Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fairy Santas Love to Serve, Lynx Throws to Watch Jersey Shore Under (Catalog Madness)

Feeling spendy. I gave in to a couple tops from Garnet Hill, which really should have put an end to it. But it continues. I rerouted myself to thrift/salvation, thinking that would quench it. No. I want those glossy Franco Sarto shoes, I want utterly ridiculous hedgehog candles from Pottery Barn, I want to graduate myself to a laptop. And yes, through work, I have become an Appleite, so lordy that would be money. I visited the mall a couple days ago to tool around the Apple store and see what the damage would be. It's...damaging. Soon, maybe. I'd need to prostrate myself before my violated savings account. Outside, there was a holding pen for those awaiting iPhone 4Ss. They shuffled their feet, but were otherwise well behaved. I tossed them some broken up biscotti.

Inside the sueded hush of Pottery Barn, they were already in full force Christmas glama. Fake berries and crystalline snowflakes, spa-quality bathrobes and towels made from "hydrocotton" towels. I don't know, I'd just like it to be more cottony.  In the bar things area, they have a fake metal cocktail shaker in the shape of a bulldog, complete with dogtag. You twist off his head for the martini, like so. Only $49. If you liked that, you'll LOVE the silverplated mini top hat bucket (think Monopoly hat, about 8" tall.$49.95 Made in India. Seems kind of obscene, doesn't it?).

But better still are the catalogs. November spells the beginning of catalog waste land. I mean, if you haven't signed up to prevent delivery of all such things, which I haven't, since there are a few I like to receive. And every once in a while, it hits (see above). But the things that emerge from the woodwork...

1. Bed, Bath and Beyond: Adding a little stretch to your day. 
Not so much a holiday entry, but too good to pass up. Have you been yearning to buy a plug-in fake fragrance machine, some sharp(ish) knives, an auto friend pet seat cover AND denim jeggings, all without re-parking the car? You're in luck.
Denim jeggings. Come and get 'em, fry 'em up hot.
2. Ballard Designs: we're like Pottery Barn, but more fun! Who cares about Pottery Barn? This falls into woodwork emergence, definitely.

A.) First, we have the wall of urethane antlers, set on top of ornate, vaguely French plaques. While I get a kick out of some of those fake animal/beastie heads created by various crafters, falling along different ends of the cute-creepy spectrum, these are too generic, spare and, well, just strange in a way I haven't been able to put my finger on. I want to recreate the unfortunate slain animal about the bone bits. The text, in part reads: "Ateliar Antlers: The more you hang, the more impressive they look." I beg to differ. See for yourself.

B.) A lesser offence, really. "Driftwood tree: These hand assembled trees are a fun way to add the look of natural driftwood to your holiday decor. Whitewash finish makes the 'branches' look like they're dusted with snow. Expect delightful variations."  I like how the text implies that homemakers are, at this very moment, seeking out ways to add driftwood into their decor. Maybe some are. they probably are. Would they choose these? The look to me like extremely old oversized taffy bits, smooshed together by an unfortunate individual; and now it is the craft recipient that is unfortunate. Joyeux Noel!

3. Frontgate. Do you have (some) money, but are not OF money? Do you have strange notions of class and elegance? The Gate is Open.

A.)What's better than Santa? Fairy Santas, who have stolen jesters' shoes. They will hold your stockings, but I really wouldn't trust them. Only $129. each.

B.)Sure, that's good. But what's better than Fairy Santas? Their "exclusive 'It's 5 o'clock somewhere' Fairy." 5OSF has shades of Santa, but is more about frolicking inebriation. A steal at $49.50 (without stand).

C.) What if I want *some* drinking in my tchotchke, but with less shades of alcoholism? You need Butler Santa (my name). Butler Santa is my favorite. How can we make the house merrier AND hammer home that we like to live well? "Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams Santa." While he had originally intended to sleigh it around the world, pleasing and freaking out kids, just this once, he's okay standing to the side, filling up your bubbly. Break out the mother of pearl utensils! Blitzen's in the kitchen and you haven't had blinis until you have had Blitzen's blinis...

D.) How could it possibly get better? Throw in a polar bear butler! Truly, everyone is at your service. Only $749. Plus, while ice cap comes in a bowler, "the included Santa hat makes your bear festive for Christmas." Whew, glad that's taken care of.

Two mirthful servants in one photo! Bonus ice bat.
4.) Restoration Hardware: Could you add a scosche of gruesome to my posh? I'll gladly pay.

They normally don't bother to send anything my way, because they rightly suspect I can't afford them. But for the holidays they'll make an exception. I have the general impression they're a little more old school than Pottery Barn, a little higher end; they can come in with classical looking things (yeah, you see where my knowledge falls off~) but they mix it up in daring ways -- STRONG design sense. Ornate chandeliers, hanging inside birdcages. Rather cool, if one had high ceilings and money to toss. Truly, I'd probably toss some at them.
But this gift catalog...It just hits me wrong. Catalog subtitle: WRAP THE SEASON IN FUR. Sub-sub title: THE LUXE FUR THROW. Really? In this day and age? I'm no purist -- I eat meat, I wear leather shoes and have a couple vintage items with fur on them. So cast no stone, right. And yet... Your choices are lynx, mink, Arctic fox or coyote. You can get them as throws, pillow covers, blankets, water bottle cozies, booties, mittens, Russian hats. As bean bag chairs. Naturally the furniture-ish items are more. But the throws measure 50"x60" and are already priced at a discounted $79 (vs. $99) at the beginning of the season. That's a good hunk of animal, for such a low price! So they are simultaneously selling extravagant luxury and ALSO making it bargain basement cheap (relatively speaking, it's no trip to Value World), rendering it an *almost* thoughtless purchase. 

I know my thinking here is muddy, which likely shows a combination of mental laziness and discomfort, but these are my reactions:                                                          A.) Do we really need to be broadening the use of fur here? It's such a shame that there are no super soft, super warm synthetic sofa blankets to snuggle under these days. Nothing means luxury like a pelt?                     B.) In many cases pricing such things to move, move, move...drives home the lack of respect for animal life here. Granted the biggest "disrespect" is naturally the kill itself, but to then say AND it will barely put the consumer out also encourages a ....throw-away purchase...for a throw selling for less than $100. Too, this means that the people within this chain -- those doing the messy work, before the fur eventually makes its way to RH distribution -- are getting very little money, right? I cringe to think how little one lynx or coyote "costs" in order to eventually get a pillow case or hot water bottle for $30.  I know I could be ripped to shreds for my middling and inconsistent position, from either further end of the spectrum. It just feels egregious, utterly distasteful.

Moving on to less contentious pages of the catalog, we have "Gifts for the Executive."

NOT SILLY PUTTY. Thinking putty. Hahaha!
...And on that many-bladed note, I'm signing off. May you have a glorious week...


  1. Love that you did a whole post on what typically runs through my mind when looking at the vast stacks of shallow consumeristic tomes lining my mailbox.

    I tell my self to look away when retrieving the mail and make a bee line for the trash -- but no, I can't help myself -- I want to see how they will create and then pander to my sense of self-grandeur. It's an interesting sociological study -- and I gleefully participate in the internal mind dialogue.

    Yes, hate the antler atelier (though I do generally like to peruse Ballards) -- definitely hate all things Restoration Hardware of late - could they be any more out of touch? Seriously -- anyone with the money needed to order from them isn't going to be buying the multi-blade scissors, they're gong to opt for the electrified versions readily available at the local Staples – No? (Or is that not highbrow enough?) Anyway I don't know what Restoration Hardware is trying to do -- but it ain't working. (Apparently the head honcho used to work at PB -- looks like he's trying to simply come up with something in the next income bracket? Only slightly different with a monochromatic dimly lit color palette -- as if that's supposed to look expensive? It just looks like you need to up your script for Xanax along with any order you intend to place.) And the fur stuff... just odd.

    I actually asked to be put on Anthropologie's catalog list – their irreverence to the typical catalog formula is interesting to me - but I wonder how sustainable it really is (I still like to see the attempt). And Frontgate? That just looks like Kmart/Sears on steroids to me.

    Was admiring some of the smaller quirky stuff in Pottery Barn this weekend (rare trip to the mall), and found an interesting table platter styled like a flattened sleigh (iron and wood) – but $100 for such whimsy? Just to hold your Kroger cheese cubes? (Guessing though that you’d probably put nothing less than an aged Irish Cheddar or a really nice round of French Brie.) And you’d have to have a really large table if you still wanted room for your guests and more practical table affairs such as the salt and pepper shaker. (But I’m sure they also offer the perfect giantscaped table to go with the platter and the bulldog shaker, the top hat and the stag head stoppers – I just don’t have the perfect castle.)

    Now what would really be fun would be to see an Anthropolgie styled catalog for Value Village/World – and if you wait a few years, you might even see a slightly scratch wooden sleigh platter serving double duty as a cat bed; and an old fur pelt would make it all that much cozier I'd imagine. Ah the misplacement of American values, just a mailbox away.

  2. Whew, your comment is a post! It's such fun territory to explore...and on a less analytical note, I just love Anthropologie's style. I wonder what the frequency is of people maxing out their credit cards these days. I imagine it's more likely to happen from people charging groceries at this point than for tchochtkes, but I also probably way underestimate how much stoopid charges go on the cards...