Paul Owen is standing near the bar holding a champagne flute, studying his antique silver pocket watch (from Harnmahcher Schlemmer, no doubt), and I’m about to walk over and mention something about that damned Fisher account when Humphrey Rhinebeck bumps into me trying to avoid stepping on one of the elves and he’s still wearing a cashmere chesterfield overcoat by Crombie from Lord & Taylor, a peak-lapeled double-breasted wool tuxedo, a cotton shirt by Perry Ellis, a bow tie from Hugo Boss and paper antlers in a way that suggests he’s completely unaware, and as if by rote the twerp says, “Hey Bateman, last week I brought a new herringbone tweed jacket to my tailor for alterations.”
“Well, uh, congratulations seem in order,” I say, shaking his hand. “That’s…nifty.”
“Thanks.” He blushes, looking down. “Anyway, he noticed that the retailer had removed the original label and replaced it with one of his own. Now what I want to know is, is this legal?”
“It’s confusing, I know,” I say, still moving through the crowd. “Once a line of clothing has been purchased from its manufacturer, it’s perfectly legal for the retailer to replace the original label with his own. However, it’s not legal to replace it with another retailer’s label.”
“But wait, why is that?” he asks, trying to sip from his martini glass while attempting to follow me.
“Because details regarding fiber content and country of origin or the manufacturer’s registration number must remain intact. Label tampering is very hard to detect and rarely reported,” I shout over my shoulder. Courtney is kissing Paul Owen on the cheek, their hands already firmly clasped. I stiffen up and stop walking. Rhinebeck bumps into me. But she moves on, waving to someone across the room.
“So what’s the best solution?” Rhinebeck calls out behind me.
“Shop for familiar labels from retailers you know and take those fucking antlers off your head, Rhinebeck. You look like a retard. Excuse me.” I walk off but not before Humphrey reaches up and feels the headpiece. “Oh my god.”