Posted by: Viviana M. Rueda Image | January 21, 2009

Recession, Consumerism & Marie Antoinette?

"Off with Her Head-Marie Antoinette"

"Off with Her Head-Marie Antoinette"

Lately I’ve been reading fashion and celebrity  gossip magazines and I’ve noticed a distinct French Revolutionary theme – You know, the “off with her head” kind of thinking.  It makes sense given the recession that people are more aware of those with restraint or lack thereof.  And because celebrities’ entire lives are blotched onto every media surface known to mankind, well they seem to be our society’s primary target.

Which begs the question – In recessionary times are people, especially famous people, tasked with a duty to show some restraint?  And by restraint, I mean maybe don’t flash your $5 million engagement ring or keep it on the low that you just dropped £10 million on setting up your new household in New York. However, this doesn’t just apply to celebrities.  Look around you, sometimes I wonder what people’s reality is when I hear one person say she doesn’t understand why everyone is up in arms about the market, “it’s not like it’s dropped over 40%, they should be out there shopping, especially for my $250 scarves!”  Reeeally?  And while I’m all for cool, mack-daddy SUV’s (yah, if you live in Evergreen, Colorado and need the all-wheel drive because they have blizzards there!), I have to wonder what the brand new owner of the Cadillac  SUV with at least $30k of after-market customization sitting next to me at a traffic light was thinking.  Is he part of the cast of Entourage maybe?  I guess if I’m thinking this, I wager that others may be thinking the same thing– What message are we sending to each other and the world if we can’t even control our personal spending in an economic time which we’ve never experienced the like of before?  In a world where retirees are looking for work because their retirement plans are in the trash and where it’s not unusual to see news of 30,000 people being laid off.  I just have to wonder.  And then of course, being a bride really brings this home with a resounding “WHAP”.  According to The Knot Americans spend just under $28k on their weddings and many wedding sites recommend that the bride spend 10% of the wedding budget on her dress.  Reeeally?  And they also think it’s reasonable to pay $10/per person for wedding favors and don’t get me started on the wedding stationary.  After an hour of going through wedding sites, it’s enough to make me sick to my stomach.  I’m not kidding.  I feel as though there is a distinct part of the world that is so incredibly out of touch with our financial reality.  So this is my “off with her head” thinking and then I get slapped back into taking responsibility for my own way of living.

Beyonce Fashion Rocks 2008

Beyonce Fashion Rocks 2008 - Dave Alloca/People Magazine

Look it, as a luxury loving Fashionista who is now a Recessionista, I’m not so glib as to sit here and place judgment on those who love luxury.  And by no means will I support beating up on those who work hard, they should be rewarded for it.  And if you work hard for your money then technically you should spend it the way you want to.  Neither do I believe that completely stopping consumer spending will in any way help dig us out of our economic hole – in fact that will take us only deeper into the hole.  BUT “off with her head” is still chasing me around like a cat after its cat nip.  So dear reader, I invite you to reflect on it.  I suppose it comes down to responsibility because the same people sitting in judgment are the ones buying into the billion dollar gossip magazine industry – How else do you think they know about Beyonce’s engagement ring (the upkeep of which probably costs more than that of a bank teller’s yearly salary)?  It seems we are all sitting in it together – We can’t escape our mutual responsibility.  So what role are you playing in our world of rampant consumerism?

And on that note, I’ll share one more thing of interest.  There were a multitude of bare necks at the 2009 Golden Globes. Yes there was bling on many wrists but there was a conspicuous lack of hefty-price tag jewelry on women’s necks.  Iiiinteresting.

Next week I’ll look at the other side of the coin.  Perhaps there is something to be said for a touch of glamour  in this doom and gloom day when every time you open the Wall Street Journal all you see is the drama of the stock market,  more news about corporate gluttony and what other retailer is slashing jobs.

Viviana M. Rueda
La Fashionista (Recessionista for now)



  1. Did you notice the lack of furs at the inauguration…well at least those on the platform. Maybe they had heaters???!

    Love your wit and wisdom Viviana

    • I did! And I was wondering how Michelle Obama managed to avoid frostbite at the inauguration in only that coat/sheath combo, heels and hose. Did SHE have a heater under that outfit is that I want to know!!!

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