“The existence of Preserve makes no sense at all. It’s basically just Blake Lively smushing together her Pinterest page with her blogging obsession (xoxo) and combining it with a market place where people who-would-just-about-fucking-kill-to-have-her-life can purchase small little segments of it. It’s like she’s put price tags on all of her most popular Pins. Why? Because she can afford to. It’s Etsy for the Housewives of Beverly Hills. A twee junkyard for the rich”.
Every weekend there’s a farmers market on the lane by my house. In order to do the Saturday morning walk to the supermarket to try and grab the last remnants of decent bread from the clearance section and some own brand orange juice (90% sugar, 5% water, 5% fruit. 100% MORNING FUEL) you have to wade through the tumult of rich people squeezing their BMW’s up into parking spaces that shouldn’t really exist and delirious people paying over the odds for artisan olives, speciality bread and bits of varnished bark that dudes with impeccable (but stylishly scruffy) moustaches call ‘upcycling’.
£7 for a small tub of organically sourced olives served in a drizzle of olive oil infused with a healthy portion of smugness? Hows about a nice upcycled log that you can add to your pedestal whilst you enjoy that? Technically that item is 100% profit since it came from nature, and £150 is a little steep, but fuck it – TAKE MY MONEY YOU GENIUSES.
Blake Lively’s new lifestyle blog and store is basically the online version of all the pompous artisan markets you never hope to attend, replete with the same nonsensical word garbage attempting to sell you not just a load of expensive tatt but also an entire lifestyle. It’s so Serena Van Der Woodsen that its unreal.
There’s been plenty of snark heavy articles written already against Lively and her one stop shop for indulgent, self-righteous consumerism, and it’s all perfectly valid. It’s the vanity project of a woman with too much money and too much time. From an outside observer it feels like Lively has become that tired cliché: The woman who marries a successful, rich dude and quits her own successful career in the process to become a supportive full time housewife whilst enjoying all the luxuries and indulgance that life can afford her.
Blake Lively was never a great actress and maybe her acting career’s taken a stall precisely for that reason. Maybe she never quit but was simply getting offered the same old shit roles that beautiful blondes in Hollywood always get lumped with: stripper, (hot) body fodder in a horror film, sexy co-worker or love interest. Or maybe she just really, really wanted to become an online retailer and lifestyle columnist. Whatever.
The point is Preserve is a diabolical affirmation of aspirational lifestyles. It rejoices in it’s own wealth, as though the rich are a community persecuted for their endless greed and they’re frankly sick of having to play it down for the rest of us. But it’s okay guys. Lively gets it. In fact in a section called ‘Greater Good’, Blake attempts to provide some balance via philanthropy. All fairness to her, this is at least a step in the right direction, but all the copy reads so deliriously awful – so patronising and chock full of guilt ridden syntax that stumbles awkwardly through the page like a drunken mistress making a speech at her lovers wedding – that it comes off as insincere. Another marketing ploy, like when celebrities get behind massive fundraising events more to improve their public image than to actually help anybody.
Seriously, get a load of this:
“Doing good” is often looked at with a cynical eye. For good reason. Much of it is a selfish act— it feels good, it sounds good, it can be quite self-congratulatory. While it is personally rewarding, there is an impact to be made when we can step back and acknowledge the truths in the motivation— not only the selfish ones, but the ones bred of a genuine desire to be there for others, others who don’t regularly have the fortunate opportunities that we do each day.
Let us be clear. We are a for-profit business.
Loud and clear! Please, B – as one of those unfortunate people who don’t regularly have the fortunate opportunities that you do each and every day, do go on!
We celebrate and indulge in the treasures both high and low that we feature on Preserve. We are aware that a lot of what we are selling is outlandish in a world where people are starving and have nowhere to sleep. This is a real problem. One that even on our high horse we can’t ignore. This is our community. Each of ours.
We have set our first goal of giving 5,000 children a meal, 2,000 children a blanket, and 2,700 children a warm hoodie, all within the U.S.
We’re a small, but growing company. Our giving reflects our age. As we mature so will our contribution both fiscally and physically.
We acknowledge that we are human and are flawed. But please accept, our intention is to do something pure. So we ask you, let this be a conversation. Help us grow. Help us give. Please critique us, teach us and be patient with us in the process, as ultimately we are all in this, this spinning sphere, together.
So, essentially, TL;DR – We’re indulgent. We’d love to give more of our profit to charity, but then how could we keep up our lifestyles? Stop shitting yourselves over it. We’re giving a little back to the community! The more you buy the more we can give! And hey, if we can make a little more pocket money out of it, then why the fuck not? We’re giving blankets to homeless kids for fucksakes. Have a little heart.
The whole thing reminds me way too much of all the charity benefits that Serena was involved with in Gossip Girl that were actually just snide cover events for manipulating people into ruining their lives (seriously, one of my favourite things about GG is that every episode pretty much ended with a party where someone gets outed for some kind of scandal, arrested, caught having sex with someone they shouldn’t be or actual death). I just wish that Georgina Sparks were involved in Preserve. She’d sabotage the shit out of it.
Moving swiftly on – the ‘articles’ themselves are shocking. In one a lowly, tattooed musician sounds like he gets hounded by Blake Lively personally to do a spot of modelling and is photographed and oddly profiled with a mawkish gaze – as if they’ve captured and pinned him behind a frame of glass. A tattooed butterfly that Lively invites all her dinner guests to squint at between courses. ‘Isn’t he perfect?’ She would say ‘We found him travelling between Nashville and LA for a gig, and now he’s ours! Isn’t he precious?!’ They pay him to model for them (urgh, it’s so Derelicte it’s unreal) and the end result is about as convincing as the American accents store models are paid to put on in Abercrombie & Finch.
There’s another piece where a bloke called Terry Reynolds (who I can only assume must be of some relation to hubby Ryan) writes an entire piece about mastering the art of the bow tie, as if it’s a lost genetic in the evolution of ME GRUNT ME MAN. A confusing piece titled ‘Backwoods Barbie’ seems to desperately want to position itself as a battle cry of womanhood, but loses its way from the first sentence onwards by lumping women into the same definition as ‘little girls’ and condemns us all to a life where ‘playing dress up’ and getting to ‘cry in public’ until the decrepit grand old age of 30 (when we’re officially OLD, d’uh) is about as good as our chromosomes can afford us.
There’s some fashion photography to accompany that piece that bears little relation to any of the words puked up before it. There’s a white tie dye denim jacket involved that I would happily pay her to burn.
Even through all of this though – and there’s a lot of horror to take in, trust me – I find myself feeling bad for Lively. She’s become the new Gwyneth Paltrow. The latest butt of the joke. She is the viral punchline currently positioned between two hallowed mirrors that echo the kind of snarky, bitter laughter back and forth that you hear from girls who are secretly jealous of you in school (or at least that’s what all the grown ups told me when I was 12). I don’t care how rich or beautiful you are, that shit must sting.
But it’s so hard to be kind about any of it. Whilst for the most part the shop is surprisingly restrained for its prices (and this from someone who objects to paying more than 2 quid for a cup of coffee), the goods are exactly the sort of mish mash of random tatt, fake vintage and ‘artisan’ produce which have become fashionable to sell at extortionate prices right across the retail spectrum. You can’t move these days for all the ‘authentic’ looking junk with a fat price tag hung on stylish wooden coat hangers in minimalist, airy spaces. There’s no consistency to any of the products, either. The stock ranges from ‘artisan salt collections’ to something called a ‘short cup’ which just looks like something I once made out of playdough when I was 6, all the way through to sleeveless hoodies, floral dresses and wooden things in the shape of stuff meant to represent patriotism and love that you hang on your wall, apparently.
The existence of Preserve makes no sense at all. It’s basically just Blake Lively smushing together her Pinterest page with her blogging obsession (xoxo) and combining it with a market place where people who-would-just-about-fucking-kill-to-have-her-life can purchase small little segments of it. It’s like she’s put price tags on all of her most popular Pins. Why? Because she can afford to. It’s Etsy for the Housewives of Beverly Hills. A junkyard for the rich. How twee. How cute. How precious.
The main affront of the whole thing has nothing to do with poor old deluded Blake Lively, though. It’s that aspirational lifestyles are still something that are being sold to us. It feels like Sex and the City bucked the trend, and before you could even say ‘What the fuck is this? A Cosmo? I wanted a beer, you dick!’ there were gaggles of women buying into that shit and maxing out their credit cards for it-bags and designer shoes completely beyond their yearly salaries, women obsessed with never wearing the same outfit twice for their Saturday night out on the town (just like characters in TV shows or red carpet darlings) and emulating the opulent lifestyles of fictional characters and celebrities who may as well be fictional too for how their flawless public personas are created for the media.
Women who believe that they can achieve elements of fantasy – the design of writers, stylists, celebrities and tabloids – the facade of perfection. Women who would probably give anything to find that rich, successful dude to marry who can help to fund all of this madness and save them from the effort of ever having to define themselves without the help of a credit card splurge or a man. Mrs Ryan Reynolds appears to have done that, and look how great she’s doing. She even has her own website now!
So, yeah – I beg of you, Blake. Stop what you’re doing. Don’t sell that shit to us. We don’t need it. You were a great trash TV actress so for the love of all that isn’t Artisan crap get back on screen and bitch face the shit out of it. Like you said – we’re all on this spinning sphere together. And by spinning sphere, you totally meant the never ending whirl of a load screen for a Gossip Girl stream, right? Of course you did. Right there with you, sister. xoxo