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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Seeking self through a Gucci suit

The Internet came alive last week with frenzied commentary about the confessional by Pulitzer Prize-winner Buzz Bissinger in the April issue of GQ

Written by New York Times | Published: April 7, 2013 3:57:29 am


The Internet came alive last week with frenzied commentary about the confessional by Pulitzer Prize-winner Buzz Bissinger in the April issue of GQ,an epic tale of a writer stoking a compulsive-shopping disorder with huge doses of Gucci. The article was a classic in glossy magazine moralism,well timed both to lure and shock readers still attempting to stagger out of the slough of an inert economy.

What do you mean Buzz Bissinger spent $638,412.97 on clothing? That is enough to outfit almost 400 of the high school football teams Bissinger came to fame writing about,or more than the average American pays for a home.

Equal parts divulgence (“I own 81 leather jackets,75 pairs of boots,41 pairs of leather pants,32 pairs of haute couture jeans,10 evening jackets and 115 pairs of leather gloves,” he wrote) and soft-core self-indulgence,the massive heave was composed by a 58-year-old father of three notably uninhibited about disclosing details of his shopping problems,marital wobbles,latent kinks,family inheritance and robust personal revenue stream (2 million copies of his book Friday Night Lights sold).

Written in a febrile swoon,My Gucci Addiction sketched a consumerist nightmare tale in the prose of a bodice ripper. The heaving bosom,though—clad in a little something from one of the 38 separate labels that Bissinger name-checks—is his.

“I am here as a private client of Gucci,one of five pampered and feted on an all-expenses-paid four-day trip to Milan and Florence,” Bissinger wrote of his Gucci-sponsored,business-class flight from Kennedy International Airport to Milan last January,where he was met by a private car and whisked (it’s the only verb,really) to the Park Hyatt Milan.

Friends,the authentic kind,are barely necessary when you have Gucci and the Divine Stylist,Bissinger’s personal shopper at the brand’s flagship New York store. It was this unnamed sibyl who routinely notified Bissinger when new styles arrived,who posted bulletins and photographs and who also provided the sartorial guidance that ultimately resulted,Bissinger wrote,in choruses of praise he hankered for all his life.

The “go-for-it-style” was new to Bissinger,who favoured shapeless suits and baggy pleated trousers before submitting to the kinky allure of stretch leather and boots with three-inch heels. He was buying so much Gucci and so compulsively that he was ultimately invited into the ranks of the fashion elect,joining a group of fellow shopping whales in the front row of the biannual menswear presentations.

And how did Gucci feel about sharing a starring role in Bissinger’s 6,400-word opus? “Gucci engages with our clients across many passion points,” said Robert Triefus,chief marketing officer at Gucci,adding that each season a select group of consumers like Bissinger is invited to attend runway shows,visit the company’s birthplace in Florence and tour the workshops where the magic is made.

As for the rest of the article: No comment.

In Bissinger’s account,Gucci is cast as a willing enabler of his need to shake off a repressive upbringing,the stylistic puritanism foisted on heterosexual white males,and the creep of middle age.

As addicts often do,Bissinger felt helpless,caught in the grip of a compulsion that fuels not only Gucci’s bottom line but global economies,April Lay Benson,an expert on compulsive shopping disorder,said. “Don’t forget we had a president who,after 9/11,said ‘We can’t let the terrorists stop our nation,so I want you to go shopping’,” she said. “He didn’t tell us to go out drinking or taking drugs.”

Bissinger’s decision to expose himself in GQ as a sexual dabbler,sometime cross-dresser,vagrant husband and man who when he hit rock bottom bought a $22,000 Gucci coat ,he explained in a written statement (he declined to be interviewed),was ultimately a selfless act,a means of “helping others who are struggling with addiction”.

It was the window Bissinger opened on addiction that made it an easy decision to publish the tale,said Jim Nelson,the editor in chief of GQ. “You just don’t see pieces like that,where someone is writing so close to the bone,” he said.

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