Friday, August 6, 2010

86. Anthropologie Catalog

Let's talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. That's right, the Anthropologie catalog. I looooooooooooooooooove the Anthropologie catalog. It is like Target on steroids. Okay, it is not in the remotest way at all like Target. It is a more like watered-down version of Neiman Marcus. Everything is very pretty, very unusual, and (ahem) very expensive. Crystal necklaces share valuable print space with bird-shaped teapots; models in goth dresses frolic next to overstuffed lounge chairs (never on the actual chairs, then we couldn't see the print of the chair's fabric). There is always an overabundance of bicycles and books, or tables made of books (rarely is a model seen reading a book). Hotels seem to always play a key role in the Typical Anthropologie lay-out: we see maids walking past open suitcases (did the maid steal one of the crystal necklaces while no one was looking?), tea service languishing on silver platters, and a charm bracelet left haphazardly on the desk when Someone Was Writing Postcards. The Anthropologie World also consists of chandeliers interwoven with real live flowers (consumer must provide her own live flowers), empty Murano glass vases (all the live flowers are in the chandelier, remember?), strappy sandals even in the dead of winter, butterfly hair clips (multi-purpose--as they can apparently be used to clip one's keys together as demonstrated on page 15), and embroidered linen jackets with nautical details. The Anthropologie customer is always ready to jet off to another fun adventure in some distant and remote corner of the world. She keeps her passport in her pocket, just in case. Webster's defines "anthropology" as the study of characteristics, customs, etc. of humanity. But can we study Anthropologie's photography and staging? I. Just. Don't. Get. It. On the cover of their August 2010 issue, a very pretty girl shows off an olive-green knit skirt, paired with a hand-sewn aqua blue sequined tank top, finished with a retro-looking floral cardigan. She rocks the look. For a brief moment, I consider how I might look were I similarly clothed. The total cost of this little get-up?
  • Skirt: $98
  • Top: $128
  • Sweater: $128

If you are good at math like me, then you know the total is $841. It is not the cost of the clothes that bothers me so much (well, $841 is more than our grocery budget for the month. For a family. Of four.) What strikes me as unrealistic is that the photograph that the company chose to put on their cover was one of Pretty Model eating a gooey vanilla cupcake with lots of icing! In the $841 ensemble! There are so many things wrong with this picture:

  • If you spent $841 (plus shipping) on an outfit, are you really going to take a chance on getting it dirty and possibly staining it with a $3 cupcake? No. You might risk a $75 bottle of wine, but not a $3 cupcake.
  • Do models even eat cupcakes? I thought they were not allowed to. I thought they were only allowed to eat celery.
  • Who buys vanilla cupcakes? Everyone knows that chocolate is the only flavor worth eating.
  • And, by the way, Anthropologie, no one wants to see Pretty Model with messy frosting all over her mouth. This is supposed to be Escapist Fantasy Literature. If I want to see messy mouths covered in crumbs, I need only look at my children during meal time.

On page 2 (oh, yeah, this is going to be a LONG blog), Pretty Model is walking down a deserted vintage European cobblestone street, at dusk, by herself in a flimsy dress with ankle boots. There is a random quote on the page: "Over time, never again, because once and then to mine eternal." Huh? If you are very technologically advanced like I am and have access to Google, you will quickly find that even trusty reliable Google does not know what to do with that quote.

Google says: "No results found" (and this is accompanied by a yellow triangle sign with an exclamation point, which I take to mean: "Anthropologie makes up their own quotes."

Makes up their own quotes?!? Who would DO such a thing?

Okay, so the quote makes no sense whatsoever. And I find it somewhat alarming that she is

  • walking by herself at night in a strange city while she is wearing a revealing dress (this could be a dangerous area, Pretty Model! Did you learn nothing from my blog about Sketchy-ville? At least I had a car! You are walking!)
  • and speaking of walking-- what's with the ankle boots? on cobblestones? do you not actually value your precious modeling career because guess what-- the Modeling Scouts don't usually choose the girls wearing casts.

Next page (try to keep up here). She's on a bicycle backwards (!) as if she has never actually ridden a bicycle (she probably hasn't). She is supposedly shopping at a street market, looking at home-made spices. The cost on this outfit is

  • silk top (very practical for jaunty bike-trips): $118
  • skinny jeans (very comfortable! not too tight at all!): $138
  • velvet jacket with embroidery: $148

Yikes! $1200 this time! That is the identical outfit that I wear when I go to the local Farmer's Market here in Crazy Town.

Next page: $88 silk leopard print top with rosette. And where is Pretty Model this time? In a very cheap-looking coffee shop, more like a roadside rest-stop. I can tell you in real life Pretty Model would not be caught dead in this place. There is a sign in the background that lists greasy diner type food and prices. Coffee is 99 cents. This makes perfect sense because

  • We are obviously not in Europe anymore
  • Pretty Model does not have money left for an actual Starbucks cup of coffee or latte after dropping $88 on the blouse

Next page: similar set-up. Over-priced outfit consisting of a cowl-neck sweater ($88), flared 1940's-style tweed skirt ($98), and magenta (at least a practical color for once!) suede ankle boots from Brazil ($258). Grand total for complete outfit: $306. No money left for anything else, so she is shown munching a bag of potato chips.

Next page. Outside a church. In a bikini. Don't get me started. (Plus, since when is Fall Season the time to show swimsuits? Every other page is cashmere and tweed and wool and leather and suede............ now we have spandex?)

Next page: a different but still quite beautiful model (finally, a different model) is walking into the street and about to get hit by a car! Why is this image here? I am not thinking wow, I really love that jacket and scarf, but more like hey, Stupid Beautiful Girl! Look the other way because you are about to be hit by a car!

Next page. Stupid Beautiful Girl, who somehow eluded death, is now inside some sort of deserted and dilapidated old mansion that is mysteriously vacant. She is flipping through a small book and has a Mona Lisa smile. What is going on here?

  • Did she break in?
  • Does this prove how Stupid she is because she broke into a house that does not even have anything to steal (it is empty)
  • Why did she stop to read this little book
  • and what the hell is she grinning about?

Next page. New Girl We Have Never Seen is wearing a heavy wool black coat with an white leaf design embossed on the fabric. The coat is stunning. It is worth every penny of its $288 price tag. New Girl is standing in the snow, looking off into The Distance. That is when I notice that this coat is probably not the most practical choice in 32 degree weather-- the coat has 3/4 length sleeves. For winter. For snow. I guess it doesn't really matter if your wrists get cold, because you are trying to show off your new Anthropologie charm bracelet.

Now we are into the home furnishings section of the catalog. There are chairs and beds and curtains and pillows and art and sofas and glass pitchers and ceramic plates and lamps, all peeking out of crates............ and yet, their is no padding or protective packaging of any kind. Just, you know, eight glass plates (remarkably unbroken) in a sideways crate. Or a $1598 upholstered arm chair with spindly little legs sticking out of a crate. This furniture must not belong to New Girl................ it obviously belongs to Stupid Beautiful Girl (who else would hire these inept movers?).

We are nearing the end of the catalog (Thank God). Accessories. Lots of ankle boots. Nothing under $248. This time, the photographer (or creative director or producer or whoever dreams up these shots) has decided that it is a brilliant idea to get rid of the models all together (so sorry to girls Pretty, Stupid, and don't forget New-- I do sort of feel like we are all on a first-name-basis by now). The boots are the star of the show, so why not display them stacked on pieces of toast? (Maybe toast left-over from that grunge-y diner that Pretty was forced to go in to.) Or, better yet, let's photograph the boots randomly strewn about (intermingling with other boots) on top of white doilies with coffee spilled everywhere-- just what I want! coffee stains on my new $298 Spanish boots! Or maybe even put the boots on top of stacks of candy-- who cares if they get sticky? who cares if you can no longer eat the candy because it has been stepped on?

I can't take it anymore. I flip the catalog shut. Without really meaning to, I notice the back: $439 leather lace-up boots, sitting on frozen peas.

Ahh, it all makes sense now: the Grand Finale is Anthropologie's Andy Warhol moment.

MOV ("Mutilated Overwrought Vision")

1 comment:

  1. Oh, no, you just trashed Hobbes favorite store! Hobbes loves Anthro and hopes someday to be part of one of their fantasy ads; he thinks he would be perfect as an accessory to one of those beautiful models in perhaps a jungle scenario.


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