Have you read Michael Kors' "Ten Things Every Woman Should Have," from the October issue of Allure? This list did not please me, and it’s not because I only own a single thing on it.
For starters, there's the concept. Be real, Allure: This is a shopping list. Ninety percent of this list is stuff you can buy in a store--including, shockingly enough, multiple items bearing Kors' name! Presenting this as essential advice on womanhood is flat-out lying.
Then you've got your standard being-a-woman-is-expensive song and dance. Apparently being female requires owning luxury goods. Oops! I guess I am not a woman!
Throw in the icky paternalistic implications of a man dictating how to be a woman and a smarmy, classist tone, and what do you get?
Pretty much exactly what you'd expect. Here's the list:
1. A red T. Anthony duffel bag. What does the T. stand for? "The Owner of This Bag is Female," obviously, because there’s no better marker of womanhood than a $375 bag. Right?
2. Michael Kors python ankle boots. Indeed. Every woman should have $1,345 to spend on boots! And then she should take that cash and buy, like, 17 pairs of boots instead.
3. The Audrey Hepburn Couture Muse collection of DVDs. Being a woman involves emulating another woman, apparently. (Also? This is "required viewing" for Kors' employees.)
4. White roses, which he says are the "LBD of flowers." At last, a fashion trope more annoying than "[color of the moment] is the new black"! Kors orders from a fancy florist, but allows that the "corner deli is fine" for the rest of us. Isn't that generous?
5. Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Body Lotion. Because real women look like they've just returned from a tropical vacation. Duh.
6. A Slim Aarons photography book. I had no idea what the picture of a 1960 Stowe, Vermont, ski lodge included in the article had to do with being a woman until I looked up Slim Aarons in Wikipedia and learned his modus operandi was "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places." Which sounds suspiciously like a fashion magazine, does it not?
7. A Michael Kors silver cuff, for the woman who "can’t afford an amazing piece of modern sculpture." Wow. Between the "corner deli" crack and this, he’s making a real case for a peasants' revolt (not to mention promoting that fashion-as-investment nonsense). But wait! It gets better worse!
8. An African safari. Kors says, "The circle of life is not just in a Broadway show." How would we plebeians know? Has this guy seen the price of Broadway tickets lately? But seriously: this is shocking, disgusting snobbery.
9. A sense of humor. Yes! I agree! I wish men had one too! Especially when they’re asked to make lists about how women should be!
10. Another $$$ Michael Kors product that I can’t even be bothered to type out.
You know, there's been a lot of talk about class war lately. I'm no economics expert, but I have to consider whether lists like this contribute to the growing divide in the United States between rich and poor. When it comes to Michael Kors, that divide goes beyond the stuff he's selling, the visible markers of affluence. Even allowing that his comments about the "circle of life" were surely intended to be cheeky and his note about deli flowers meant to be inclusive, condescension is a critical part of the package. He's positioning luxury items not as fashion accessories but as indicators of exclusivity, superiority, and sophistication.
Adding that to the "Things Every Woman Should Own" conceit only makes it worse. According to this article, being a woman requires buying luxury brands and looking down my nose at those who can't or won't buy the same. Is that really the best modern womanhood can aspire to? Michael Kors, I will never be your woman.