I read the reviews, and then I went ahead and read Wednesday Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue anyway. I am one of those Real Housewives fans: I am endlessly fascinated by people who take themselves, and their luxuries, seriously.
Martin and the Upper East Side women upon whom she trains her “anthropological” lens are very serious about the “megastatus symbol, perhaps the ultimate one, for women,” the Hermes Birkin bag.
The Birkin features prominently in the book’s most entertaining–and ridiculous–anecdote, which finds Martin as the target of a well-heeled woman, carrying a Birkin or its ilk, who “charges” her on an Upper East Side sidewalk (80-81). Martin observes the phenomenon–a woman with a more exclusive handbag charging a woman with a lesser handbag–again and again. The bags, Martin writes, “were armor, weapons, flags, and more it seemed; everyone who charged someone seemed to have a fantastic bag, and to revel in brushing her opponent with it. This was the coup de grace” (83). Continue reading