There are many things I wish I'd said "yes" to in my shopping life. Nothing gives me quite the pang of regret as the one that I let slip through my fingers five years ago. We were spending a week in London. We've been many times over many years, always staying at the same hotel (which has changed names three times). A special treat is the day I leave my husband to fend for himself and go shopping.
This is not window shopping or finding an interesting little shop I may have read about. This is serious, I-am-buying-stuff shopping. Although I swore I'd never do it again, I traversed the whole length of Oxford Street. I went into every H&M, spent what seemed like hours in TopShop, Uniqlo and Primark, trying to bring back my favorite kind of souvenirs, the ones that hang on hangers. I did buy a jacket at Zara that I could have found at home, but I wanted something to show for my London trip, and it was getting chilly.
On the way to the hotel I left the tube at Kensington High Street. This was once the stop for Biba, both the original stores and Big Biba when it took over Derry & Toms department store. Biba is long gone. I think it's a Marks & Spencer now, but Kensington High Street has its own enclave of shops (including Urban Outfitters and GAP). There is also the British branch of TJ Maxx, called TK Maxx in the UK.
At this point my shopping had been just meh. I was discouraged and nothing looked interesting anymore. Then I discovered that TK Maxx had a Runway section like its US counterparts. Not much there either except... this... one... dress...
The label said "Vivienne Westwood Anglomania". It was $106. I am a whiz at calculating pounds into dollars when it comes to shopping. It was also size L (I'm usually XS or S), but I took it into the changing area to try. I can't tell you how long I debated over that dress. It was a little big, but the shape was so amorphous— it's called the twisted elephant dress— who would know? The photo print is of a Rubens painting, "The Rape Of The Daughters Of Leucippus". I didn't know that at the time, but something was definitely going on. Would I really want to wear that? Well, if Vivienne Westwood chose it, the answer would be "yes". So the rape scene didn't stop me.
What did? I can only think utter exhaustion and frustration. Sometimes I will buy five little things without thinking but shrink from making that one bigger purchase. I was afraid I would be sorry I had wasted my money.
Well, guess who's sorry now? I thought about that dress and went back a few days later. It was gone. But not forgotten. The years since I've searched for it on ebay and have gotten thisclose to plunking down two or three hundred dollars to scratch that itch, but I could never bring myself to do it.
I've learned a lot about Vivienne Westwood since then. Anglomania is her ready-to-wear line, still a bit pricey with t-shirts at $140 dollars. So I guess $621 is not too much for the genuine article. That's the going price on ebay for my lost love, now being offered by a lass from South Yorkshire who only wore it once. I'm thinking she wore it for a year and never took it off. Why else sell such a treasure? She lists it as THIS ITEM IS VERY HARD TO GET HOLD OF NOW AND NEVER COMES UP ON EBAY! THIS IS REFLECTED IN THE PRICE. You bet.
By the way, the wonderful Ms. Westwood is still creating beautiful havoc at age 76. I haven't given up hope yet.
|Vivienne with husband Andrea Kronthaler|