Coco Cartier and Ezili Lagerfeld, Voodoo Chanel (2011)

Brand power is interesting because brands are power. They can attract money and votes. They can set the conditions for certain types of behaviour. Even weapons have brands.

This show makes a target out of one luxury fashion brand and at first you wonder why. It is after all only a designer label. Chanel is not slashing the NHS or sending people to war.

What Chanel does, however, is create a market for luxury. It belongs to an elite and is one of the ways this elite recognise themselves. And the rest of us can just aspire.

Subvert the brand and you subvert the hierarchy, at least that would appear to be the equation. But the project here seems also something of a celebration of this label, a tribute to its fetish power.

This system of ours doesn’t run on a rational subscription to free market economics. Global capitalism thrives on magic and superstition, because people, being what they are, like such things.

So it comes down to a choice between the high priests of the boardroom and the low priests of the shanty. And if the latter seem a frightening prospect, don’t worry. They’ve got a brand now too.

Voodoo Chanel can be seen at Grey Area, Brighton, until 27 March. See gallery website for more details.

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