Sunday, 13 December 2009

Books and Bokks

Christmas comes but once a year and when it does it brings … the chance of a good laugh. At least to fashion insiders.

I have two publications in front of me. My Favourite Dress, published by The Antique Collector's Guide, is a strange book, a spin-off from an exhibition of the same name in which designers were asked to nominate their favourite dress. A trite idea, but quite an interesting exhibition. But trouble comes when it is gathered in hard covers. Clearly, if a designer is asked to nominate a garment designed by himself, the chances are that it will end as a barely disguised exercise in narcissism. And, of course, it does. Some of the puffs provided by the designers – or their desperate PAs or PR companies – are shamelessly self-serving. OK, we can accept that in the most egotistical profession in the world after acting or being a world sports personality. But what is shocking in My Favourite Dress – and the thing that makes it such a fashion insider's pleasure – is the pictures of the designers themselves. I know all the designers featured here. I see them regularly and I have to say that, almost without exception, their personal pics are works of fiction in themselves. I gasped with amazement at the portraits that were clearly 20 years out of date, and the careful air brushing and retouching of the more recent ones. I know this is a vanity industry, but surely it must try to keep some links with reality? Nobody wants to go down to posterity looking like an abandoned prune or WH Auden after an especially heavy night. But my guess is that this book will have a very short life, entirely lived on a shelf in a bookshop – but one would have thought that a publisher would have tried to give even a silly book some credibility.

Have you heard of Bokks of London? Thought not. Well, they are specialists in luxury mail order (ready for an Edese Doret Boeing business jet, anybody? It's yours for only £85,000,000) for those with very much more money than sense. Their catalogue (far too classy to be called that, of course) is all carefully lit seductive photographs
of items selected more for price than taste level, supported by commentary by superannuated hacks and the likes of Dustin Hoffman and the ubiquitous Karl Lagerfeld, comes in a black cardboard container and weighs rather a lot. In it you will find such essentials as a razor by Hommage at £20,000 (ideal for dad); The Caribbean Chocolate Epic, a five-day trip to Jamaica and an eat-as-much-as-you-like chocolate bonanza for mum (from £90,000) but – and here's the shock - flying only business class; and a treehouse lighthouse (£45,000) for the kids … or Tory MPs! And if that isn't a big enough Christmas spend to impress your Surrey neighbours, you can add on exclusive entertainment for the oldies by the oldies: private gigs by Lenny Kravitz, Tony Bennett or Sting. Prices by negotiation.

Writing this, I wonder if that man of taste Sir Philip Green might be a top Bokks customer. I am sure he would find much to love in these glossy pages. They actually make Harrods look rather like a thrift shop. If this publication landed up in the wrong hands it could cause a revolution that would rival the one the French had a couple of centuries ago. Let them eat cake? Not this time, ducky. Give them diamonds instead.

PS In case you didn't get it, the name means that most items are delivered in a box – black, of course.

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