Saturday, April 9, 2011
When did shabby become chic?
When a friend suggested lunch at a new place in town last week that specialises in this look - I thought great, I am going to see some lovely nostalgic pieces and who knows I may pick up a bargain. Boy was I wrong – not only was the decor on sale similar to stuff that I sent to the rubbish tip when I last moved home – the price made more than my eyebrows rise – it elevated my blood pressure!
There is a very fine line between shabby chic and junk and very few of us seem to be able to distinguish between them. The shop’s name gave the impression of gracefully aged mementos of a bygone era but was filled with battered old ‘crap’ and very overpriced ‘crap’ at that! Things our parents would have given to the bin men! I was examining one such item – a tatty old overpriced cushion when the owner strolled over and waxed lyrical about what a wonderfully romantic accent piece it was. I loitered awhile waiting for my friend to arrive surveying grungy fabrics, tarnished mirrors and insipid prints in over-gold frames and then a blood curdling shriek pierced the air.”Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” shrieked some female. I hurried towards the commotion expecting to find at least a severed head or a 16 metre boa constrictor but no, the reason for this wild screeching , was a battered old settee with a carved wooden frame, stuffing pouring out of its dirty brown upholstery and the lattice work at the back looking like an old tennis racket that had been left in someone’s garden shed for too long. I stood in amazed shock while I listened to the owner and her friends make orgasmic moans and squeals of delight as they circled this 'amazing find'. I couldn't help think of the fairy story the Emperor's New Clothes - you know when no one will actually say that the King is walking around naked in case they look foolish.
I was rescued by the arrival of my friend and we sauntered into the adjoining empty coffee shop and sat on clapped out chairs at our wobbly painted table complete with artificial lavender springs and ordered something from the very limited menu - obviously the scarcity theory was carried over to the kitchen where wartime like rations were being drooled over. The food was mediocre, the service shabby and when the bill arrived - well that was very chic! I wont be going back - Shabby Chic is not for me - I appreciate old and beautiful objects and i know that recycling makes sense but I know when I am being conned!