Culture

This woman’s closet turned me into a revolutionary

A new video series about “extravagant closets” is ready to incite a class war.

Culture

This woman’s closet turned me into a revolutionary

A new video series about “extravagant closets” is ready to incite a class war.
Culture

This woman’s closet turned me into a revolutionary

A new video series about “extravagant closets” is ready to incite a class war.

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s littered with inane videos designed for social sharing. The videos are always the same, at least in form if not in substance: clips highlighting absurd things people will watch, “LIKE and SHARE,” and quickly forget about. I usually don’t give them a second thought, because they don’t usually give you much to think about. But one video has been playing on a loop in my mind for a week: A tour of a woman’s massive, opulent closet.

The video is part of a new series by INSIDER, Business Insider’s social-video powerhouse, called Bonkers Closets, which showcases the “biggest, blingiest, boldest closets around the world.” The first episode, which aired last week and has already racked up nearly 33 million views, highlights the “extravagant closet” of “Insta-famous Singaporean socialite” Jamie Chua. Her closet is 700 square feet, which is a rounding error away from the size of my entire apartment, and contains more than 200 Hermes bags. Chua’s closet is protected by fingerprint access, which sounds insane until you realize the value of all the stuff in her closet is more than the average person makes in a decade.

“It’s still not enough for me,” Chua says before showing off her collection of very expensive jackets. “I need more closet space.” Captions tell you how much certain items cost. Chanel glitter dress jacket: $8,899. Gucci silk bomber jacket: $4,980. Rami Kadi custom gown, which weighs 66 pounds: $27,000. (Where does she wear this gown, and the other gowns she has? “I wear them to the balls,” she says. ) The total cost of the 22 items shown? $247,324.

Chua is very polite, if not outright nice, and also kind of funny. She says she always dresses well in case she runs into her worst enemy, which is relatable even to those of us who do not have a single Hermes bag to our names. When asked if she’s the best-dressed woman in Singapore, she declines to comment — “Self praise is no praise,” she says. I wanted to like her, because otherwise I would hate her. There’s only a brief description of what Chua does for a living (“socialite,” “entrepreneur,” owns a skincare line), but that doesn’t explain where her money comes from. (After a very public divorce, Chua reportedly got her ex-husband, Indonesian billionaire Nurdian Cuaca, to give her a $332,000 monthly alimony.) There isn’t much information on what Cauca’s money come from, either — all I managed to find was “real estate” and “investments,” which can mean literally anything.

INSIDER’s entire strategy — unquestioning, un-critical videos of cool stuff — would fall apart if they bothered to raise any of these questions, or even hinted at a tone that wasn’t outright adulation of whatever they were covering. Other social-first videos have a similar tone, but are merely a mild annoyance. (I don’t care about a restaurant that serves milkshakes topped with an entire cheesecake, but someone out there does, and that cheesecake-topped-milkshake isn’t hurting anyone.)

Bonkers Closets, however, is an abomination. It’s a celebration of excessive, outlandish wealth, of people who have so much money and so little connection to the real world that they buy a pair of teeny tiny bags at $11,000 a pop and then laugh about how useless they are. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have nice things, but we are reaching pre-Revolutionary France levels of rich people bragging about their cool shit while most people struggle. The reviews are mixed: Some people wonder why Chua has so much money while others “are dying because of poverty and hunger,” and others tell those losers to shut up and enjoy the show, because for all we know she’s also a philanthropist. “I hope she gets a closet in heaven or wherever she goes on her death,” one seemingly earnest comment reads. “It will be a waste if she can't bring all these on the afterlife.”

The next episode is a bit closer to home: The “disco-themed” closet of Jackie Siegel, self-proclaimed twenty-first century Queen of Versailles, wife to the multi-millionaire owner of Westage Resorts, and subject of a 2012 documentary about how difficult her life became after the 2008 Recession, when she had to lay off her “servants” and halt construction on her 90,000-square foot home. If there is supposed to be some irony here, the teasers don’t indicate it.

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