Francois Henri Pinault, chief executive of French luxury giant PPR, said a few weeks ago that there will always be rich people, but the question is how they will behave as consumers.

The answer may have a lot to do with how these consumers want to be seen. It's not necessarily a good thing to show up at the tennis club with a new $30,000 crocodile handbag when your friends' net worth has been halved and the Federal Reserve is spending billions to keep the banking system afloat.