Why luxury is more luxurious than ever
The luxury industry, it seems, is getting more luxurious. Not that one would ever accuse these brands of doing things by halves, but lately some of the biggest names in fashion and luxury have been taking the concept of excess to a whole new level.
Just last month, for example, Piaget held its Couture Précieuse high jewellery showcase at The Peninsula Hong Kong. The brand invited 120 of its closest and dearest to celebrate, and did they hustle these VIPs into a ballroom somewhere? No, they did not. In true Piaget style, they decided to create a glittering fantasy world smack in the middle of The Peninsula lobby, essentially taking over the hotel’s busiest space for an entire evening.
For some brands, the pampering starts even earlier – from the moment they send you the invitation. Van Cleef & Arpels celebrated its new Pierres de Caractère – Variations collection last Friday at a swanky gala dinner, and the invitation they sent to our office was impressive, to say the least. The soft grey box opened to a stiff card with the event details, which lifted up to reveal a stunning cut-out of the new collection’s iconic necklace, lit softly from behind by a light box.
Now harsher critics might grumble about waste, excess, the economy and so on, and they’d have a point, but when has luxury ever been about being sensible? People don’t spend millions of dollars on a flying tourbillon because they’re sensible. They do it because they’re rich, pampered and have exceptionally good taste in watches. They know that the price they’re paying outstrips the actual cost of materials and labour by a mile, but they hand over their shiny black cards anyway because what they’re paying for is the feeling of luxury.
It was just last week that the SCMP held a seminar on whether or not Hong Kong was the luxury capital of the world, and one of the panellists, Clement Kwok of Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels (which owns The Peninsula hotels), appropriately described luxury as “an experience, a feeling”.
Much like how you could spend years slaving away at an easel without having produced anything that could be called art, luxury belongs to the same vague, barely definable world. It’s not just about rare materials and experienced minds and talents behind the project, but there’s also that certain something that transforms a mere collection of expensive things to a luxurious experience from start to finish. Call it taste, call it style, but whatever it is, luxury wouldn’t feel luxurious without it, and for that at least, we can give these brands credit.