Mikhail?s Navy? Or Is That Louis Vuitton?

Talk about Armageddon… Jeff Koopersmith on the year's over-the-top luxury tchotchkes and the celebrities hawking them.

November 28, 2007 – Lugano (apj.us) – You can be certain we are near the End of Civilization and its New World Economy if you, as I have just done, peruse the latest offering by the International Herald Tribune (IHT) – otherwise known as New York Times Lite.

The mail arrived early this morning in Lugano, and along with the usual Herald newspaper was a slapping, semi-glossy magazine with a letter from Michael Golden, its publisher, heralding (excuse the pun) the issue of these yellow pages for the happily rich.

One does become accustomed to seeing shimmering advertisements for couture, timepieces, luggage, footwear, and gold-plated tchotchkes that each cost more than the average American housemaid makes in a year.

I suspect that the Herald, because it charges something like $300 a year for a subscription, must also believe that its standard reader earns somewhere near $20 million dollars a year, judging by the ads in the new magazine.  All totaled, the objects to covet in the publication work out to well over $23 million.  The advertisers too must think only the well-heeled see the mag.  They pay a pretty pfennig for a full page ad, or two, or three, in the new IHT mag, called inventively "T – The International Herald Tribune – Style"

But okay – I am not against advertising to the affluent.  However, the celebrity endorsements are just a smidgen over the top.

Let me say honestly that only one such endorsement in particular got my goat. 

It is a twin full page ad (known as a ‘double truck’) from Louis Vuitton, featuring a photo of none other than former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, uncomfortable in the back seat of what appears, from the sloppily sewn upholstery, to be a London Taxi – running along “The Wall” somewhere in Germany.  He is sitting stiff legged next to "his"  Louis Vuitton carry-on  – the kind that grocery store checkers save up for six months to buy to prove they are worthwhile.  You know the bag. It's the brown leatherette round model with the Gold "LV" stamps all over it, trimmed in real leather of the "ecru" variety. 

(See this ad and a "secret" at the New York magazine Web site if you want to really freak out.)

The photographer or photo editor of Vuitton was careful to be realistic and show just the tip of Mr. Gorbachev's own  “brand”  his  birthmark that looks uncannily like a map of South America. Only Argentina and a bit of Chile are visible on the Russian forehead though, and there is no sign of the Falkland Islands in the photo. (New York magazine says the Gorby photo was taken by Annie Leibowitz  – so I guess it was not edited.)

The caption on this advertisement reads:

"A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.  Berlin Wall. Returning from a conference.  Mikhail Gorbachev and Louis Vuitton are proud to support Green Cross International."

What Green Cross International?  Which conference?

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