Updated: May 11
When you go to fashion shows like the ones which took place yesterday, to see two big names, Dior and Lanvin, you stop and think about what luxury is. What is luxury?
Quality and not price? Yes, maybe, but it's not enough. Luxury involves a much wider concept. If you misunderstand it with richness referring to expensive items only, then you have an old idea of luxury. Plus, luxury is not necessarily elegance.
Luxury is not easy to define. The high-quality and creative ready-to-wear is identified as a luxury symbol. And it is, of course, from a business and brand placement point of view, addressed to a high consumer range. I think this term has been changing its exclusive "richness symbol" meaning in time. As a matter of fact today we can meet people who wear any kind of luxury symbol without "looking" luxury. They only look rich. Because today luxury involves exclusiveness, nearly uniqueness, and not because it is addressed to few people, because it's special instead. Luxury is research, the chance to experience new routes, to find new and not predictable or already seen solutions. Experimentations are luxury. And it's a fortune finding them and being able to have them. There are for example dresses which really give you the feeling of luxury for the way they have been made, for the quality of manufacturing, whilst some other expensive and intricate work are just opulent. Same for jewelry, shoes, accessories. Craftsmanship is luxury. A product is luxe when it is handmade, tailored for few. Luxury meaning exclusiveness. Are status symbols luxury? Yes, sometimes. Not necessarily. Yesterday at the end of Dior's fashion show, when all tailors came on stage, you could really get the feeling that luxury still exists, related to tailoring skills. Providing industrial products in this case. In long Napoleon-inspired coats, as well as some lace-embroidered evening dresses with trims and facings, you could find that luxury. Meaning research, experimentations. The collection was a combination of '70s, '700 and grunge: light pastel-hued mini-dresses or chartreuse, coats, jackets and blazers and slightly flared pants, or shorts, or Napoleon-inspired to the knee. Wide-brimmed slightly falling felt hats in different colours. Nonchalant and easy look. Lanvin was luxury. Meaning purity and class. Yes, because luxury, as such, has to be sophisticated, it cannot be translated into something vulgar. That's maybe rich, but certaily not luxe. The collection, great and surely one of Lanvin's best ones, opened with an almost rigorous minimalism made up of essential lines and outstanding fabrics and tailored coats, suits and dresses. Black prevailing. Breitschwanz furs or mantles, silk or lace or gazar or double satin dresses, special and unique. One bracelet only, one necklace. Few pieces. Select and special jewelry. The portrait of a woman who can recognise luxury, the real one, not opulent but discrete. That's why we define it luxury, because it is about discrete richness. And for the finale, fuchsia, crimson, cedar green, blush pink, orange, cyclamen light dresses, featuring interesting, feminine and appealing shapes. Here you go, luxury is to be intended as a byword for exclusiveness, research, experimentation, purity, class, discrete richness. Luxury is not to be shown because it is made up of details. Displaying it means vulgarizing it. Showing your richness. di Franca Sozzani