[NOTE: IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EACH FASHION TRIBE, START HERE]
Savoring a luscious peach, ripened to absolute perfection. Lounging on an exotic island, bevvy in hand. Sitting behind the wheel of the Flying Spur from Bentley, relishing the feel of the hand-stitched leather seating (right), hand-carved woodwork and awesomeness of the 6-liter, 616-horsepower engine that goes 0-60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds and can hit 200 mph.
Luxury may mean something different to everyone, but what everyone can agree on is the fact that time is involved. And lots of it.
Only after a decade's worth of study of up to 5,000 fragrance molecules will a perfumer be considered qualified to become a junior associate at a top fragrance house - add another 15 years before said perfumer is considered credible. At Hermès, the apprenticeship often starts early - as in, at home - where fathers and uncles toil away for years in leather shops before being permitted to stitch the lusted-after bags and shirts made from alligator skins retailing for just around $100,000.
Where this degree of time-intensive craftsmanship meets the finest raw materials and products - it's at this intersection that experts like Bentley's head, Christophe Georges and the US director for Krug, Carl Heline, agree defines and distinguishes luxury. "Luxury," adds Georges, "is something you cannot have easily."
But back to this $100K shirt. Whaaaaaa????!!!
It was designed by Veronique Nichanian, who has helmed menswear at Hermès'for more than 20 years and actually has the intent with designs like this tee to make them "wearable and not excessive" - a fact which kinda got overshadowed in the kerfluffle over the pricepoint. "We work a lot on the precious skins," she continues. "I love crocodile, I hate ostrich. I wanted to make a crocodile so soft and so I asked to do a special treatment. If you feel the garments we've done it feels like chiffon. We call it "crocodile chiffon" because it's really lightweight." Part of the charm of this"chiffon" croc tee, is, I think, the fact that despite the steep pricetag & endless hours of craftsmanship that went into making it, it's meant to be worn casually - sans pomp and circumstance. Which, I have to admit, is kind of cool. Fashion is often treated too defentially, too preciously - and this isn't that. Which I like. Spending on ultra-luxe items that either look a lot like their less spendy counterparts - except to someone in the know - or worn with a casual throwaway attitude is a growing trend amongst the members of the SUPREMIUM fashion tribe, the target market for items like:
- a backpack from The Row, the Olsen's higher-end line, made from Nile croc skins in collaboration with artist Damien Hirst & retailing for $55,000 (image)
- ripped-knee jeans from Balmain priced at $1,600
Here's the podcast I recorded about this - I hope you enjoy it!
Music: "Samba" by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott