|The ultimate luxury, an Elie Saab creation (added to this post by me).|
In this week’s continuing exploration of luxury, I’ve called upon a couple of friends to tell us what they think about the subject. Today and Friday, Duchesseof the stunningly intelligent blog Passage des Perles, deconstructs luxury in, as one of my dearest friends likes to say, “value-added” pieces that I find absolutely brilliant. And, you will see, you will not leave this post with mere fluff and entertainment. No, you will have the value-added advantage of being informed and thus, if you desire, able to act on her advice and information.
Here then, is Duchesse looking into the various levels of luxury.
A blog-friend’s commenter asked her:
I’m not addressing consumption at this level today; that’s a matter of individual choice and means that I’ll discuss in Part Two.
|J. Crew LBD|
The materials may be natural fibers but are often blends, the workmanship decent, the brand recognizable and desirable (at least to its target market).
Sometimes the brand ramps up its image by introducing limited edition or designer-affiliated pieces, like Uniqlo and J. Crew do. The logo is often apparent. Clothes are not usually lined. You may see copies of higher-priced styles.
The brand may be attributed to a person, but she is rarely the actual designer.
Here you find natural fibers, good finishing, more generous hems, better quality buttons. (Though not as good as in the past. I say sternly, where are the pearl buttons?) You’ll see embellishment and detail (feathers, beading, trim) but also well-cut minimalist clothes of fabrics like double-faced wool.
This $1,625 Preen black dress should look and feel different from the $340 J. Crew black dress at Level 1 and nothing like a $75 one from Target.
|Hermès black leather|
Ready-to-wear of fine tailoring; details may include hand-finishing, high-quality embellishment like leather trim on a sleeve-edge; full linings, bound buttonholes. At this level the fabric should be excellent. You will also find more fragile fabrics, such as gossamer-weight silks and laces.
There may be a couture collection (Level 4) and sometimes a second, lower-priced label intended to scoop the Level 2 customer, as well as fragrance and sometimes make-up or accessories. Logos go low-key but there are exceptions like Vuitton, which would probably go dark if they discontinued the monogrammed bags.
Examples: Tailors and couturiers; specialty crafts like tiny Japanese denim boutiques and Italian leather-goods makers; exquisite, sometimes unmarked ateliers in world-class cities or exclusive resort locales.
|Alaia couture suit|
There may be a small, subtle cipher in an inconspicuous place, but no big logos. A woman wearing a couture Alaia suit will recognize another woman in one, but we might not. We would, though, notice the perfect fit and impeccable line.
But right now I’m wondering, do you pine for luxe? Does luxury attract, repel, or incite some other emotion in you?