Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You've Got the Silver

While Nicole Kidman's de trop silver Balenciaga pantsuit fairly horrified the world's press camps, here in Los Angeles it struck an altogether different drumbeat, at least in my teepee.

It's not the suit that is important. All that slick silver that made Kidman appear as if she'd been glued by Elmer's and not a stylist is completely irrelevant.

It's the designer that's important. Balenciaga. The name.

In Los Angeles, the name is everything. A two-line role on a hit sitcom must be filled by a "name," so the most frequent question out of a casting director's mouth is, "What's he done?" In the Hollywood hierarchal order, one is nothing without a credit, and not all credits have value.

The whole thing is very complicated, often reaching Kafkaesque levels of bureaucracy.

I was reminded of this while shopping on Rodeo Drive. Rodeo Drive isn't my kind of place, not really, because I can only truly tolerate accidental conspicious consumption and am therefore in the wrong place most of the time. It's the staginess of Rodeo Drive that gets to me, as if it were not just a mere street but an overlit theatrical set mostly full of what Shakespeare called "merely players."

The stars come and go out of limousines and town cars while that sun beats down upon them as bright as any California navel orange, before we started shipping our oranges to Japan and taking South America's in return. (See what I mean? Kafkaesque.)

Scurrying around the fringes of this are the extras, the "merely players," which includes you, me and the guy over there who's bitten off the end of his cigar and spit it a guiltless distance away.

It's Christmas. And with Christmas, the unremarkable pastime of waiting for a purchase to be rung up. I listened while a salesclerk tried to sell a scent to a young, Miu Miu-clad customer.

"I've never heard of it," Miss Miu Miu said.

"Oh, it's very chic, " the salesperson assured her. In fact, we are one of only two stores that carry it. The other is in Manhattan. It's made in Italy by blind nuns who have taken a vow of silence. Fifty bottles a year, that's it. Limited edition."

She then added, "You're lucky. We got in just in time for Christmas. No one else will be wearing it."

"What good is that, then?" Miss Miu Miu pouted.

Indeed. It might have smelled like the sweet breath of a sacred Balinese goddess, but it had no worth whatsoever. Underneath that navel orange sun, it had no perceived value. Someone would come along and question its identity in the status hierachy and fumbling, sweated explanations would follow.

She bought something by Valentino, an innocuous rosy thing not likely to get her banned from Paperfish.

Kidman must have recognized the titulary power of that suit, and in a moment of huge overconfidence considered her thighs and backside and that labyrinthine network of favors before, well, the whole tinfoil enchilada. And it should be, ideally, above criticism, since it bordered on the surreal.

There have been huge fashion moments in Hollywood, ones that say, Baby, I'm a comer (Elizabeth Hurley's diaper-pin Versace) or Stardom or Bust (Jennifer Lopez, again Versace), but Kidman's differs in that it is the Star on Top of the Christmas Tree, the star in the east, the star that shines the way for all who follow and believe to bask in its holy irradiating glow.


Heather said...

Good point, and good post!

susie_bubble said...

It's interesting how ppl have seen BEYOND the name of in this instance and have just panned the outfit....
Hilarious anecdote though... there's a precarious balance between wanting to be unique and also fitting in...

Suzanna Mars said...

Susie, indeed they have seen beyond it, reporting it without bringing up the Balenciaga provenance.

The whole designer/celeb dance is convoluted and delicate and often results in missteps,though generally not so outrageous as this one.

Eli said...

The exact same thing happened to Jennifer Connoly not too long ago for wearing the flowered Balenciaga get up. Everyone hated it. But it was "BALENCIAGA"

Suzanna Mars said...

Exactly, Eli! Thanks for the comparison!

Libertygirl said...

Actress/designer loyalty is a funny one. Kidman wore Balenciaga on her wedding day nd obviously adores Ghesquiere, but I think, very strongly, tht she looks like a tinfoil wrapped banana. I loathe blind label-love. Wear something because you look splendid not cos it's by XXX....(altho I did admire Connolly's chutzpah in that Balenciaga floral dress & shoes getpup - the willingness to sacifice sartorial elegance & grace for a cutting edge label is rare in the celeb world) LLG xx

MR style said...

i just think it is silly to consider someone as fashionable only because she wears a balenciaga outfit ! it's just nothin fashionable at all !! only people with no styles do that !! i dont think it is nicole kidman choice however, she doesnt look really stylish in it but she doesnt look like britney so it is allright !!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Good point. I'd never advocate sacrificing your taste just for the sake of a label, but a look that seems cutting-edge on the runway might never work without a bit of tweaking in real life. Plus, here it just doesn't work.