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The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Even Better Than The Real Thing

Gosh, now I seem to be the Agony Aunt of Shopping :P I will try to answer your queries in time, but first let me respond to this one :

Wow mokcik! One of my colleagues got an original LV bag for RM200 only! But sadly she forgot the name of the mall coz she said there so many...Got any ideas which mall might have designer goods (apparently reject ones)?
alix | Homepage | 11.14.06 - 12:41 am |

Dear Alix,
Sadly, it is extremely difficult to get your hands on an LV reject because LVMH will burn defective items at the factory, and their factories are usually in Spain or France. You cannot buy an LV bag at bargain price either, because they are never, ever on sale. So, unless the bag in question was second hand or stolen, it is quite likely that your friend had bought a knock-off LV for about Rp 500,000 -- not a pretty price even for a good fake. However, if you love her, please don't tell her this. Just let her bask in her happiness, because nothing can duplicate the joy of buying a handbag. (Except the joy of buying shoes)

(Gentlemen, do not attempt to argue out the virtues of sex vs shopping. It will be futile)

The takeaway lesson is this : unless you can honestly say you bought your LV at Galeries Lafayette (and even that didn't stop one snooty airline passenger from accusing my sister's -- well, actually, my father's -- carryall as being less than genuine), people will know you're toting a fake. Best to just forget about the damn monograms, already.

Happily though, it is possible to buy genuine overruns or slightly faulty handbags in Bandung, which is about 2 hours from Jakarta. You can try The Summit, at the corner of Jalan Riau and Jalan Banda; or Rumah Mode in Jalan Setiabudi. Still, be very diligent when purchasing because some factory outlets tend to mix the knock-offs with the real thing. My sister Dolly, and I have found a few gems in Bandung and the bags have lived up to wear and scrutiny, so far. Even if you can't find a handbag, a visit to Bandung will not be a loss. It is the Indonesian mecca of bargain hunting, and deserves its own post later.

Another way to own a designer item on the cheap is to buy them pre-loved. However, these are usually sold in private homes and I'm working on an invitation. Will update bila berjaya.

If you don't mind buying counterfeit, though, you should visit ITC Mangga Dua, a huge, labyrinthine mall in North Jakarta. I have to warn you though, that shopping in Mangga Dua is not for the fainthearted. If you do go, despite the warning, try to arrive early as there is much to see, and shops typically close at 5 pm. Ask for the best replicas as the bags are graded by workmanship, and the top-of-the line fakes (haha, I know how ridiculous that sounds) are called Kawai Satu. (The next grades are called Kawai Dua, Kawai Tiga and so on). Some Kawai Satu handbags are so well-made, apparently, that even the trained eye cannot tell the difference.

The paradox of buying a fake handbag though, is this : no matter how genuine looking the bag is, you won't be able to carry it off unless you can actually afford to buy a real one. (Hence, Mangga Dua on a weekday morning is usually packed with trendy tai-tai's who ought to be spending money at Senayan City). So even when buying fake, stick to brands that people would believe you're able to save-up for, or those of which you can lie and say you or your sister bought at a sale in Macy's or Bloomingdale's (A1gner, Co@ch, T0d's or D0nn@ K@r@n are good bets) If you want to buy a really large fake Hermes Birkin, better get that rich boyfriend first.

But look, owning a look-at-me flashy handbag will not considerably improve your life, despite the initial rush. I have learnt my lesson, and now prefer to skip the whole fake designer bag thing altogether, and search for interesting no-name items, like a nice, sturdy wicker tote with gingham lining that you can wear with white capris and flat beribboned shoes; or you can pair with kitten heels and a pleated skirt. This is a look you can wear forever, thanks to the enduring memory of Audrey Hepburn. I have based my entire wardrobe on just a single, black and white film, and like Holly Golightly, am still waiting for that trinket contained within a small box of robin egg's blue. (Loud, loud Ahem! 16th November is tomorrow)

Still on the subject of fakes, I found that nothing can make you feel inadequate quite like a well-formed transvestite. I saw her by the roadside, when Saiffuddin and I were on our way home from South Jakarta, late last night. We live in Menteng, and the infamous Taman Lawang is on its fringes. As we were turning into Jalan Cimahi, from the notorious Jalan Laturharhari, there she was, brown and stately, and wearing a few flaps of cloth to just barely avoid total nudity. The moss green dress, if you can call it a dress, was just a band across her midriff, and two wide ribbons dropping lengthwise from the shoulders. It was a metaphor of an outfit : an intersection of materials for sexual convergence, an outfit for waiting at corners. You could see the length of her legs and the sides of her firm butt in that dress, and as our car went past, her skirt flapped in the wind.

She was Brazilian waxed. And she must have had a good surgeon.

Indonesian drag-queens, when the mix is right, can be graciously beautiful. There was one who looked exactly like our gorgeous colleague, Azizah, stationed at the traffic lights in Cempaka Mas. Clad in a pink lace kebaya, she'd go from car to car, singing while shaking a tambourine, hoping the motorists will toss her five hundred or a thousand rupiahs in return. There are other kinds, of course. Like the one who is obviously a Javanese man in a muumuu, with blonde hair and lipstick, smoking while waiting for customers in the dark of trees on Laturharhari. It is possible that by day, he drives a bajaj.

We have a friend who manages a group of female impersonators, and I have seen what they look like in the harsh sunlight. They are still jaw-droppingly good-looking. They have slim hips, narrow waists, endless legs and posteriors on which you can organise miniature ski-jumps for orang kenit. They have flawless skin and soft, shiny hair. Everything is re-constructed and cajoled into place, and made perfect. When I look at a lovely girl, I think : tak apa lah, kita pun pernah cantik. When I look at a lovely pondan I think : I have never looked that sexy; and I don't think I ever will.

I wish one of them really goodlooking mak nyahs would write a book and spill the beans on how they manage to look scorching all the time.

Men make the best looking women. It's true! Thank God some still prefer the genuine product, despite the extra pouch and handles.


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