The Magasin x Byline Freaking Out Gift Guide
Beautiful items that instill fear.
By Laura Reilly
There are a lot of bad gifts, but the worst ones are just boring. And the most certain way to make sure your gift doesn’t bore is by making it something that inspires a much more vivid reaction: fear! (Ahh! Did I get you?)
Not to say a gift can’t also be gorgeous and amazing, but to alarm and upset is more in line with the concept of sublime than just beauty alone. This season, make it your mission to give gifts that repair the definition of “awesome” to be closer to that of its mate, “awful.” Nauseate your giftee with their own complicity in their present’s grotesque nature, which they’ll at once desire and dread.
Below, eight such tokens that convolute the mind with their contradictory inner natures: freak gifts for the freaks you love.
Something alive: 1,500 Ladybugs
I have a friend who loves ladybugs, and they are believed to be “talismans of good luck” per the answer box on Google when you search “ladybug.” I had a mite issue plaguing my houseplants last year and discovered that you could easily order thousands of ladybugs over the internet, which could be released on the plants as a natural predator. Why not, with that same logic, dispatch a cool 1,500 of them to a friend and bless them with as many crawling luck credits?
Something very delicate: Carla Souto Bolso N. 3
Girls love precious things, but to give them something so fragile it ruins their life is to create a bond deeper than love. All of their time and energy now dedicated to the caretaking of this exquisitely delicate object, they’ll grow resent you, obsess over you, wish they never met you. What else can grant you such an all-consuming role in another’s constant thoughts? A crystal bag as curse and key to her heart.
Something too expensive: Bottega Veneta 2021 Salon 02 'Tentacle' Fur Jacket w/ Tags
There is a horror in receiving something too fancy. One wonders if they’re on the hook to return the favor, and how much that would put them out. One stresses about how the giver perceives their relationship (“Why would they think this was appropriate?”). You could truly take your pick of items that are too expensive to gift—most things are!—but I like this Bottega coat because on top of being $5,700 (down from $22,000!) it has the added revulsion of looking like it might, at any time, become animated and constrict its wearer to death by tentacle.
Something possessing dark magic: Pomarius Large Mushroom II
What’s it for? Not much. It’s just a haunted little guy.
Something that oversteps a boundary: Sophie Buhai Modernist Baby Spoon
Any gift giver has the opportunity to instrument a scenario of excruciating awkwardness. Give this baby spoon to a couple who’s not yet at a point or has not expressed their desire for having a baby, and wish them the best of luck!
Something polarizing: Bless No. 74 Curtains Marseille
Insert any item from Bless here, frankly. The brand’s loud, heady product assortment is a huge toss-up as to how the receiver will perceive opening such a gift. Maybe they get it, and they have a new conversation-starter for their home or wardrobe, or it’s completely lost on them, and they’re left having to feign some semblance of gratitude and figure out where to put this damn thing.
Something dangerous/a weapon: Aslan Teeth Flats
Put your giftee in the frightening position of being a danger to themselves and others, particularly if they’re expected to travel through airport security at any point between receiving these and returning home.
Something inscrutable: Frank Traynor Hose Nozzle
Future fodder for a r/whatisthisthing post, this everyday-object-cum-art-piece would perplex any recipient without a clear explainer of its genesis. You and I know (because I read it in the show notes and am passing the info along to you) that this is in fact a hose nozzle, extravagantly decorated with tin, glass, stone, and tiny found objects. But there’s something beautiful and maddening about its purpose being lost to time.
For more shopping recommendations from Laura, follow along at Magasin.