Sir Elton John Performs live on stage in a sparkly tuxedo.

Somehow, Elton John’s Absurd Selfridges Collection Is Not a Parody of the Uber-Rich

The UK is in the midst of a cost of living crisis, but while food bank usage goes up and up and people can’t afford to heat their houses, it’s business as usual for the hyper-wealthy—and nothing underscores this so much as Elton John’s bizarre new Selfridges collection.

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A pink heart shape rug with black lettering that says "Are you ready for love?"

The Selfridges luxury department store is hosting a mini museum exhibit in its Corner Shop dedicated to the pop legend, with iconic costumes from his live performances surrounded by some of the most overpriced, ridiculous items you can imagine. Fancy a monogrammed (for Elton of course, not for you) silk bathrobe for nearly £1750? How about a suitcase for £1900? If that’s too expensive for you don’t worry, you can always spend £75 for something for your guests to wipe their feet on with this doormat:

A brown doormat with the words "The bitch is back" on it in black.

It’s not that conspicuous consumption, even during periods of widespread poverty is a new thing, and Selfridges business model has always been overpriced luxuries. What makes this such a standout, infuriating example is how ridiculous or basic some of these items really are. £250 for a candle. £315 pounds for a rug the size of a bath mat. £40 for a small box of chocolates, though at least the design (a 3D grand piano) is sort of cool, unlike a lot of the other stuff, which looks like a teenager just starting out on Redbubble put it together before they got the hang of what does and doesn’t work. It’s not just that rich people are willing to drop ludicrous amounts of money on things they don’t need, it’s that they’re willing to spend it on this.

A white candle shaped like a platform boot with a box behind it. The box has a line drawing of the candle on it and Elton in large gold text.

Like Tiffany’s infamous sterling silver tin can, many of the objects in this collection look like a parody of the things extremely rich people do while everyone else is struggling to feed themselves, yet somehow isn’t. Satire is dead and its corpse is on sale at Selfridges for more than the average person’s rent.

I’m going to admit that some of the things in the collection are kind of cool. The sunglasses and handbags are gorgeous, quirky, and really capture the essence of John’s on-stage style. They’re eye-wateringly expensive too, of course, but it’s the kind of expense you’d expect for something like that – something well-made and lovely with a designer label attached. Not £90 for an E monogrammed sleep mask or £435 for a cheap-looking hoodie. I also want to make it clear that this isn’t an Elton problem, he’s part of it of course but this isn’t a one-person thing, this is a class issue. His collection is just such a blatant example that I had to stop and stare at it and wonder if I was being pranked.

A white hoodie with a disproportionately small photograph of Elton John in the middle of the chest.
This costs FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY U.S. dollars! (Selfridges)

I also have to wonder, who is this even for? Because while a lot of us love camp and kitsch, most queers sure as hell don’t have this kind of money, and of those who do, do they even want this? It seems like most affluent people are still absolutely obsessed with soulless neutrals and minimalism, and of those who don’t all of their interior design still takes itself very seriously. Is there room for the loud, bright, fun of classic queer aesthetics? Are people with Selfridges budgets going to let any of this collection inside their homes, or is it all just a weird art piece that they’re not actually expecting anyone to buy? Or is Elton so out of touch with the wider queer community that he really thinks the people who’d love some of this stuff can afford it—and everyone else involved went along with it because an Elton John collection would bring press attention, as well as potential new customers popping in just to see?

It’s giving pre-1789 Versaille and Marie Antoinette cosplaying as a shepherdess. It’s giving complete detachment from the world outside of their privileged bubble. I doubt it’s intended as an insult, because an insult would actually require them to think about everyone else as people, rather than a resource that makes their products, serves their lattes, and does all the other undervalued work they don’t want to. But if it’s not an insult it definitely feels like one.

(featured image: Sir Elton John Performs live on stage)

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Siobhan Ball
Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.