Book Review: Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster

I’m sorry to say that after reading this eye-opening book that I won’t be able to look at the luxury and fashion industry the same ever again.

Ever since I’ve been taken with purses, I’ve had a suspicion that certain high-end brands with their liberal annual price increases and tasteless limited edition releases were not necessarily in the business of luxury, but rather in the business of making a profit. I know that I am not alone in this perspective; a brief conversation about the topic with any aficionado will bring a similar line of thought.

These suspicions were what drew to me reading this book and with facts, figures, and interviews with owners and designers themselves, Dana Thomas has proven those suspicions to be true.

In an informative and engaging manner, Thomas takes us from Hong Kong to France to South America, into replica sweatshops in Guangzhou to Miuccia Prada’s concrete office in Milan to the vibrant Daslu, a rare and true luxury shopping experience in Brazil. She brings us into the intimate details of the series ruthless and shrewd power moves taken by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, that changed the direction of luxury forever and through this, narrates the demise of the made-to-order, old world luxury companies and the rise of the democratization of luxury.

But all is not lost even in today’s money-driven and fast fashion environment. Thomas shows how luxury still persists in a few brands such as Hermes, Chanel and Louboutin. Most of the book was horrifyingly candid for such a lover of designer goods like me, but I did enjoy the latter parts of the book that allow these wonderful brands to shine and stand against the dizzying avarice of others.

Christian Louboutin explains that “luxury is the possibility to stay close to your customers…about subtlety and details. It’s about service…Luxury is not consumerism. It is educating the eyes to see that special quality.”

Cristiane Saddi, a marketing director in Sao Paolo says that clients who frequent Daslu, a luxury fashion emporium, “don’t need the logo entry-level handbag or to wear labels or logos. We buy from luxury brands, but not ordinary products. You can see what is mass and what is special. Luxury is not how much you can buy. Luxury is the knowledge of how to do it right, how to take the time to understand and choose well. Luxury is buying theย right thing.”

I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to truly grasp what luxury means and stop being fooled into throwing money away on mass glamour. It’s not about how much money you have or how much or what you buy. One can be more luxurious than the richest socialite in all the world by understanding quality, selecting timeless pieces, and above all an unpretentious naturalness in one’s surroundings.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Karl Lagerfeld that sums it up quite candidly,

Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress. If you don’t have it, you are not a person used to luxury. You are just a rich person who can buy stuff.

signature

Minimalist Challenge: Finale

I love my closet.

I’ve organized my clothes from light to dark, my purses are very prettily arranged along the wall and my jewelry is placed at eye level where I can easily see all of it.

To be honest, I don’t have many articles of clothing. I’ve found a good number of different outfits that I rotate and subtly change with accessories. I found a couple of dresses that I choose to donate because I didn’t absolutely love how they looked on me and so I barely wore them. I also don’t own a lot of jewelry. I choose simple pieces that I can wear with almost anything so I was happy with everything in my collection.

But my purses are a different story. Anyone who knows me knows that one of my most favorite things in the world is a fabulous handbag. So, my collection has more than just a few! This was where I knew I had an opportunity to sell down my collection.

There were models that I loved and had two colors of and I really couldn’t justify having two different colors of the same bag. For example, I had 2 Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bags (one in black and one in cognac), 2 Goyard St. Louis totes (black and blue), and 2 Gerard Darel 24 hr purses (beige and dark chocolate). I had to make a decision to get rid of both or at least one. I ended up selling the black Jerome Dreyfuss, the blue Goyard, and the beige Gerard Darel, along with a crochet Gerard Darel, a grey Gerard Darel Besace purse, a black Ralph Lauren purse I just never used, and my YSL muse bag. Selling all of these put a tidy sum back into my pocket and while I still have more purses than the average lady, I truly love each and every one of them.

With my closet cleaned out, that concludes the “Minimalism Challenge” for my house. I made a goal to finish this before the end of the year so that I can start off 2017 already streamlined and I feel so good that I did it. Now that I’ve got all of my material things under control I can focus on improving other areas of my life.

signature