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Sign of the Times: The Kooples V. Carrie Bradshaw

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SARAH JESSICA PARKER NIGHTLINE
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If I had a quarter for every time I described my profession/lifestyle to people just to have them come back to me and quip, "Why, you're just like Carrie Bradshaw!" I'd have more Manolos than I'd know what to do with. Sex and style, those two little monosyllabic words that, for all our evolution as a gender, still dominate the minds of the post-pubescent female more than a decade-and-a-half since Carrie first met Mr. Big.

Fashion shows and soirees, photo shoots and blogger breakfasts, yes, I muse to myself as I wade through my flat littered with shopping bags, if devoid of what one could call a "masculine touch", life is pretty good. But then the cyber-saavy Carrie Bradshaw of 2011 puts one Miu Miu glitter boot outside her flat and bam, is literally run over by the reality bus. And that bus, my friends, has a Kooples ad smugly plastered across its bright red bulk.

The reality, dear ladies, is that it is not 2002 but on the eve of Spring/Summer 2012, and the world today is a very different place then it was then. From 9/11 to the economic collapse, tsunamis and near-nuclear disasters, the era of abundance is over, and so, it seems, is the heyday of the single girl a la Carrie Bradshaw, along with it.

There's just something about those Kooples ads, the nonchalant non-posed poses of the models, excuse me, "real people." An off duty catwalk girl and her beatnik bourgeois boyfriend looking cool as cats, his hand coyly slipped into hers while the words printed beneath read: "Anna and Lars have been a koople for three years." Great. Suddenly, all the Manolos in the world don't make up for the fact that you're not one black-jersey-and-leather-clad-half of a grunge chic his 'n' hers.

And that's the simple genius of it. The Kooples campaigns have tapped precisely into the zeitgeist of the moment and, not surprisingly, in just two years have met with tremendous success in their homeland France and now Britain as a result. And my sneaking suspicion is, when they do venture across the Atlantic, they'll take the Big Apple (and by Big Apple, I mean Brooklyn) by storm too.

The success story of the Kooples is a culturally curious one, as it suggests that the beating pulse of the young "cool" aesthetic has now expanded to include a menswear repertoire to stand opposite the women's: the couple has become a commodity. In Carrie's day, campaigns were all about high power women, marketing to her. Now, in these cash-strapped times, the marketing targets him as well--a hipster boyfriend, it seems, is 2011's "it bag."

This leveraging of the duo over the diva is not surprising given the current political and economic climate; as consumer confidence plummets, notions of stability become preferable to those of freedom. Society shrinks back into a more conservative mode of thinking and functioning - which means young people tend to get married younger. Just look at the current landscape of American reality television programming which is literally overrun with shows about marriage match-making (The Bachelor, The Bacherlorette, Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?) and borderline schizophrenic brides-to-be (Bridalplasty, Say Yes To The Dress). Until Jennifer took up with Justin, we nearly canonised her for surviving singledom into her forties post-Brangelina. And Demi's recent fall from marital bliss has us all rethinking the siren call of the cougar phenomenon.

It's not that I'm saying women have regressed, because we haven't. But when people dawn upon their recognition of Miss Bradshaw in me, the looks in their faces register SATC 2...the movie, rather than the glory days of the small screen. We no longer live in a world where monogamy (according to Samantha) is an "airborne" disease. Now, it's a coveted prize to be won at the end of the reality show rainbow, dispensed in lieu of shiny new convertibles or jetskis at the hands of Chris Harrison.

But the harsh reality is that we live in a world where it's hard to find (and subsequently keep) a job, where benefits are shrinking, mortgages defaulting and rents and inflation are ever on the rise. We need to couple up, to lean on one another for moral support, not to mention split rent and utilities. And that's the thing about the Kooples campaign, as Maud and Alexandre (a koople for four months, FYI), whiz passed you down Oxford Street, you can't help but identify with them just as much as you envy them.

They're standing on the street instead of a studio (just like you), dressed super cool (not just like you), but casually (back to just like you again). Nothing flashy, no overt branding, no bling-- just deft layering, slouchy t-shirts, the odd leather piece and some damn good looking skinny jeans. They're just regular people navigating this increasingly complex and harsh world (just like you).

So I think, if Carrie were still strutting about in her single stilettos today, instead of basking in bitterness as the Kooples bus drove by, she'd remind us of some wisdom dispensed in the series finale: "[the most] exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." While the zeitgeist and current social climates these days may not be as kind to us single gals as when the Fab Four clinked their cosmos at the Meatpacking's latest and greatest, Carrie's message of female solidarity still rings true.

Even if you can't rush out and buy yourself a stubbly chinned, v-neck clad Julien of your very own, you can buy that biker jacket. And that slouchy cardigan. And those studded boots. If Carrie taught us millenial girls anything, it's that the most rewarding relationship of all is being in a healthy (and, hell, why not, hipster) koople with yourself.

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