Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 5 Implications Of Luxury's Real Meaning

Among the luxuries that endure and bring pure pleasure with every encounter are precious friends. Lisa, from the exquisite -- on every level -- blog Privilege is one of those friends. Here she delves into the deep meanings and sweet sensations of luxury. What would we do without our brilliant friends?

I've been thinking about luxury for quite a while. The term is used commercially, and, like most commercial terms, gets twisted, coded, and abused. Not to mention thrown about willy-nilly. But I think there's a deconstructed meaning, a kernel of something universally true.

Luxury is a saturated sensory experience, wherein the luxurious thing or moment is more full, more intense, more detailed, or larger than the slot you saved for it in your mind. Luxurious times and goods inhabit themselves all the way, and beyond. 

If I'm right, several implications follow. Also pretty pictures, something at which any discussion of luxury is going to excel.

1. High quality goods are not the only source of luxury. One can luxuriate in almost anything, given just the right slice of time and opportunity. Infinity pools help, granted, but infinity itself stretches across many horizons.

2. People get deadened to luxury, over time, not because we are very badly behaved creatures. Although that may be true. Just look at American politics. I digress. No, we find ourselves examining a luxury hotel more critically on the second day because our expectations increase. The third granite counter we install shows its flaws more immediately. The fourth crystal glass, its smears.

3. Luxury is not opulence, per se. We have tended to associate the two simply because there's more room for saturation in gloss, plush, and ornamentation. However, no one can deny the luxury of a perfectly designed simple object, made of materials that both look and feel beautiful. A pink and brown coat, in double-faced wool? Not just any pink, mind you, not just any brown.
4. Luxury goods cost a lot for a reason, i.e. the labor required to create saturation. Someone designs every detail, and/or crafts the object with precision, attention, and creativity. Chanel sews a small heavy chain into the hem of their jackets, to ensure drape. How much time it took to produce the fabric in the dress below, or to weave the rug above, I can estimate no more closely than, a lot.

5. Finally, some goods deemed "Luxury," offer the requisite saturation only in their logoed details. If you buy plasticized canvas bags in a logo print, or cheaply fitted leather shoes with a branded medallion, you luxuriate in presumed status, not the good itself. These things often fill the expected space only, leaving a gap that must be fed by subsequent purchases.

Thank you all for having me. Speaking to Tish's audience, now that's luxury.

Louis Vuitton, by Lorenz Bäumer, formerly of Chanel
Four Seasons Maui, from my review on Privilege 
Waterford Lismore Essence, image from Overstock, available at Crystal Classics 
Coat by Raf Simons in his last collection for Jil Sander from 
Rug from the Persian Carpet Guide 
Dress by Emilio Pucci from

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