Harper's bizarre

Where are the pizza boxes and polo shirts? A fashion mag shoots Silicon Valley and finds Prada in the cubes.

Published March 22, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

A purple Prada purse made of ostrich skin rests on the desk next to a blue iMac. A redheaded nymphet in head-to-toe Chanel fiddles with the mouse, while her co-worker in the Yves Saint Laurent python coat sits in the next cube over. "A wild python coat keeps a workstation looking sharp!" exclaims the caption.

Yes, this is the life of a Silicon Valley start-up, as seen through the optimistic eyes of Harper's Bazaar: Snakeskin and stilettos. If only.

Harper's Bazaar is calling its April issue "the dotcom issue," the first fashion magazine to devote an entire issue to the topic of getting wired (as the cover puts it). Were you thinking you'd get the Industry Standard with ads for Calvin Klein instead of Compaq? Hardly.

The issue, not surprisingly, doesn't concern itself much with technology or entrepreneurialism: A mere half a page is dedicated to Q&As with notable Net divas like Stacy Horn and Pattie Maes, while the rest of the issue addresses more stylish "wired" issues -- will you be able to pre-order Fendi purses online? And is it appropriate for girl geeks to wear track pants with those beige suede Manolo Blahniks? There are a few spreads of expensive techno-gadgets (who knew Louis Vuitton sold a PalmPilot case?) and stories breaking the astonishing news that you can now buy lobsters and read fashion news online!

The main feature of the issue addresses the question: Are there gold diggers lurking around Silicon Valley hoping to marry a millionaire?
(Think "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" for the techno set.)
To answer this pressing question, a reporter visited a handful of San Francisco parties one evening and came up with a scornful profile of adorable "PR bunnies" and the supposedly amour-apathetic Net executives who (God forbid) wear windbreakers. Is there gold-digging in them thar dive bars? The Harper's Bazaar verdict: maybe, maybe not

Granted, this is a fashion magazine -- what else can you expect when a publication that usually contemplates the significance of Gucci's mink-trimmed leather pants turns its eagle eye on the strange world of geeks who actually own Birkenstocks? Perhaps we should be thankful that Bazaar's "Generation Net" is less worried about the liquidity of B2B venture capital, and more focused on the meaningful things in life, like cheap Kelly bags available on eBay. Someone has to do it.

By Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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