What is the true concept of luxury? In the words of the famous Coco Channel, ‘Luxury is the necessity that begins where necessity ends’. However, she further clarifies that ‘Luxury is not the opposite of poverty but that of vulgarity’.
How and why is luxury interrelated to affluence? Luxury and money have a strange relationship. Luxury converts the raw material i.e. money into a culturally sophisticated product, namely social stratification. Beyond the classic forms of ‘functional’ and ‘exchange’ value, luxury actually introduces a new form, that of ‘symbolic value.’
Is luxury then a form of art? The two concepts of luxury and art are very closely interlinked and it is impossible to completely separate them. Since the dawn of humanity, objects found in early tombs were both objets d’art and luxury.
Is fashion a form of luxury too? Until the turn of the 19th century, fashion belonged to the luxury world, simply because only a handful of the socially rich could afford to discard their clothes even before they were worn out or could buy new ones even when they did not have the necessity. In the 20th century, fashion and luxury started to diverge.
Today, the overlap between fashion and luxury is very small. Fashion would like to think of itself as belonging to the world of luxury in order to improve its status.
Fashion is cyclical and frivolous, luxury is timeless and classic. It is ‘fashionable’ to be ‘luxurious’, but fashion is (affordable) luxury.
Luxury today: Luxury today is a lifestyle. A life style that most of us want to live or rise into. Luxury aims at elevating people, making them go beyond mere functionality and needs, but seek intangible values which could even be transcendental. Luxury educates taste at its best.
Once a restricted purview of the elites and then the aristocrats, luxury today is for all those who can afford it. There is no more a single elite but multiple ones. Luxury creates a feeling of ‘us’.
From aristocracy to meritocracy, luxury has come a long way.