Luxury: Fashion, Lifestyle and Excess
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Luxury has been both celebrated and condemned throughout history right up to the present day. This groundbreaking text examines luxury and its relationship with desire, status, consumption and economic value, exploring why luxury remains prominent even in the context of a global recession.
Using approaches from cultural studies, semiotic research and aesthetics, Luxury presents a wide range of case studies including urban space and new technologies, travel, interior design, cars, fashion ads and jewellery to explore what luxury represents, and why, in the contemporary world.
The book will be essential reading for students and scholars across a range of fashion studies, cultural studies and sociology, and anyone interested in the power and allure of luxury today.
Luxury comes from war and sacrifice (albeit involuntary); it is the unacknowledged link between them. Think of the Vietnam veterans or U.S. soldiers back home after Desert Storm (1991), whose children were born with terrible deformities because of their fathers’ exposure to depleted uranium. Think of the names invented as slogans to make a preventive war seem domestic and familiar, as if it were a kick-box competition: Shock and Awe. Since 1998 an estimated 5.4 million people have died in a war
has to be a Vertu in platinum with inlaid rubies, leather finishing on the sides, a titanium display, and gold headphones, costing around US$37,000. To be luxury, technology must avoid the flat uniformity of serial production and instead have its wares assembled by skilled artisans, as in the manufacture of a Rolls-Royce, the cut of a tailored suit or a precious gem. The Vertu must honor its name, evoking a love of beautiful things, a collector’s refinement. Its services must include a real
of saffron as a substitute for gold in the famous Italian dish risotto alla milanese (risotto in the style of Milan). Gourmandise, the pleasures of the palate, as Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin noted, originated in the sphere of luxury that characterizes humanity. Though eating is indeed a necessity, taste has instead to do with desire. A useless prerogative, perhaps, when one’s survival is at stake, taste nevertheless speaks to us of a luxury that goes beyond abundance and wealth, and that
bath. These culinary practices bring together customs and languages, East and West, multiculturalism and translation; the last is always a part of serving food. Kaiseki, the ritual of Japanese haute cuisine, includes purifying baths and reflective pauses during the meal. A moment of languor accompanies the tasting of mint tea or coffee and is part of a decelerated time in the new deluxe Oriental or Arab cafés, in which we find the hybrid atmosphere and colors of Western cities. The overladen
contemplate squandering, waste, or enjoyment as an end in itself, which are all typical of luxury in its most canonical forms. Instead, it is oriented toward frugality, utility, and duration. However, Sombart rather than Weber turns out to be more long-sighted with his unusual yet illuminating theory of the necessity of luxury. He anticipated what would happen in the twentieth century, as products have become signs in an increasingly massified society, and as values like ostentation and