Sunday, December 23, 2012

Real Deal Holyfield

After much dithering, dilly-dallying, dawdling and delay, I bit the bullet and bought what may or may not be a Pucci.

I mean, theoretically Real Deal Holyfield could actually be the real deal, Holyfield.

But what if it's not? Does it make a difference?

First of all, I know exactly one person who knows or cares what a real Pucci looks like, and she bought a dress from the same discount website that I did. (The process can be a little labor-intensive, but they exist and you will get your merchandise.) To everyone else, it just looks like one of my dresses, albeit with a fancier belt. Does it count as counterfeit if its authenticity doesn't count to anyone?

There's a possibility that it's real, that it's just overstock that some enterprising worker along the line squirreled away. A different ethically questionable action altogether. Another possibility: one of the factories that Pucci contracts out to sets aside irregular garments instead of destroying them.

Would those dresses be real or fake Puccis?

In his book The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, Dan Ariely describes an experiment in which women who thought they were wearing fake designer sunglasses cheated on a test at over twice the rate of women who knew their sunglasses were genuine. Which, given the sea of counterfeit designer goods I swim through on the streets of Manhattan, made me fear a little bit for the future of this country, and also my own soul.

That is why I compulsively qualify any statements about Real Deal Holyfield with a series of disclaimers, all of which you will find above. Does it still count as being dishonest if I say to anyone who compliments my dress, "I don't know if it's real, probably not, I bought it at 90% off from a Chinese website"?

In general, I can't feel too bad about the rampant counterfeiting of luxury brands (the withering away of a generation's conscience aside). The brands brought it upon themselves when they stopped focusing on quality and started focusing on plastering their logos all over everything. If your trademark is an impeccably made, hand-sewn bag that will last for a generation, it will be uncounterfeitable. If your trademark is an "L" and a "V" stuck together, all of a sudden you've made it a lot easier.

Florence has a replica of Michelangelo's David standing where the original used to stand. If you've only seen the replica, and it's the same in every way, have you seen Michelangelo's David? What if you couldn't tell the difference?

I've been to Florence, and this is embarrassing to admit, but I have no idea whether I saw either David. The only thing I remember about Florence is the overwhelming quantity of kitschy David-themed postcards, in particular a close-up of David's genitals wearing a comically oversized pair of sunglasses.

If inanimate things could have consciousness, would the fake David be embarrassed by not being the real David? Would they both be embarrassed by the David-junk close-up? Even though that photo is probably of a replica of the replica?

Which brings me to another question, which is perhaps only tangentially related, but it has been on my mind for a while. In the Cinderella fairy tale, when the mice get turned into footmen, do the footmen realize that a) they were once mice, and b) they will be mice again come midnight? (And I'm not talking about the mice from the Disney version, who could already talk.) It's a mini-tragedy that, to my knowledge, has never been explored—like the orphaned children whose parents were trying to pay for college by working as plumbers on the Death Star.

I guess to more explicitly connect that question to the theme of real vs. fake vs. other, you could put it this way: "Hey, Cinderella's footman: are you a man or a mouse?"

What do you think, readers? Do you agree with Blonde Redhead that fake can be just as good?

This is the last dress I'm buying for a while, so Dressopotamia will soon go quiet(er). One last monster post, hopefully before the of 2012, and after that I guess I'll be showing off my new duds in person exclusively. See you soon!

All photos by Claire Loeb!

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