In her delightful memoir, Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House (which I reviewed here), Meghan Daum pokes loving fun at herself, her mother, and everyone else smitten with house glamour and the redecorating and relocation it inspires. Among her insights is that:
In home ownership there are two realms: the visible and the invisible, the fun and the unfun, the parts for which there are paint chips and plant nurseries and catalogs filled with doorknobs and drawer pulls and reproductions of Art Deco light fixtures and the parts for which the only gratification is that your water is running and your lights are on.
Even if you find the perfect house, you eventually have no more space for new furniture or no more money (or time) for redecorating. The fun part is over and you're just fighting entropy.
Digital Dollhouse offers an escape: all the fun, visible stuff with none of the entropy fighting. (The room above is the office in my beach house.) Sounding a bit like Daum, founder and CEO Jesyca Durchin writes on the company's blog:
Are there 12 step programs for people addicted to design magazines? My heart races when I rush to my mail box just looking for the bright catalogues from which I will buy nothing. I love to dream about redecorating my kitchen (not that I am much of a cook.) Or even just arranging my dishes (and in my imagination they are always clean and matching) just so in their perfectly nestled cupboards. Currently we have a serious pot problem (not that kind) in our kitchen. The pots are lurking in a dark corner cabinet, piled incorrectly and ready to snap at an unsuspecting hand should you want to umm…boil an egg.
But in my dream dollhouse I can have glorious dishes and pottery and pots that won’t bite. In playing digital dollhouse I can arrange and re-arrange to my little hearts content. I don’t think about things like general contractors or the fact that our plumbing doesn’t allow for more than an intermittent drip in our kitchen should the sprinklers start going. In my dream kitchen, dishes are always new and glasses are always clean.
Digital Dollhouse, which has 289,000 members, is child-friendly--it hit big last October, when Mattel added it to Barbie.com's online game network--but its most adept and obsessed designers are adults.
Below is a room called "Glamorous", by Debbie McLaney, one of my favorite DDH designers. Those valances are made of pillows, illustrating one of the common themes of the best rooms: repurposing the rather limited elements available in DDH space to create the effects you want. (Here's an article about the technology behind the site.)
Here's another room, by designer nounoir, that not only uses the pillows-as-valance trick but also turns plates into recessed lighting and another pillow, on the bureau, into what I take to be a mirror or picture frame.
The physical laws governing DDH are different from those in the real world. Objects can only rotate on their vertical axes. Some can levitate while others stick to the walls or floor. You can hang a mirror on a window, for instance, but you can't put it on the ceiling. In this room, I used the levitation option to suggest wire plant holders.no cords on the lamps.
If you're a player of World of Warcraft (WoW), last Thursday was The Day. Thursday was the day when the Wrath of the Lich King Expansion Pack became available. In addition to allowing players to reach level 80 instead of 70 (as with most video games, WoW exists in a Spinal Tappian world where 11 is always better than 10...), the Lich King signals the arrival of barber shops in to this online world. Yes, now lovers of WoW and their online characters can express themselves with the style, cut, color, and length of their hair. Including facial hair.
In this game, one labors for endless hours to earn gold to buy... new outfits. And not just new clothes, but entire suites of goods that signal that you're moving up in the world, have friends in high places, an interesting personal life, and a good income.
While this addition may not seem significant to those with ready access to good personal grooming services, for each one of World of Warcraft's 11 million subscribers, finally having access to a (virtual) shave and haircut makes all the difference. You see, World of Warcraft is indeed an online fantasy role playing game, but it is much more than that. At its essence, it is a way for individuals to engage in the world of glamour. In this game, one labors for endless hours to earn gold to buy... new outfits. And not just new clothes, but entire suites of goods that signal that you're moving up in the world, have friends in high places, an interesting personal life, and a good income. Sound familiar? And then add to that expensive outfit a new hair style. A spiffy hat. A dye job. And perhaps even a special ring or cape. The addition of the barber shop opens up many more avenues for self-expression. And in as much as self-expression is a fundamental element in a our hierarchy of needs, WoW fills that space. At the end of the day, WoW's secret is that you reach a state of flow during your first ten minutes of play, and you stay in that state for the rest of your subscription. Haircuts matter.
Each character in WoW has 19 different equipment slots, each which can be filled with thousands and thousands of different items. Plus, you can have a pet and a horse and even a personal helicopter. In busier parts of the WoW universe, this leads to a street-level fashion scene that rivals anything you'd see in New York or Milan. In homage to The Sartorialist, let's take a walk around the hills and streets of Warcraft to capture some fashion plates in action:
Erudite Flyboy, Valiance Keep
Perfection of Patterns, IronForge
On the street... Eclectic at Fizzcrank Airstrip
At what price flow? Well, it'll cost you $40 for the Lich King upgrade, and $15 per month thereafter. Multiply those figures across 11 million subscribers, and you get gigantic streams of reliable cashflow. World of Warcraft is big business, a veritable machine for printing money. So big and influential in the way people use it as their dominant form of aesthetic expression, I'd argue, that we should stop thinking of it as part of the gaming industry, and start thinking of it as a leading player in the world of fashion. World of Warcraft gives people the same kick they would get from sporting an Armani (only better), and is even more effective at removing cash from their pockets. This glamour thing, it's a big deal.
Karl Lagerfeld branches out from his usual roles as designer, philosopher, and diet book author into a new genre--video games. In Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV, he's a radio host/DJ, on the K109 The Studio radio station, playing electronica and dance music, which was quite a switch for Liberty City citizens.(Take a listen after the jump.) The game will be available for PC in November, but be warned--he's never on-screen.
But wait! There's more.
Steiff, the venerable German toy company, has recently introduced the Karl Lagerfeld bear. Exclusive to Neiman Marcus, the retails for $1500 and features sunglasses and a KL blinged-out belt buckle. And curse the gods--only 2500 of the lush plushies will be made.
In W, Miles Socha got the gloved one (no, the other gloved one) to admit:
I never played with anything like toys. I wanted to be grown-up.
So, having achieved hyper-adulthood, Lagerfeld now decided to be immortalized in both pixels and plush?