not commonplace, than at least abundant. Besides that, it's Valentino. We know everything is going to be absurdly, inaccessibly expensive in that store. Even later on, during the obligatory try-on of lavish clothes, we know our shopper has no intention of purchasing anything even if she is impressed or even a little tempted by what she puts on. She's as much of a tourist there as if she came in from Peoria for a weekend in the Big City.