Chanel handbags. From Daikanyama. On a sunny day.
This entry is brief. I am still testing the limits. I am not sure what to do with the medium, first of all. The freedom is scary. In order to restrict myself thematically, I have confined myself to writing about a city—Tokyo—that I am not in love with. I am still stabbing at ideas and images that I might be able to do something with.
In Daikanyama, there is a store that only sells second-hand black Chanel purses. They are mostly the quilted black 2.55 flap bags with the leather chain strap. The store is down an alley. It is named after an Eastern European actress. The young women that work in the store dress only in black.
The store has a parasitic relationship with the surrounding neighborhood. It is a place where wealth bubbled up after the war and then was ossified by the popping of the asset price bubble. The bags belong to dead women or widows selling off their collections of luxury goods.
The young women that work in Daikanyama carry Chanel bags. The patina on the leather was laid down before they were born—running around Aoyama, shopping in Ginza, raising small, elegant families… The girls that carry their bags have no families. Their energies are consumed commuting to Daikanyama every day, tending the type of store that only sells black Chanel purses, running the counter of French patisseries, or planning social media advertising campaigns.
The black Chanel bag shows that they respect an elegance that they cannot afford to buy fresh. (If they didn’t, they might carry the same bags as young women in the rest of the city. The flashy pawn shops in Kinshicho and Yushima and Shinjuku have fresher stock. These are recycled gifts from kyabakura clients, the legend goes, but that is not completely true. Most of the bags are from the same high times as the Chanel bags in Daikanyama.) Luxury is cycled back through the system with its meaning transformed.
I like the vintage select shops. They are a good place to dream about what could have been. The sheer amount of luxury goods will take another half century to flow from the closets of the men and women that got rich before we were born and just as much time to be repriced and reshelved in stores in neighborhoods we can’t yet afford to live in.
I never have much reason to be in Daikanyama, but I wish I did.
I took the train to Nakameguro this morning with AK and we walked all the way up and through Omotesando. I forget how beautiful the city can be. I forget that not every part of the city is not perfectly flat. There were ducks on the river.
Nakameguro and Daikanyama feel young in an unwholesome way. Everyone appears to be under the age of twenty-five or over the age of seventy-five. There are few children. The wealthy and elderly own the homes; the young people commute there.
There is no lesson here.