I’ve never found the concepts of luxury and socialism to be mutually exclusive. Freddy Engels’ son-in-law called him “the great beheader of Champagne bottles,” so I’d argue the Left has a noble history of pleasure and indulgence. What I do object to is the terms by which we define “luxury” under capitalism. There are certain obvious factors that tend to make a good, product or service “precious.” If materials required are scarce or difficult to obtain, there should perhaps logically be an increase in price, but again, while the bourgeoisie retains monopolies and fixes prices (like in the diamond trade, for example), artificial scarcity can inflate prices to unconscionable heights.
There is also dear old Karl‘s Labor Theory of Value, which states that value is to be measured by the labor required to produce it. Again, this seems reasonable, but it’s clearly not reflected in wage labor or commodity pricing. In art, value is further complicated, as price is affected by very subjective factors, like “historical significance” (or speculation thereof) and “innovation.” (Not to mention social connections!) Once more, under capitalism, it’s the bourgeoisie that decides what is/will be historically significant, and it’s the bourgeoisie that decides what is innovative. This is why Jeff Koons can fart in a jar and sell it to a tacky-ass Greek billionaire for more than twenty times what you make in a year.
Also from the Moschino show. Take it one step further and dress like you work at an ultra chic McDonald’s!
Now, disregarding what I believe should be used to determine a justifiable price, let me point you to this $1,050 Happy Meal-inspired purse. I suppose it’s entirely possible that the bag is made from the leather of a rare sacred cow, or that it was hand-sewn by arthritic seamstresses, requiring countless hours to complete, but I have a hunch this is just another case of rich people being gullible fools—the luxury interpretation of “low-culture” is undoubtedly the most ignoble of bourgeois aesthetics. I suppose you could argue the bag is innovative, but only if you know absolutely nothing about fashion or kitsch—the lunchbox purse is practically a classic at this point, and I remember very vividly when these were the ubiquitous handbag for the artier Junior High School girls.
No, this purse, which comes from Moschino’s fall line, is simply an ironic joke about wealth of its owner—they’re paying for the laugh, the irreverence, and the sly wink that says, “Oh, I’m not like one of those rarefied rich people, I burn my glut of cash on dumb shit! Dumb shit that evokes a billion-dollar empire built on garbage food and poverty wages!” I saw shots of the Moschino fashion show that debuted the “Happy Eats Handbag” earlier in the year, but with its “low-culture”/service employee theme, I just assumed it was one of those high concept “runway-shows-as-art-exhibits” affairs, where very little of the line was actually, literally reproduced and sold as ready-to-wear.
Never underestimate the uninspired “zany” blandness of wealth. If you’re feeling cheap, but still want to luxuriate in poverty aesthetics, there are other options. The line also includes a Cheetos knock-off sweater for $750, or even McDonald’s-inspired iPhone case for $85.
That’s right boys and girls, for a trifling $85, you too can laugh along with the wealthy tastemakers!