I bit my tongue as Sydney’s Chinese real estate queen Monika Tu, the woman who sells $30 million mansions to wealthy foreigners, had herself filmed unwrapping a constant stream of luxury gifts from her many adoring clients as mum and dad businesses went bust and thousands of suddenly unemployed were forming queues outside social security centres.
I recently poked fun at former cricketer Michael Clarke and his new girlfriend, the active-wear designer Pip Edwards, who “launched” their relationship at Randwick races, for over-sharing their glamorous and seemingly carefree life of superyachts and champagne on social media.
While Edwards remains miffed, Clarke ended up sending me a text thankful for the “constructive” feedback I’d given his manager, who had also called after the piece.
Mid-year I upset a few old contacts by posting a smiley face emoji wearing a face mask after photos were shared from a luncheon held in the garden of a Sydney mansion attended by several high profile media and public relations types kissing and hugging as half the country was going into lockdown.
And I am pretty close to unfollowing the over-hyped darling of luxury labels Nadia Fairfax, Sydney’s much celebrated “influencer”.
I admire and like Fairfax, who over the past couple of years she has built a career out of pretty much nothing and has worked hard at it, becoming a fully-fledged Sydney socialite and much coveted fashionista in the process. Yet I truly believe she – along with many others – failed to read the social media room this year.
Even as the latest northern beaches COVID cluster sent a cold chill through Sydney and the rest of Australia last week – effectively ruining Christmas for thousands of people – over on the #PartyWithNardy Instagram feed it was all about yet another over-styled phoney party, this one a mock Christmas celebration, and once again featuring the same group of genetically-blessed and privileged women who seem to be at all her other events.
Indeed this is a pretty small and exclusive club, and one can’t help feeling that’s how they want to keep it: tightly controlled to ensure nothing spontaneous upsets the corporate benefactors underwriting it all in the name of product endorsement.
“WHERE THE CHICKS WERE LIT AND THE TIMES WERE MERRY,” Fairfax wrote, in CAPS, on Instagram, which on my feed was followed by a friend’s heartbreaking post about not being able to see her elderly dad in a nursing home on Christmas Day.
Then there are those who – unlike Fairfax – don’t need to post anything to earn a living, like Fairfax’s good friend, Aussie Homes heiress Deborah Symond O’Neil, who posts daily selfies in her latest designer outfits and documents her gorgeous “tablescaped” luncheons in colour-coded detail (often featuring the same gals as at Fairfax’s parties).
Meanwhile Lowes menswear heir Joshua Penn is constantly showing off the family’s luxurious, Vaticanesque mansion, without a hint of irony that much of it was paid for with the proceeds of budget-conscious fashion for the everyday man who could only ever dream of living in such splendour.
Both O’Neil and Penn are very pleasant people, but I am not alone in cringing at their social media offerings showing off their good fortune in life.
Surely after 2020 true luxury is not what brand of handbag you carry or what champagne you serve at dinner?
At least for me luxury more than ever is things money can’t buy: Good health. Security. Happiness. Love.
Now that’s worth posting about.
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.