I’m a little bit of a label whore here in Italy. Surrounded by great beauty, design, and style, when you come to Italy you want to adopt a little bit of it yourself, those classic Italian brands and tastes. Even if it’s nothing to do with your personality, you walk into the main department store here, La Rinascente, and find yourself wanting leopard print lingerie and Missoni zigzag stripes; wildly colorful Pucci prints and just wildlife Roberto Cavalli; Gucci, Prada, Fendi logos, even though everyone here carries the French little Louis Vuittons. You want to spritz a little Acqua di Parma on your wrist while you eat your gelato.
Have I lost you? I can’t explain it myself. Something about the Italian lust for beauty and design gets under your skin here, you just want in, any way that you can. Of course that doesn’t mean I can afford any of it – but there are little tricks. Go to Missoni Home, and you can wear your zigzags at home, in towel form, for eight euros, enough to make your eyes happy anyway. I can peruse the D&G underwear shop, though I haven’t committed to anything there yet. The only real frivolity I’ve gotten is a little Fendi medallion necklace, thirty euros. I have a reason for this one though.
Fendi has a special little place in my heart, particularly Silvia Fendi, its current accessories designer. A while back I read a profile of her in some Spanish magazine, without knowing much about her before, and a quote has stuck with me ever since: to paraphrase, “you need to learn the rules so you can break them.” It’s not a particularly new or unique sentiment, but for some reason this time when I read it, the message sunk in to me… that especially for women, doing what’s expected and what you’re told to do is not necessarily – or usually, for that matter – what’s right or best for you. Or what’s best for the world in general. The world needs more people doing what they’re passionate about, even if it’s impractical, not more people following the rules to the tee.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman
So even though I bought it for the label, twirling that little golden disc between my fingers reminds me of all that, to go beyond what I know I can do and go for what I want to; not to wait until I think I’m sure, because few people are ever really sure when they make big steps forward. The design of the necklace itself has four little green hearts that add up to a clover, to remind me that love is luck and luck is love. This is why I don’t really mind being a little label whore, because it’s all about finding a personal meaning in the ubiquitous design. And there’s something nice about investing in the quality, even down to the pristine little bags and ribbons your tiny purchase comes packaged in. The frivolous things, and the little things, unnecessary but maybe they make you smile. Maybe they remind you that quality of life matters, even in the tiny details where you can find it and afford it. And maybe it reminds you to live the life that you want, not just the life that makes sense. Thirty-eight euros isn’t too steep for all that.
Is this post shallow or deep? I can’t even tell anymore. Feel free to roll your eyes, agree or disagree, and leave me a comment.