Faux Real by Allie Seiler

“Faux Real” designed by Sarah Kissel is an exhibition focusing on a cultural obsession with counterfeit luxury goods.  It comments on the popularity of “purse parties” an underground market where women get together in the privacy of a home and invite fake handbag seller.  It is about the status of the label – not the design, or usability, or even the quality of the product.  It is a constant search for symbol of luxury culture.

This work includes three essays “The Material Fictions of Desire, The Synthetic Ideal, and the Habitus of Elizabeth Hurley: Celebrity, Fashion, and Identity Branding.”  The essays describe the feeling of buying “the real thing.”  The satisfaction and status of buying a luxury item can somehow be equated to buying its fake counterpart.  The exhibition shows counterfeit images laid over the luxury brands they are imitating.  It  seduces the consumer and tricks everyone else.

I think this concept of blending the real and the fake is very relevant in our culture.  There is such an emphasis put on status and possessions.  Labels and brands continue to beat quality and design.  Sometimes good design and well-known labels can go hand and hand, but even when the two are exclusive, people do not hesitate to be impressed.  Consumers want to feel exclusive and want other people to see the things they can afford – or if they can’t afford, they will pretend to.  I always have associated luxury with exclusivity.  Luxury goods are items that few people can have because they are expensive and/or rare.  However, Louis Vuitton is a perfect example that “luxury” can be a one-size-fits-all as well.  When the real thing isn’t attainable, people still buy fake to trick everyone else.  The only problem, when everyone is doing this, Vuitton 1. isn’t exclusive anymore and 2. is now always assumed to be fake.

Our status should have nothing to do with the bags we carry or shows we walk in.  We should admire people who are moral, intelligent, creative, honest etc – and as far as the handbag they carry, they all might as well be fake to me.

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