Rural Living

Some Like It Haute

A Segway Into Couture Culture

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

One true thing about rural living: High-end designer-filled stores are at least a day’s drive away. We are relegated to the normal, everyday department store. And that’s a good thing. I can zip to Belk’s or Peebles for jeans or blouses, and — yes, I’ll confess! — Walmart for Fruit of the Loom. Otherwise, I can drive to Richmond if I’m craving Coldwater Creek or Talbot’s or Williams-Sonoma.

But there’s no need for that; those catalogs come right to my rural mailbox, especially this time of year.

Are you inundated with holiday catalogs? I am. They provide hours of gazing enjoyment, regardless of having just four people on my gift list.

For some unknown reason — demographic, I like to think — a catalog for Saks Fifth Avenue arrived at the end of the driveway this week.

(I should mention that I just returned from a jaunt through New York City. My hotel was quite near Saks Fifth Avenue; I walked past it 20 times, yet never once darkened its doors. We rural girls know darn well when we’re out of our element.)

The thick, glossy catalog only proved my point. The first thing my eyes lit upon was a poncho — yes, a poncho! — by Michael Kors. It cost $24,500. I have not mistyped this figure; the coat sells for more than most folks around here bring home annually. It is, in my opinion, nothing I would buy if I did have the money. It’s a poncho, for heaven’s sake. Never liked them. On one side, it is camel-dyed suede — the type of thing that reminds one of, say, desert boots. It reverses to “brightener-added white mink.” Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot picture myself running into Walmart for undies wearing a white mink poncho.

Many of the absolutely fabulous, or absolutely ridiculous, items in the catalog, by the way, cannot be ordered from the catalog. They must be purchased in-store. The coat, for instance, can be bought only in “select fur salons.” I find the idea of a “fur salon” kind of creepy. Have the paint-splashers of yesteryear abandoned their politically correct pastime?

Perhaps the oddest thing about the Saks catalog is, it seems to revolve around a transportation theme. The stark, white cover has just one photo to lure buyers inside: A Segway. Don’t ask me to explain a Segway. Suffice it to say, it seems a rather silly, not to mention slow, way to travel. The cover proclaims: “I’m going to Saks Fifth Avenue.” On a Segway? Really?

Each mode of transport featured a very long, very lean model clad in very expensive clothing. The first girl wore a $5,000 Armani python-print coat, pleated skirt and five-inch black stilettos and balanced upon — are you ready for this — a skateboard. I saw a lot of strange sights in New York, but nothing like this.

A model sporting saggy knee socks and a mismatched-plaid Marc Jacobs outfit posed on a pedicab. I did see pedicabs in New York. All were manned by goofy college dudes. Another model carried an $875 handbag while she teetered atop a tiny little scooter. Hands down, though, the most utterly ridiculous shot featured a model in black leather jacket ($995) seemingly enjoying traversing Park Avenue on a pogo stick.

Another model “wouldn’t dream of stepping foot into the club without a civilized, ladylike bag.” I guess a $2,000 Chloe handbag is considered civilized in some circles.

But I do wonder how many New York urbanites are planning to plunk down $4,700 for a bulky “diving watch,” even if it is designed by Chanel.

The section devoted to shoes was shot in the subway. I did venture onto the subway in New York. Once. I am glad I was not wearing $700 Stuart Weitzman boots or, God forbid, a pair of $850 leopard print sling-back pumps with five-inch heels. How does one navigate all those stairs in such shoes?

Just so you don’t think I’m full of sour grapes here, I will tell you there were some items I lusted after in the Saks catalog. For instance, there was an amethyst coat to die for, just $750. Too bad it only goes up to size 12.

I found something I could certainly use: anti-age serum by Sisley-Paris. Too bad it costs $500 an ounce.

I did find something I could afford: a lipstick. Just $45!

Wait a minute — didn’t I just see lipstick in Walmart for $6? I think I like that color better.


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