A plea for luxury
What does luxury mean in the new decade?
Is luxury still politically correct? Do you have to apologize for luxury today?
or, on the contrary, do we need more luxury?
BY THE EDITOR // KARIN M. KLOSSEK
The etymological definition of the Latin word luxury explains luxury as expense, waste and pomp and sees luxury as an attitude deviating from the usual or required. The moral value of luxury is currently popular because it seems to be politically correct. When asked what luxury means to them, as the Neue Züricher Zeitung recently did, some prominent contemporaries answered: “Spending time with my family or friends.”
That sounds good and one wishes the respondents would just leave it at that. But many can’t help but point out in the next breath what hectic, global, luxurious lives they otherwise lead.
The current credo is that it is not the possession of luxury products that makes you happy, but experiences. The cruise trip to Antarctica sounds almost esoteric. Even if one seems indignant to distance oneself from luxury, the market figures speak a different language.
According to Statista, sales of luxury goods in Germany increased continuously from 2012 to 2019 and further growth is forecast for the coming years. In relation to the total population, however, the turnover in luxury goods in 2019 was EUR 156.01 per person.
To put it clearly at this point: GloriousMe does not advocate less luxury, but more luxury. However, we feel the need to redefine luxury in its original sense in the new decade that has just begun.
Craft is the luxury of the current decade
We see the original meaning of defining luxury as an expense, as an attitude that deviates from the usual or what is required, as an incentive not to settle for a standard of mediocrity. We have the utmost respect for the winemaker who works on difficult steep slopes that allow little or no use of machinery. He could also give up the escarpment and make it easier to grow wine in a less demanding topography.
We admire the saddlers who can handle leather, the seamstresses who embroider luxurious evening dresses by hand or add appliqués. Since the skills of these old crafts are becoming increasingly rare, luxury companies such as Hermès, Loewe or Chanel are needed to support and train training institutes for these dying crafts in order to keep these artistic skills alive.
We see the safeguarding of the continued existence of these crafts by luxury groups as a cultural commitment. Who would want to live in a world where all products are designed to be used only for a short period of time and then only produce waste because they cannot be repaired or sewn?
A tailor-made suit from Palermo can be more expensive than an off-the-shelf suit. With a tailor-made suit, the joy begins with the selection of the fabric, the lining and the buttons, and the joy often lasts for decades, because many a fashion-conscious grandchild is thrilled to be able to wear his grandfather’s suit or coat and look cool with it to be able to
With the original definition of luxury, GloriousMe feels very comfortable. From our point of view, luxury is luxury when it is not defined exclusively by the price tag or when it is based on sometimes rather dubious testimonials that claim bling-bling is their purpose in life.
Our attitude to luxury is based on the former Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, who said “elegance consists in the maximum reduction”.
The reduction to the essentials
This guide is a good guide, especially for a modern definition of luxury items. Not the excess but exactly the right amount is desirable.
And thanks to modern technology, it is no longer necessary to actually own everything yourself. The gorgeous luxury evening dress can be rented for the ball from an online rental service, as can the car. Smart wine cellar owners consider which and how many of their wine bottles they actually want to drink and hire an experienced online wine broker to auction the rest of the wine bottles for them when market conditions are good.
This new form of sharing and renting requires well-crafted products, in line with the definition of luxury. A poor quality fabric evening gown that looks lovely when you bought it will lose its shape after the first wash. Longevity and thus sustainability has a price. A friend said when we went shopping together, “I’m too poor to be able to afford cheap shoes.” She is right.
enables the luxury of culture
Seeing a stunning exhibition that isn’t in a nearby museum? Online, many top museums offer inside glimpses of their homes, and with good camerawork, the experience can be even more relaxed, allowing you to seem close enough to touch the image or sculpture rather than jostling with crowds of other visitors to get an unobstructed glimpse .
And even if a visit to the opera is a very special, wonderful experience: In the cinema or on the screen at home, you can even enjoy Wagner or Verdi with a nice glass of red wine. And of course we love Venice and visiting the Art Biennale there.
But it is not always possible to travel to Venice. Accompanying the curator of the 58th International Biennale de Venezia, Ralph Rugoff, on a tour of the Giardini and Arsenale via screen is, in our view, a luxurious treat and increases the anticipation of visiting the next Art Biennale in Venice.
We owe luxury items to many family businesses
Thinking across generations and not only in quarterly figures characterizes most family businesses. A number of the most interesting producers of luxury items in terms of quality craftsmanship are family businesses.
The finest, clear glass is already being produced at Lobmeyr in Vienna in the 8th generation and offers its customers the great luxury of being able to buy glass series over many decades. For generations, Peter Thonet has been manufacturing the legendary Thonet furniture in Frankenberg, Hesse, whose chairs are closely linked to the coffee house tradition, and Jan Kath’s carpets (image) are on many wish lists, and not just at Christmas.
In this quality, with this craftsmanship and this sustainability, we want more luxury than less in the new decade.
The original is the new luxury
You also have to be able to – that doesn’t only apply in Cologne – but also to the luxury that GloriousMe favors. We are happy about every attentive guest who enjoys an excellent menu in a starred restaurant, because we know only too well the extremely hard work and great discipline that work in a starred kitchen requires.
Equally we enjoy a slice of excellent bread with butter and anchovies. It is important to us that the dough of the bread was processed for 35 hours and not baked overnight with leavening agents and provided with coloring and flavorings.
The original is the new luxury. Some star restaurants commission small potteries to develop individual tableware collections for their restaurants. You also have to be able to give, because for some of these potteries this form of support is extremely important.
This concept of aesthetics, which originated in Japan and favors the imperfect and the impermanent, is also an important part of a current definition of luxury for GloriousMe.
Especially the inconspicuous, which one only discovers on closer inspection, or the small crack in the ceramic reminds us in the sense of wabi sabi that nothing stays, nothing is perfect and nothing is finished.
Luxury can be defined differently every day
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) said: “The penchant for luxury goes deep into a person: it reveals that the superfluous and excessive is the water in which his soul prefers to swim.”
Luxury can be defined differently every day. Yes, some days luxury means a special wine, other days a cup of tea. Sometimes luxury is time for a walk through the forest or a yoga class even though the desk is overflowing. Defining luxury requires looking into your soul and figuring out what would do you good that day, precisely because it might not be reasonable or expected of you.
Luxury means mindfulness and conscious enjoyment. Everything else is indeed a waste.
Figure: Jan Kath Collection
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