“Have you heard of the Beano system?” asked my friend K.
“No, what is it?”
“Some sort of fancy system for playing music … The G’s told me their TV was a Beano, too,“ she began, and the penny dropped.
“You mean B&O? Bang & Olufsen?”
“Oh, is that what it is? Well, I guessed it must be something exclusive because the G’s have it installed in their new house.”
This sums up my friend’s awareness of famous brands. She chooses the things she buys on the basis of whether she likes them, and whether the price is within her budget. She doesn’t notice prestigious names. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t sometimes flaunt a Hermès scarf or Coco Chanel sunglasses, but when she does it’s because she found them in a second-hand store and thought they were pretty. Frequently, she has never even heard of the particular label.
Yesterday she was setting out for a trip to Paris, wearing a very attractive colourful dress with silver splodges across the front and this time she did know the brand: Desigual. She knows that name, because she likes their quirky flamboyant designs, and has several (pre-loved) Desigual items.
I asked if it washed well, or would the silver dissolve in the washing machine. She didn’t know, she hadn’t yet washed it, but there was a strange sort of plastic disc attached to it that she had been unable to remove. I looked at this plastic disc embedded in the hem of the dress, and read that the garment had been made from fabric used for a costume in the Cirque du Soleil.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” I cried, impressed. “How lovely! You got a real bargain there.”
She looked uncomfortable.
“You mean it’s made out of rags from some old circus performer’s outfit?”
She doesn’t like circuses.
“Not any old circus. The Cirque du Soleil,” I repeated.
Never heard of the Cirque du Soleil??
I tried to explain, and Google brought up the information that her dress was the result of a 2011 partnership between Desigual and Cirque du Soleil. No, not so exclusive after all, but it had certainly sold originally for more than 15 franks on the flea market.
I’m sure it impressed her Parisian daughter-in-law, who works in L’Oréal’s marketing department.