So, every once in a while (by "every once in a while," I mean "everyday") I fall completely head over heels infatuated mega in love with a designer. This process begins in an innocent manner, with the designer making a collection or two of awesome clothes that I genuinely love, but soon the relationship inevitably turns toxic: the designer gets a little cocky and starts putting out some horrible things, but still I remain loyal and start fervently defending them to friends and family and myself. Pretty soon my friends get tired of it and move on, my family drops me off on the side of the road somewhere, and then it's just me, alone, shivering and clutching a dog-eared Designer Spotlight page torn hastily from InStyle trying desperately to hold onto the dream of my perfect designer.
One of the first times I found myself engaged in the toxic designer relationship cycle was in junior high. I used to love Paul Frank; I adored everything he made. I spent all my babysitting and birthday and Christmas money combined on Paul Frank clothes and accessories at Nordstrom, and so did everyone else my age. But then things started to turn bad. I mean, the Julius monkey thing was cute for awhile, but pretty soon it got a little tired, then a little obnoxious, then it was just ugly.
Still, I defended him to all my friends. I didn't buy as many Julius-printed boxers as I used to, but I still bought some. I gave Paul my total 14-year-old love and trust, and a year later I was buying monkey head shirts that I didn't even really like. I'm pretty much over him now, but I'll admit that even today when I spot a cheap leather Paul Frank monkey wallet at Nordstrom, I feel a pang of nostalgia for our beautiful and pure relationship from once upon a time. Compared to the high-end designers I'm infatuated with now, my relationship with Paul was puppy love. But it was toxic puppy love, a mark on the low end of the toxic designer relationship spectrum that fashion-obsessed women know all too well.
Now that you've heard my story, here's a handy quiz to find out if you are or ever have been involved in a toxic designer relationship. Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:
1. Have you ever bought something not because it was cute but because it was by your favorite designer and you could kind of afford it? (Give yourself two "yes" points here if you really couldn't afford it)
2. Has one of your favorite designers ever held a runway show that included huge martian hats or models wearing garbage bags or Spice Girl size platforms and you found yourself thinking something like, "Gosh, I never realized that trash bags could be so wearable!"
3. Do you refer to your favorite designers by their first names (Michael, Betsey, Marc, Alexander, Christian, Stella, etc.) and count them among your friends?
4. Were you a junior high devotee of Paul Frank, and still buy Julius shirts today?
5. Do you go to swanky websites and troll your favorite designers' collections late at night the way other people look at porn?
6. When you hear a story about your favorite designer being an ass to a reporter, do you explain to people that he's really not like that, he was just having a bad day?
7. Do you get jealous when you see another woman (probably Lindsay Lohan) wearing your favorite designer?
8. Have you ever bought something completely wrong for your figure (read: skinny jeans) just because a designer you love made them and you feel that he/she would never lead you astray?
9. Would you scoff at the shoes below if I told you they were Dr. Martens?
10. Would you yearn for the shoes above if I told you they were Marc Jacobs (which they are)?
If you answered "yes" to 5 or more of these questions, you are engaged in a toxic designer relationship. I don't really have any advice for you, since I'm engaged in about six at the moment, but if it makes you feel better, even bigshots are afflicted. Consider the incredibly chic people over at the Net-A-Porter designer shopping site. Their description of the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection includes the sentence, and I quote,"Marc Jacobs can do no wrong." Yep, sounds like a classic case.