Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, chocolate chip cookie peddler and preferred shopping destination of Hilary Banks, has just unleashed its 86th annual “Christmas Book” catalog. And, per usual, all eyes aren’t on the raccoon fur hats and $85 tins of candied apricots. It’s the publicity-grabbing "Fantasy Gifts" section — basically, a condensed version of the SkyMall catalog but geared towards folks who own 150-foot yachts and dancing horses — that once again has jaws dropping and eyes rolling.
In the past, Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts have included his-and-her hot air balloons, Lucite bathtubs with built-in aquariums, mermaid suits (swimming lessons included), gold toilet seats, Valentino gowns, Jack Nicklaus-designed backyard golf courses, and enough fresh caviar to gag a well-heeled horse. And let us not forget a rather insane Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift from the early 1970s: a truckload of pink air. How very luxurious!
This year’s opulent offerings for the one percent are fairly predictable: a water-propelled jet pack ($99,500), a limited-edition McLaren sports car in “volcano red” ($354,000), a walk-on role in “Annie: The Musical” ($30,000), and the tailgate trailer to end all tailgate trailers ($150,000). And given that more and more Americans are turning toward at-home food production and exploring other means of self-sufficiency in these lean times, Neiman Marcus has also opted to include perhaps the trendiest of all new agrarian accessories as a Fantasy Gift selection: a hen house.
Of course, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill backyard chicken coop. Oh no. This posh poultry pied-à-terre that's designed for only the hautest of hens — it makes William-Sonoma’s $900 coop look positively low-rent — will set you back $100,000.
Dawn breaks. The hens descend from their bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house to their playground below for a morning wing stretch. Slipping on your wellies, you start for the coop and are greeted by the pleasant clucking of your specially chosen flock and the site of the poshest hen house ever imagined. Your custom-made multilevel dwelling features a nesting area, a ‘living room’ for nighttime roosting, a broody room, a library filled with chicken and gardening books for visitors of the human kind, and, of course, an elegant chandelier. The environment suits them well as you notice the fresh eggs awaiting morning collection. Nearby, you pick fresh vegetables or herbs from your custom-built raised gardens. You've always fancied yourself a farmer—now thanks to Heritage Hen Farm, you're doing it in the fanciest way possible!
Good grief — furs, Ferraris, and, now, fancy farming. Now all you need is a pair of $600 Stuart Weitzman boots and a $7,750 fox fur vest to experience full faux farmer-dom from the comfort of your
backyard estate. Okay, maybe not that last one as you wouldn’t want to offend your newly acquired brood.
In addition to the custom-built digs — the "Beau Coop" comes complete with waterer, feeder, grazing trays, and chandelier — $100K will also get you two custom-designed vegetable or herb raised garden beds to complement the coop. But that’s not all, folks … Because not just any old chicken is worthy of such Versailles-inspired luxury, Svetlana Simon of Florida’s Heritage Hen Farm will also handpick three to 10 heritage-bred cluckers to take up residence in the coop. Simon will visit your property for an initial consultation and “grounds survey” and return for two follow-up visits. She elaborates on the Heritage Hen Farm Facebook page: "We'll hold the future farmer's hand as we teach how to raise a healthy flock, to compost from hen house to garden bed, grow veggies and herbs for their table and flock, sprout legumes, fodder and rotate pasture trays and experience the reward of permaculture."
I should also point out that with each purchase of the Heritage Hen Mini Farm, Neiman Marcus will donate $3,000 to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, an organization that ensures "the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry."
Delivery is not included.
Although most Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts from past years primarily involve the pelts of dead animals, this isn't the first time the retailer has sold live animals in some shape or form through its Christmas catalog. The very first Fantasy Gift — back in 1952 — was a live Black Angus bull that came complete with a sterling silver barbecue cart and price tag of $1,925. In 2008, the catalog included a $10 million thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky.
Despite the lovely message and lovely cause, the only person on Earth that I can actually picture buying a chicken coop with such an exorbitant price tag is fellow Versailles admirer David Siegel. I think it would be the perfect gift for his wife, Jackie. Tending chickens would be a great distraction from the kids and save her from the humiliation of having to buy eggs at Walmart.