Last month the long-hyped lifestyle/e-commerce site of Blake Lively went live. Preserve is both a catalogue of handmade, artisan-esqe products, recipes and ideas, as well as a place to hold on to a world fast disappearing.
As Blake says herself, ‘While the whole world races to keep up with technology, we tighten our laces, join the race, but our end goal is to preserve what’s already there.’ Not such a bad mission-statement, reflecting a yearning that many of us will emphasise with no matter how excited we are for the next iPhone.The name of the site may remind many of us of a village-fete jam and the subconscious connotation is perhaps not so off-kilter, as the site is a celebration of the home-made, natural and quaint.
Any whiff of the humble and pastoral however, is offset by the prices of the products on offer: $18 for an 8oz candle and $7 for a small tub of ketchup for example. The high prices are perhaps justified when you are informed that a percentage of each transaction will be donated to ‘Greater Good’, Blake’s philanthropic cause, working towards the Preserve team’s aim to provide 5,000 meals, 2,000 blankets and 2,700 hoodies to children across the United States.
Blake’s mission statement
Blake’s editor’s letter – written in a font usually saved for Year 6 science projects – attempts to outline the purpose and values of Preserve. In a refreshing display of humility, Blake writes at the start: ‘I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat.’ She writes that she is a student, not a teacher, and has set up the site to celebrate life, the United States, and the virtues of a curious mind. Blake tells us that ‘people with wisdom have stories to tell’. She follows this up with another nugget of knowledge, ‘Everyone has a story to tell’ – which seems to imply less that we are all wise, but that all the wise, are people.
Looking at ourselves
Of course, it is easy to sneer and scorn when celebrities create lifestyle sites. Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop.com, the ‘most trusted girlfriend on the web’, has received similar derision from media commentators, and Reese Witherspoon’s rumoured upcoming addition to the flock will likely suffer a similar fate. This is unfair, as the people who throw such criticism on these sites are not a separate segment of society to those who flick through style magazines lapping up what these celebrities are wearing, eating and doing.
Whether we admit it or not, many of us do revere these people and use their fashion and lifestyle as a guide for our own. Though we may no longer be pre-teens draping our walls in star posters such as these from Posterlounge, our susceptibility to seduction does not fade away with age. (Check out one artist’s impression of the worship of celebrities.) The problem comes when these celebrities adopt this role openly, by creating sites such as Preserve and goop.com, which are marketed to help us mimic the way they live. On these sites we are confronted with the naked truth of our own adulation. Our envy of their lives comes from a lack of self-esteem; a self-loathing that is flipped over to target those idols we hate to love.
Dispiriting, perhaps. Not to worry. Why not cheer yourself up with a pot of Blake’s Vegan Hot Fudge and a Bistro Apron to go with it. Altogether only $110.50.