One of the things I enjoy the most about the holidays is the annual Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book, especially the chapter devoted to Fantasy Gifts. This year, of course, the Fantasy Gifts take on special importance, as they give us a keener insight into why billionaires can use a tax cut. Truly, when I virtually thumb through the catalog, I completely understand why us blue-state liberal middle-classers should gladly suck it up and accept that we’ll be paying more than we did last year. After all, it’s for an excellent cause.
Here’s what’s in the this year’s goody book.
Personalize your own Armand de Brignac cuvée Part of that excellent cause is making sure there’s someone, knowing there’s a tax cut coming, who’ll feel they can spring for the $150,000 trip to the Champagne Region of France to pick up 24 bottles of your very own personal cuvée. Oh, there’s other stuff thrown in, like a 12-course dinner at a snooty Paris restaurant. And a helicopter tour of Champagne country. Plus five cases of the other five Armand de Brignac champagnes to sip while you’re waiting for your bespoke cuvée to arrive.
Private flight & photo session with Gray Malin For the more pocketbook-conscious (or should I say Birkin bag-conscious), there’s a photo session with Gray Malin for $35K. Now, this would perhaps mean more to me if I’d ever heard of Gray Malin, but I haven’t. So I’ll take NM’s word for it that he’s “famous for his sunny, saturated aerial scenes.” The one-hour session is over LA, so you might want to wait until their hellscape fire is out. Anyway, this gift comes with a post-flight champagne toast with Malin. If you’re friends with the private cuvée folks, maybe you’ll get to sip their bespoke bubbly. (I will note that all of the Fantasy Gifts include a donation to a charity. For this gift, $5K of the $35K price goes the the NM Foundation. There’s a no-doubt worthy charity lined up for the cuvée profits, but here’s the disclaimer: the charity “will retain any profits from the sale of t his Fantasy Gift for its charitable initiatives.” Any profits? Hmmmm.)
19 Madame Alexander Dolls (plus doll house) Sure, Madame Alexander Dolls are lovely. I remember my own lovely Madame Alexander dolls – they must not have been pricey in the 1950’s, or I would have gotten knockoffs for sure – Ginny and Ginette. Too bad I destroyed Ginny’s lovely brunette flip trying to style it. My mother replaced it with a braided blond wig that I think cost three bucks. She figured – correctly – that I couldn’t be bothered undoing the braids. Plus there was the threat of having a bald Ginny doll if I destroyed the second hairdo. Ginette was a tiny little blue-eyed baby doll. Those blue eyes weren’t blue enough for me, so I tried to Magic Marker in eyes that were even bluer. Unfortunately, I took the whites of Ginette’s eyes out, too. My mother did not replace those eyes. Ginette looked fine as long as she was in resting, shut-eye baby doll mode. So, I get why someone would want a bunch of Madame Alexander dolls. But 19 dolls over the course of a year seems excessive. And $8K seems steep. I mean, don’t these dolls retail for about $100 each? Plus that doll house, while sweet, doesn’t look like it would hold 19 dolls. Of course, in this the Age of Narcissism, you also get a custom doll:
…hair color, eye color, and even outfit design for the fortunate giftee, who will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to collaborate via Skype with a top Madame Alexander designer. Will it be a miniature me? A pint-sized replica of a best pal? The dimensions may be small,but the possibilities are virtually limitless. (Source: Neiman Marcus)
The possibilities may be endless, but I’m guessing that more giftees will opt for the mini-me than the best pal.
Sisley-Paris Experience & Products for a Year What might Sisley-Paris be? Well, you’re obviously the sort of person who buys their cosmetics at Macy’s or CVS. Sisley-Paris means “Powerful Plant-Based Cosmetics”, unlike the chemical, bunny-killing junk you’re painting on your skin. Anyway, for just $60K, you get products like their Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream And so as not to be sexist, there’s also plenty of Sisley pour l’homme. Like their Anti-Age Global Revitalizer. I didn’t read the fine print but might “global revitalizer” mean what I think it could? Toss out the Viagra and start globally revitalizing with Sisley? Anyway, on top of all the other goodies in the Sisley goody-bag, you get “a private lunch with a member of Sisley’s founding d’Ornano family in their famous apartment.” Oh. Dear. Oh very, very dear.
A Trip to the Zambian Gem Fields and a One-of-a-Kind Piece of Jewelry I guess Stephen Webster must be to jewelry design what Gray Malin is to aerial art photography. And then some. This gift starts with a trip to an emerald mine, and then a chance to “behold raw emeralds being processed in the sorting house.” Don’t know about this one. I’m flashing on Blood Diamond, and Leo DiCaprio getting shot at. Or shooting someone. I’ve forgotten everything about that film other than the violence. Anyway, for $300,000 you get to go the mines, and then get the emerald of your dreams turned into a ring or brooch or whatever you want to collaborate with Stephen Webster.