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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Designing women


Tony Deyal

SATURDAY’S CHILD: Designing women

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If the devil wears Prada, who wears Louis Vuitton?  
The answer came this Carnival when the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, showed up at a pre-Carnival event, headlining Machel Montano, in a pair of US$795 (BDS$1590) boots with the Louis Vuitton brand.
The responses were mixed – some blaming the Trinidad Express for highlighting celebrity trivia and others saying that it is a bad example for the Prime Minister to spend so much on shoes when there are children who are starving.   
One writer with the nom de plume Trini Chick commented: “I’m no Kamla fan but I think she’s entitled to spend her money how she pleases. More important is the shock in knowing those ugly shoes, that did not match the outfit, cost TT$5000. That’s the shameful part.”  
Several people also pointed out that Carnival costumes cost more than the prime minister’s shoes and that since it was not the public purse paying for the footwear, there was no problem.
Comparisons were also made about the difference in style between the TNT prime minister and the United States First Lady Michelle Obama. There is, in fact, a website (mrs.O.com) that is dedicated to “following the fashion and style of First Lady Michelle Obama, since 2008”.  
The site tells you, for instance: “The president and first lady attended the 2011 National Medal of Arts and Humanities Medal in the East Room at the White House today. On the style front, Mrs. O wore a mix print wrap dress paired with black boots.”
Other fashion titbits include: “Mrs. O wears a Rachel Roy Deep Sea Blue Crepe Drape Neck Dress”, and the site-link lets you know it cost US$445 (BDS$890).
But, is there a Louis Vuitton connection between the TNT prime minister and the American First Lady?  
A fashion website says: “. . . even First Lady Michelle Obama has a few Louis Vuitton handbags tucked away in her closet.”
A Louis Vuitton bag also featured prominently in a matter involving another political figure – the former prime minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell. An article in a Trinidad newspaper in August 2007 stated that former TNT Attorney General Ramesh Maharaj was representing Dr Mitchell at a commission of enquiry headed by Dr Richard Cheltenham, investigating allegations made by a journalist in a 2004 Miami newsletter called Offshore Alert.
The newsletter claimed that Mitchell took a US$500 000 (BDS$1 000 000) cash bribe from Eric Resteiner in a Louis Vuitton bag on a trip to Switzerland. Resteiner was made a diplomatic representative of Grenada to Switzerland. Dr Mitchell consistently denied receiving any bribe and maintained that he got US$15 000 (BDS$30 000) as reimbursements. This prompted one critic to say that it is unusual for the receptacle to be worth more than the contents.
The fact that Vuitton has a “joke” bag has added fuel to the controversy, which died down during the Carnival season and may be rekindled after Ash Wednesday. The bags are sold as “authentic Louis Vuitton Richard Prince Mancrazy” accessories. Ashlee Simpson’s cost about US$2 200 (BDS$4 400) and another sold for US$3 995 (BDS$7 990).
Many of the jokes are from the king of one-liners, Henny Youngman. They include: “Every time I meet a girl who can cook like my mother . . . . she looks like my father”; “My wife went to the beauty shop and got a mud pack. For two days she looked beautiful. Then the mud feel off”; “I’ve been married for thirty years and I’m still in love with the same woman. If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me.”  
Speaking of bags, Youngman once quipped: “Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, ‘Send one of my bags to New York, send one to Los Angeles, and send one to Miami.’ She said, ‘We can’t do that!’ I told her: ‘You did it last week!’”
I suppose that given the designer preoccupation, a joke about the TNT prime minister’s recent trip to India had to emerge. It is said that when the two prime ministers met they spent a lot of time discussing the heavy weight of the offices they carried, their burdensome responsibilities and all the many demands on their time.
The Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh revealed that he was responsible for several ministries including Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, as well as Planning, Atomic Energy and Space.  He then turned to the TNT prime minister and asked:
“And what is your portfolio?” She replied with a proud smile, “Louis Vuitton, of course.”

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