Attempting to (re)define luxury, today

A superfluous definition would define luxury through exclusivity, craftsmanship, creativity and rarity. I beg to differ!

I believe luxury is defined and re-defined by each and every one of us, without any direct connection to the notion of being rich and/or wealth. Whether we have a large amount of money sitting in a bank account (earned, gifted or inherited) or we have a high regular income (salaries, rents, liberal professions etc.), access to luxury has always been democratic. Shopping at Hermes (at a store or online), walking into a Van Cleef & Arpels boutique or staying at a Peninsula Hotel – do not require any prerequisites. It could be very well that one could buy a Hermes wallet or have a coffee in the lobby of a Peninsula hotel.

Luxury is not about belonging to a club or an exclusive circle. Luxury is not about a Black credit card. Luxury is not about being able to afford a certain product or service, once twice or throughout your entire life. Luxury is not about imitating someone’s lifestyle. Luxury is not about formality or ‘black tie’

Luxury is about imagination and surprise – that ‘WOW factor’. Luxury is about happiness, nurtured by the intensity of our desires, and, indirectly, about how and what we value as priceless. Luxury is about our nature of not taking ourselves too seriously and always allowing us to dream. Luxury is about freedom of choice. Luxury is about being in control of our destiny. Luxury is about art and the dialogue we perceive between art and luxury. Luxury is equally about sensitivity and power.

Luxury is not about induced illusions, but about the freedom to recreate our own world, whether it is through what we wear or our passions and hobbies. Luxury is not about artificially induced thoughts, perceptions or preferences. Luxury is not about masculinity or femininity. Luxury is not about perfection, but rather about those rare imperfections.

Allow yourself, for a moment, to think of Chanel as being a close friend, not a brand, a company or the name of a personality. You can go out with a friend for a drink…you can travel with your friend on a holiday….you can speak to your friend on the phone or watch photos of your friend on his Facebook page….you can do groceries’ shopping with your friend… But, when you go to Chanel’s house, you know you will always be surprised and, which year passing by, your friendship will mature and you will know more about each other. Your friend will then know about your favorite color, zodiac sign or holiday destination.

Then, think of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel (Coco), a powerful and independent woman who reinvented herself through courage and who seized every opportunity to learn from each and every person she encountered as well as from each place she visited. She was also a person who lived the moment and let her intuition guide her, much like the philosophy behind Karl Lagerfeld ease to work at extreme multi-tasking levels. Lagerfeld’s success has always lied in the way he respected Chanel but was never afraid to criticize her work when he had a perfectly valid argument.

Would Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel (Coco)enjoy a day in the life of Karl Lagerfeld? Most certainly yes!

Take for instance, last week, the day of the Chanel catwalk show during the calendar of the Paris Fashion Week, Spring Summer Ladies’ 2015 Ready-To-Wear Collections. Lagerfeld probably went about his daily morning routine of reading the paper press, whether it is a daily or one of the glossy magazines, at his own apartment, while petting his cat.Then, he went to his studio for the final touches to the upcoming Fendi Fall Winter 2015-16 season collection, while early afternoon he attended, together with Anna Wintour, the preview launch of the new Apple Watch at the Colette store, to finish off his afternoon by making an appearance at his ‘’feminist manifesto’’- themed catwalk show of Chanel’s Ready to Wear (Spring Summer 2015), which he must have conceived over 3 months ago. By miraculously ‘joggling’ the creative direction and marketing of Chanel, Fendi, his own brand and countless collaborations such as the current Louis Vuitton capsule collection which he was invited to contribute to, – all at the same time, Lagerfeld reinforces the luxury is personal and luxury is not about affordability.

Luxury cannot be ‘’ultra’’, ‘’seven stars’’, ‘’uber’’ or ‘’affordable’’. Luxury is luxury. A luxury branded product or service can never actually be owned or controlled. Luxury is about aspirations and about heritage and inheritance. (You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation)

Luxury is about the art of serving and being served.

(to be continued)

Oliver Petcu

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel (Coco)