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Should I have inherited some of my husband’s state pension after his death? The lobby of top London legal firm Mishcon de Reya increasingly echoes with the clacking of Jimmy Choo stilettos. Wives who fear that a deep downturn in the City could slice into alimony payments are heading for the office of Sandra Davis, head of the firm’s family practice, sooner rather than later. The trophy wives who married for money are starting to cash in their chips,’ she told Financial Mail. When money looks like flying out of the window, love walks out the door. In the week that Bank of England Governor Mervyn King warned that the UK might be heading for protracted economic hardship, the increasing numbers of expensively dressed women arriving at Mishcon’s HQ in Red Lion Square, central London, may be the final proof that the recession is already here. It might appear to be a cynical view, but the desertion rate of wives is being seen as a reaction to the ecoindustry’s nomic uncertainty in the City – the latest finger-in-the-wind indicator to back up economists’ assumptions about the impact of the credit crunch.
Davis herself does not point to footfall at Mishcon as the ultimate sign and she cautions that the sound of stilettos is not yet a stampede. King has to concern himself with traditional fiscal measures of downturn – further evidence of which will come with gloomy retail sales figures this week – but economists have long had unusual ways of detecting early signs of trouble. One bellwether is an increase in lipstick sales. When circumstances are tight, women spurn expensive new dresses and shoes in favour of more modest retail therapy.
Quarterly figures from make-up giants L’Oreal and Estee Lauder show that despite strain in most areas of US department store spending, lipstick sales rose in the past three months. Nicola White, 23, moved to London from Leeds four months ago and works in the House of Fraser department store in Oxford Street, central London. I am watching my finances at the moment, but still I want to indulge myself,’ she said. Buying an inexpensive treat like a lipstick gives me instant satisfaction and lifts an outfit without my having to purchase a new pair of shoes or a bag, which can be expensive.