Monday, February 16, 2009

The Rich Are Still Different ...

Even when they aren't quite as rich.

A couple of articles from the Sunday Times make the point:

1.  Recession be damned, it seems that Saks has just opened a shop dedicated to Kiton suits for men.  Handmade in Greece, these run $7,000 off the rack, up to $21,025 custom.  (And why the extra $25, you ask?  We ourselves would round up or down, but then we don't lay out twenty grand on a suit).  

Well, okay, but we all know that there are still a few bankers with jobs, and hedge-fund managers whose funds actually hedged successfully.  So it isn't so surprising that there's a market for way-upscale menswear.  What surprises us more is this:

2.  What the "losers" (relatively speaking) in the changing economy do to, um, economize.  They cut back on the private planes.  They talk to their caterers about chicken pot pie instead of filet mignon.  Fair enough; we would cut back on those as well, in their place.  We confess a bit of surprise that they don't dry clean as often, though.  Really?  It's like ten bucks per garment.  We're not talking private-plane expenses here.

But here are the economies that really grabbed our attention:

Spending on flowers is also being trimmed. Take, for example, a recent high-end but private wedding with several dozen guests that Dorothy Wacco of Beautiful Flowers said she recently did. “The bride wanted to spend over $50,000 for d√©cor and flowers but they cut that budget back to $30,000,” Ms. Wacco recalled.

Um, wow.   That's $30k for the flowers.  For the record, Fr. A.'s congregation, housed in an especially beautiful landmark building, charges about a grand for non-member weddings, and a bit more than half that for the undercroft, if you want a reception there.  Fr. A. does a fair amount of work, sometimes, preparing a couple for matrimony -- marriage prep classes, coordinating with the organist, making sure there's a bulletin, leading the rehearsal, and of course leading the prayers and preaching the sermon.  No couple, to date, has ever considered this worth more than a gift of $500 or so.  If that.  Usually less.  Sometimes nothing. Not complaining, here.  Happy to do it for the sheer joy of doing it.  Just wondering if we didn't follow in the wrong grandpa's footsteps.

Still, fancy flowers weren't what really revealed the difference between the equestrians and the plebs.  That would have been this:

“My shop is not one where they charge $400 for haircut,” said Concetta Capritto, who owns Tina Hair Salon on First Avenue and 53rd Street. “We do give a cup of coffee to the clients. For $400 I would give a little caviar,” she said. “I ask them how they found me and they tell me: ‘Well, I live in the neighborhood.’ ”

Ms. Capritto added, “I don’t know if they got tired or they could not afford it, but they are coming to me and they are coming back and they are happy.”

She said most of her customers are women, but there are also some young men who used to work on Wall Street. “They paid $100 for a haircut and now they pay $25, and they are happy,” Ms. Capritto said.

God bless Ms. Capritto, and her newly-humbled clientele.  In their world, her services are indeed a steal.  But for the young former Wall Streeters, we have a tip:  You're guys, for crying out loud.  Nobody cares what your hair looks like.  Nick on the corner here in Astoria can cut your hair for $12 dollars.  You'll look okay.   And if you still haven't found a job, consider the Atlas Barber College, near Astor Place.  No guarantees about the cut, but the price is right and you leave with a great story.


Kate the Great said...

YOU JUST WAIT, FATHER. You're gonna see what $10,000,000 of flowers look like!

Father said...

I thought of you as I typed ....

Father said...

I thought of you as I typed ....

mark said...

A grand for non-members? Does that mean you got rid of the scaffolding, finally?
Why didn't you mention to the Bishop that the place was available for a ministerium? Could've made a wonderful dent in the overhead, I'll bet! Wouldn't even have come close to exceeding the posted occupant load, either - so there wouldn't have been any worries about lurking City Fire Inspectors.