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In Love with Luxury – confessions of a humanitarian imposter

FRANCE | Tuesday, 10 July 2012 | Views [873]

There is something about European luxury that cannot be imitated. It moves subtly, gracefully, in the detail of a cut instead of the glare of a monogram. Luxury is an exclusive club, quietly recognisable by secret hallmarks of quality rather than capital-letter brand names. The curve of patterned leather on a mulberry wallet, the tip of a montblanc pen, the heel of a Church’s shoe and a battered leather briefcase are all distinguishing features of upper class 'money that doesn't like to shout'. Despite several years lived on council estates [the odd fight and scar to prove it] I rapidly inherited this snobbery from university and my unexpected employment in an aristocratic investment bank [thereby successfully whitewashing years spent "looking like an orphan" (my mother's description - which given the abdication of my father to a travelling circus, is at least 50% correct.)]

Still, I may dress like a hippy and be covered in an oil slick of Delhi traffic dirt, but to a certain breed of expat, I look like a trustafarian with a rebellion complex.  ‘Oh you have a little job? How nice!..... and what do you do the rest of the time? ’

I can live without pretty things, really I can. I have waded knee deep through swimming pools of other people’s molten faeces, I have eaten in roadside cafes that weren’t fit to defecate in and I have slept naked on 40 degree floors encircled by expanding puddles of my own sweat. Don’t even get me started on roadside toilet facilities, cockroaches and rats .........

But stick me in a mall or a luxury boutique and the disguise is off. I LOVE luxury. I could die in diamonds, bathe in champagne and wander naked in nothing but my new red suede heels. I’m a charity case that should have been born a gold-digger.

While everyone else was warming the pavements of the occupy movement I was basking under golden chandeliers....The real humanitarians, the die-hard ones who sacrifice all comfort and safety for the betterment of mankind...........I applaud them, really I do. And I wish I was them.

I wish I didn’t love expensive perfumes, heels and Swiss watches. I wish I was all minimalist and 'worthy,' but I'm not. I may wade through shit, but you can’t buy my perfume outside Harrods or Harvey Nicks. I may travel on sleepless economy “field missions” but the only thing I ever lost on them was my diamond Swiss watch. People think I slum it as a development worker but I still buy Vogue.

There are days, and sitting here in France my shopping bags gathered under the table at a beautiful cafe with fine wine and fabulous new shoes is one of them - when I’d happily jack it all in and go back to the first class lounge. A wise philosopher once said “A woman can do anything in the right pair of shoes” [Marylin Monroe] and she was right. So next lifetime, I will discard the flip flops, abandon the sewage filled monsoon walks and the poundstretcher wages. My next mission, should I choose to accept it, will be to save the world, one pair of red stilettos at a time....


Tags: capitalism, development, diamonds, fashion, hippiness, luxury, poverty, shopping, wine

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