Fabienne, I think that the story about your secretary is actually a compliment to her. Â She chose something because she liked the look of it, not because she was aping the upper classes. Â It seems she'd be knocked for the latter and cast as a poseur(euse), but why should she be pitied because she doesn't know Louis Vuitton? Â She is simply in another shopping universe - one that is equally trend-saturated, but fairly insulated from the luxury products that drive the trends on the top-line. I'm not saying that she followed the forum's advice - know quality, buy the best you can, eschew labels (tho' we are label-whores as well, but of a more esoteric order) - but she made a decision based on pattern and design. Â I'd say that only the very first purchasers of a new LV product (the ones who buy before they are SURE that it is a hit, when it is just VERY LIKELY to be a hit, but could still flop) truly buy it for the design rather than the fact that it is a status symbol.
OK, I didn't dig deep into that one, but my perception is that, indeed, in her world, those D&B (or whatever they are called) bags have a similar status to the LV bags in other spheres. And I actually thought along the same lines as what you said, after she said she didn't know Louis Vuitton. It was refreshing and disconcerting. I never ever shop for labels. I go for what I like if the quality is there. I have two bags by Lancaster, and everywhere I go, I get comments about them, especially the red one. Lancaster is not very well known in this country. They are not top of the line. But: they are durable (I've thrown them in the back of the car-no scratch yet), stylish, practical. Even my mother-in-law, who carries Coach and LV, admired it so much, we bought her one in France. I have never seen her wear it.
I wonder if it has to do with the fact that it wouldn't be identified, where she lives. The last time she came to visit, she had a red Coach bag very similar to mine.