One very hot July afternoon in Florence, I entered the Chanel Store in Piazza della Signoria and quickly became focused on the spectacle of an 16-year-old American girl trying to buy a Chanel handbag. She was a petite brunette (like my own daughters) and as I browsed the merchandise, I listened to her explain to the Chanel team that the handbag was her birthday present from her parents. She was negotiating to pay both with cash and a credit card while requesting to get a tax refund. She did not have her passport on her and was under 18; I overheard as the Chanel sales team took turns explaining that she could not get the tax refund because she was under 18. One by one her girlfriends who were waiting outside with bags from Brandy Melville (a perfect store for 16-year-olds) came in to offer their support.
This sweet sixteen suggested to the Chanel sales team that they call her mom to help with the purchase, but not a single Chanel confederate was about to call her mom to make the transaction. I wanted to call her mother at that very moment and say, “PLEASE!!!! Does she really need a Chanel Handbag on her teen tour of Europe? Does she really need a Chanel Handbag, before she graduates high school? Does she really need a Chanel Handbag that she cannot even purchase on her very own?” PLEASE!!! What is there for her to look forward to in life if she gets a brand new Chanel Handbag when she turns 16!!!
Was I one to talk? I had kids all over the world indulged with incredible educational and travel opportunities who by the way would make a B-Line for the Chanel Boutique in Hanoi or Barcelona if I, their mother, offered!
The only designer bags my kids could afford on their summer adventures were good, old fashioned fakes ones sold on the European streets by African salesmen or found in large Asian street bazaars! Instead of spending time in designer stores, my offspring were visiting temples and Buddha’s in Vietnam, Bali and Cambodia, riding on the back of a motor cycle in Hanoi (yes with a helmet), eating the best paella in all of Spain (giving up veganism for this!), learning how to navigate the pharmacy with a sore throat and a burn (received while posing for a photo too close the exhaust pipe of a Spaniard’s motor cycle), and navigating between college finals and Tel Aviv night life (a valuable goal for college students).
The Chanel Reality Show I watched left a bad taste, but being in Florence, Italy I had the perfect remedy to take away the image of entitled teenage indulgence – the gelateria!
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