Roman Abramovich has hired the artist Daniel Donde to paint some pictures for his house in London. Donde is a faker; he paints brilliant copies of very famous works of art - Chagalls, Picassos, Monets. Basically, he'll copy anything hanging in a gallery. According to him, Abramovich doesn't want to splash out millions on just one piece. Apparently, one of the 50 richest men on the planet can't face dealing with the insurance and the headaches of looking after real works of art.
Abramovich saw Donde's work in a hotel lobby, called him and immediately put in an order for a couple of Warhols. Roman was so delighted with his pretend masterpieces that he's getting Daniel to come to London to whip up a couple of Klimts.
Why pay through the nose for a real work of genius when a bloke called Danny will make you something similar for a couple of grand? Every time Roman wanders into his kitchen to make a cheese sandwich he must look at his fluorescent Marilyn and smile to himself, knowing that should a small bit of Branston pickle fly off his knife and on to the canvas, it doesn't matter. He can just order another one.
Rich, glamorous people can come round for a glass of champagne (which will probably be Asti Spumante) and oooh and aaah over the 200 quid Rembrandt in the loo and the knock- off Picasso above the mantelpiece. Apparently, he wears a fake Rolex, too.
My friends and I, unlike Roman, do not have £900m in the bank, but we have reached the same conclusion; that paying over the odds for a "label", for a coveted, overpriced item, doesn't make any sense.
This wasn't always true. When I was seven, the only thing I wanted was a Hello Kitty pencil case (well, that and a pony, but seeing as we didn't have a garden or any hay, I was pretty sure the horse thing wasn't going to happen). Marcia had a bright red one (pencil case, that is). We sat next to each other in maths and she would pull out matching Hello Kitty pencils and rubbers just to taunt me. She had everything, though - high-top Converse, Levi's jeans and Fiorucci hairbands.
Since then, I've coveted other labels. There was the time when I cried till my dad said I could go to Prada to stare through the window all morning (I was 16 - not a good look), and when I could afford a Gucci keyring at the age of 26 I took a Polaroid of me holding it in my teeth. The girls in the Bond Street store are still alarmed when I walk by.
The obsession with labels grew when a friend and I worked as wardrobe assistants at a fashion magazine. We were paid about £6 a week so couldn't actually afford anything other than a pair of pop socks, but we'd spend hours in the clothes cupboard (a large room filled with glamorous dresses and bags for upcoming fashion shoots) trying things on and pretending we were Elizabeth Hurley. We never fantasised about sleeping with Hugh Grant; all we wanted was a bag with a triangle on it.
When, finally, I started earning enough to buy clothes from swanky shops, I felt like Paris Hilton. I'd waltz in, browse for two hours and then spend a month's rent on a T-shirt. I got a buzz from the planning (is chocolate brown really the new black? Are platforms here to stay? Can I pull off a beret?) until the cash register went ping.
I thought people would like me more (they didn't; I had less cash for drinks in the pub) and that I would immediately look prettier and thinner (a mistake; turns out I can't carry off a beret). Since then, I've done the Nicole Farhi thing, the Harvey Nichols thing, and even (after a particularly embarrassing but well-paid TV gig) the Chloé thing.
But here's the rub. Once home with the precious item, the buzz is gone. When the tissue paper and the smiley, skinny girl helping you in the changing room have disappeared, you're just left with a bit of seriously overpriced wool. You're also not allowed to go off it. If you've spent £250 on a lilac sweater, you can't then decide that purple is, indeed, not your colour.
And that's why Roman has got it right. Six months after The Kiss has been hung over his bed, he can just stick it in the skip and order up some sunflowers.
When Mrs Abramovich decides she's having a blue period (that girl Daria was very pretty) she can surround herself with some uplifting Matisse to cheer herself up.
Primark and Ikea have saved us all. Why go to Harrods when you can get a skirt for under a fiver and a coat for 30 quid, from the high street, that look better? And if it's a white coffee-table you're after, then why not go to the Swedish megastore, eat a plate of meatballs and buy one for £7.99? Well done, Roman! This season I'll be mostly wearing cheap stuff. Bring on the Branston.Reuse content