Price on request

Price on request

The middle-class people are curious about the price. The rich, just request.

Flip through the pages of any lifestyle magazine in your leisure hours and you will come across envy-worthy pictures of garments, accessories and cosmetics juxtaposed artistically against satin backdrops. Fragrances (almost always French – does no other country make perfumes?) in pink bottles with golden caps jostle for space with skin-care potions with unpronounceable brand-names. Clothes from celebrated design labels lie cheek-by-jowl with bags, sunglasses and belts. Turn a few more pages and you have famous film-stars waxing eloquent over their current obsession. ‘I could kill for a pair of shoes by designer X’ or ‘Nothing equals the joy of acquiring a limited-edition bag from the house of Y,’ they gush.

Take a closer look at the prices and some of the adrenalin rush begins to recede. Lipsticks and lotions upwards of a couple of thousand rupees are only the bottom of the luxury segment. The shoes on display cost several thousand rupees, and for some mysterious reason, belts are even more expensive than stilletoes. When a 20-something star prattles on ad nauseum about her desire for a bag worth a few lakhs, even the most laid-back amongst us might wonder if perhaps our off-the-shelf black hand-bags or trusted footwear priced ‘reasonably’ in figures ending with the famous ‘ninety-nines’ are not perhaps ‘down-market’.

Often, the uninitiated eye finds no connection between the aesthetic quotient of the product and its price : sometimes the ugliest of leather bags in strange combinations of grey, beige and black is priced fabulously high. An ensemble that you and I would not be caught dead in (we would prefer to be alive in off-the-rack staples anyday) boasts of five-digit price-tags. A plain black top reminiscent of the one you wore to college with even plainer jeans costs the equivalent of a month’s salary – the only value addition in sight is a ball of colourful feathers suspended from a leather string down the front. You conclude that the minds of designers work ‘in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform’ and leave it at that.

The most enigmatic caption, however, is one that says, ‘price on request’ in discreet italics. Peer at a close-up of a monogrammed bag in a strange shade of lime-green which will go with nothing else in the closet of an average woman. Take a closer look at gemstone-dripping platinum jewellery that looks so frightfully expensive that the wearer must surely walk around with a pistol (diamond-tipped?) in her crystal-dotted clutch and a scanned copy of her insurance policy on her cell-phone display. The sheer impracticality of all that opulence is somewhat reassuring.

Maybe the ‘price on request’ label is intended to discourage ordinary or ‘price-sensitive’clients like me and attract only discerning fashionistas with gym-toned bodies and overweight bank accounts. After all, they are the ones who will showcase the clothes best at glitzy events in town. The label says it all : only the middle-class are curious about the price. The seriously rich, I presume, just ‘request.’

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