February 3, 2015

Luxury, darling

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Innovation,Marketing — by xrematon @ 11:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Time to mark a change from my usual concerns with careful and sustainable consumption.

Over the past couple of months, I have had the good fortune to immerse myself in the world of luxury – and for once, it was not simply vicarious immersion. I got the chance to experience the lifestyle. I stepped foot in some of the most exclusive suites in top London hotels, where staying the night would set you back quite a few thousand; I had extravagant lunches followed by cocktails in the most desirable spots of the city. Those experiences were so interesting (please note that I did not just descend into oblivious hedonism) that I will follow up with a further dedicated post.

However, back to the delectable luxuries I encountered in the travels and travails of my research. Luxury is about extremes – or actually rather, being the absolute best (luxury does not countenance being compared to other base things). This means it isn’t hard to find lots of rather silly but entertaining examples of products and services. They are deliberately meant to tickle our imagination.

Please admire the world’s most expensive iPhone case costing over $200,000. They are from the Italian luxury jeweller Bucellati. Apparently, according to a write-up in Forbes,

‘The gold cases feature Rigato etching, one of the company’s best known metal techniques in which parallel lines are cut onto the surface of the metal to obtain a sheen effect. Atop the gold are sunburst designs made of white gold and diamonds. Lucrezia said she was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of the sun.’


Or how about a nibble from the world’s most expensive cupcake? It was made in Le Dolci bakery in Toronto on the request of a customer who wanted something extravagant for his wife’s birthday.

Well, what makes it so special and justifies the $900 price tag? A clue is in the list of ingredients: Kona Blue Mountain coffee, sea salt from the Camargue, organic cane sugar, Valrhona cocoa powder, Tahitian vanilla beans, pastry cream made with Krug Collection Brut champagne, Rosewood Estate honey, Normandy butter, Amadei Italian chocolate, 24-karat gold dust and leaves, and a limited edition Courvoisier. And here is the official product description: ‘The cupcake sits in a hand-made, edible chocolate cup garnished with crunchy edible pearls and dusted with 24-karat gold flakes. It is adorned with a edible gold-painted branch with leaves, fondant flowers edged in gold, edible sugar diamonds and delicate hand made champagne caviar bubbles.’ Lovely.

Expensive cupcake

One of the stories in luxury that I explored was the idea that it is possible to effectively ‘create’ luxury even if there originally was none. Vodka is a good example of this – it was a poor peasant’s drink but is now consumed by the most starry celebrities. To effect this magical transformation, various activities are needed. The one I would like to highlight is the emphasis of craft to elevate the product to another level. In crude terms, Grey Goose is made from wheat and water, but not just any wheat or water.  Read on…

“The creation of Grey Goose vodka begins with the finest soft winter wheat grown by three local farming cooperatives in the Picardy region of France. Only the highest grade of wheat, ‘Blé Panifiable Supérieur’- is selected– the same grade used in the finest French breads and pastries.

The wheat is sent to a dedicated mill and distillery, where it is transformed into a high-proof spirit. This wheat spirit is then perfectly blended with spring water from an exclusive well in Gensac-La-Pallue, in the Cognac Arrondissement (Region), where the water is naturally filtered through limestone.”


Now I hope you will look at the clear tasteless liquid that is vodka with fresh eyes.

Image via Le Dolci Bakery.

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