Wednesday, November 5, 2008

EXPERIENCE: Booted at Barneys

Sprawled out on the bed of the Hampton Inn Manhattan-SoHo, I insist to my father:

“Barneys is my closet.”

“Keep dreaming,” he snaps and throws me my worn-out leather boots. In my mind I think Louboutins! Daddy motions for me to get going for dinner. Lacing up my shoes, remnants of a purchase last year at TJ Maxx, I pine for the lavishness of my afternoon. Just hours earlier on this Friday afternoon, I pranced my way up the escalators of Barneys New York. Thumbing through Lanvin lace and Dries Van Noten minks, I believed the merchandise belonged to me. All mine. I felt at home.

Two months ago, it was home. I worked the Madison Avenue location over the summer and spent my time with the best of company: mass quantities of luxury goods. Proenza Schouler. Alaia. Givenchy. Versace. Rattling them off defined my job. Running around performing price checks on Prada and size exchanges on Miu Miu, I established an expertise in designer clothing. Up in the Studio Services department, an exclusive alcove on the eighth floor, I witnessed the behind-the-scenes action of stylists and costume designers. Packing garment bags for big names and television shows (let your imagination fill in the blanks: customer confidentiality), I embraced the fast paced nature of the fashion world. I also discovered my strengths: time management and reliability. And my weaknesses: a love for high-end footwear.

On my visit back to my favorite store, I pay respects to my friends on the fourth level-- Salon Shoes. A sucker for the red soles, I bypass the Manolos, dedicating my attention to the Christian Louboutin niche. I delve into my alter ego and decide on a pair of knee-high python stiletto boots. I check the bottom right foot: $2,600.

“Look who it is!” Chris, head honcho among the sales associates, exclaims. Dressed in a Dolce dress shirt, he swaggers toward me and kisses my cheek. I blush. He knows my schtick and escorts me to a love seat. Within moments, the objects of my affection adorn my feet.

“Take your time.” Chris assures me with a wink.

As soft as butter, the shoes melt around my feet. I tiptoe across the lush carpeting, pausing at every mirror. Two familiar young men poke their heads out of the stock room to catch a glimpse. A third chimes in, snapping a photograph with his Blackberry®. I kick up my heel and crack a smile for the camera.

SNAPS: Graveyard Grunge

Anonymous, Graveyard 10th St & 2nd Ave, NYC