Many recently closed borders around the world are suddenly breaking open and the kind of people who love to cross them for pleasure are ready. The number of travelers passing through American security checkpoints each day is now closer to the boom days of 2019 than the little trickle that was sampled and scanned a year ago.
This means that for the first time in a while, many people are looking at the expiration dates of their dusty passports and maybe get an unpleasant surprise: it’s time to renew. No!
All photos are complex, but the passport photo – an image through which you interact with government, borders, and your own citizenship – is especially electrifying. It’s also generally and notoriously unflattering.
Rimowa, the very expensive German luggage brand currently owned by French luxury group LVMH, promises to change all that – for free. A new sign in the window of the Prince Street Store in SoHo invites you to an “elevated” and “reinvented passport photo experience”. No appointment necessary!
Help yourself inside the photo booth, which is hidden directly behind a lonely metal pillar. Please, New Yorkers and tourists, do not use this rare and tiny hideaway for sex, drugs, or bowel movements.
As you slide around that metallic pillar into the sleek little white capsule of a photo booth, you are faced with a screen that shows where your eyes (and of course your eyes’ friend, the skull) should be. You have a countdown of eight to compose yourself.
The cabin is small and bathed in white, shadow-free light. It will blow away all imperfections and wash you in a cold German ambience: a real Juergen Teller experience.
The “photo” (technically this can be a representation of a photo? A machine-assisted selfie?) Is displayed on a screen. You can repeat as many times as you want until you are satisfied or start hating yourself.
You can then print it out and have it sent to you by email.
Why would that expensive retail property full of equally expensive suitcases give you this gift? Perhaps because by taking advantage of the offer, you may also be choosing the Rimowa email marketing ecosystem. And maybe because, if you are feeling pretty and cultured enough now, later, when time and luck have smiled on you and your business and / or marriage prospects, you too are ready for a rolling suitcase that costs $ 1,710.
If you stop to browse, you’ll find that Rimowa luggage can be identified by its distinctive ribs like a Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion flavor chip. While it was traditionally pulled by people who wore cashmere or dead animals, it is now more likely to be worn by people who look pretty normal, unless they have polished skin and Lanvin sneakers, which are inexplicably expensive themselves for their chic ugliness.
(Of course, if the Rimowa case is the 2018 sheer Virgil Abloh collaboration, which is really wonderful, it’s probably more likely to be worn by people who don’t mind passers-by seeing all of their shoes, at least the ones they have had decided to pack.)
“You’re traveling soon and your passport has expired and you need to take a picture. I think this is a very uncomfortable experience, ”said Emelie De Vitis, Rimowa Chief Marketing Officer. “No matter what country you live in.” Hence the photo box to make your journey easier.
But first, a few warnings:
You should know that the current United States administration (still pending!) Is warning that standard passport processing can take three months; For $ 60, you can expedite the service and get it in just four to six weeks.
Do not delay. You won’t be alone. In fiscal 2020, the State Department “earned and withheld” US $ 3.7 billion from “new user fee income” from passports and visas and issued nearly 12 million passports and passport cards. Really big government.
Again, this photo is really tailored for American uses. Different countries have different requirements. British passport photos must also include your torso; India insists on both ears – and you can’t grin, frown or raise your eyebrows in the photo.
Speaking of the face, you should also be warned not to get too crazy in the Rimowa photo booth. In contrast to the 50 shades of Rihanna’s Fenty Soft Matte Long-wear Foundation, another fine LVMH product, your range of facial expressions is limited here.
Rimowa may warn visitors that a face in an American passport photo must convey “a neutral expression or a natural smile,” according to the US government.
Once you wonder if your smile is “natural,” you may have a bad time.
For example, if you know what the term “masking” means (this is the term art popular especially among some people with autism for depicting expected or socially sanctioned behavior), you will be able to leave your booth in a crisis in no time.
The State Department explains a little more. “Can I smile on my passport photo?” Asks the State Department on its website. Then she replies: “Yes, but it has to be a natural, not exaggerated smile.”
In 2018, the State Department tweeted a supposedly helpful photo as an example. However, the photo showed a man with an expression so difficult to classify that no two in 20 people would describe him in the same way. After some study, we could say that he is reviling with his eyes or smiling in some other way while actually doing something more surly, even evoking contempt, with the lower half of his face.
Anyway! After some struggle with the craftsmanship of my own identity, I decided not to smile at all. After carefully reviewing my picture, it seemed to me that my frowns were mostly gone. I look youthful, pale, like a flattering computer-generated portrait of an aging hipster. It would look perfectly fine if flashed upon arrival in Leipzig, Germany.