When Richard and I went to Paris a few years ago, I was intent upon visiting the House of Balmain, where I purchased a beautiful tie from their small men's collection. But I was less interested in shopping than I was in seeing the place where Valentine O'Neill began her career as a fashion designer. Valentine is fictional, a character in Judith Krantz's Scruples, a book that positively sizzles with brand-name-dropping, put there not as paid product placement but as verisimilitude of an especially glamorous kind.
So I'm a little impatient with the argument that we should be worried about brand names in YA fiction. I could certainly get into a fine frothing if the YA series actually whored themselves out to the highest brand-name bidder, which would be both sneaky and lazy: if it doesn't matter if your heroine wears Chanel or Balmain you haven't thought hard enough about her. But that's not what's happening, and I am more scandalized that the Times article pimped this possibility so heavily only to reveal that it had no basis in fact. Yet.