Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pay up. Now. (please)

In January 1787, rumors spread through Paris that the celebrated fashion merchant Rose Bertin had filed for bankruptcy.  Her royal and aristocratic clientele was famously negligent in payment of their accounts (Commerce and its tawdry exchange of cash are so nouveau riche, darling.) and it was speculated that Mademoiselle Bertin had started the rumor herself to pressure her customers to pay their bills.

Some who'd witnessed her ascent were smugly pleased at the prospect of her descent.


"The empire of fashion is experiencing a great cataclysm. Mademoiselle Bertin, so proud, so high, so insolent even, who worked with Her Majesty, mademoiselle Bertin displaying on her bills in large letters: Fashion merchant to the queen; mademoiselle Bertin has just gone bankrupt. It is true that her bankruptcy is not at all plebeian, it is the bankruptcy of a great lady, two million! ... We are assured that mademoiselle Bertin will cede to all the tears and continue her business."
* written by the Baronne d'Oberkirch

In his diary, a bookseller named Hardy claims that Bertin sometimes resorted to such ploys and on this occasion immediately received a note for 400,000 livres from the royal coffers.






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