Letter from the Editor: The importance of elegance and its allure in luxury. Why luxury must not go “street” level

Letter from the Editor: The importance of elegance and its allure in luxury. Why luxury must not go “street” level

Many luxury brands are making a mistake in shifting their communications and putting their brands on casual items. Luxury is supposed to be 'special' and elegant.

Elegance, especially in luxury is one of the hallmarks of its "reason for being" and connection to fine arts. It represents a higher standard and a level of communication that is encoded in its very principles set centuries ago. It’s part of what is supposed to make luxury (true luxury) special! To hear and see that many luxury brands are starting to break from this standard is very disappointing. They’ve gone down to the street instead of being a source of elevation and inspiration. This is not a good idea.

Many brands are starting to do this as a strategy to attract younger people but perhaps they should not do this at all. It’s a strategy that will lose in the end. These young people are going to grow up eventually and “street” will eventually not ‘speak’ to them anymore. Then what?? Short-term (financial) gain = long-term pain. You've broken the dream and it's the dream that pays off for luxury in the end. And this move breaks an important pillar of luxury. It also robs young people to have a more elevating experience and to learn. And they do want to learn! They crave something more. It is short-sighted to think that you have to reach them where they are.

It is the allure of luxury that draws people to you, not by you (luxury) going to them.

Coco Chanel said it best... "Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.”

"Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. And I stay in the game to fight it.”

How did we get here?

I see a big part of this problem is that the high arts, culture and refinement have been stripped away from the media landscape for far too long in favour of pop culture to generate quick profits. But, there used to be a better balance between the higher art and the street arts offered simultaneously, all a part of the language and the fabric of what we saw and heard. There was a choice. When media companies slashed their arts and culture budgets in favour of what's trendy, it was a societal and spiritual loss for the people who were not exposed to the refined and elegant on a regular basis. There needs to be a contrast.

We need elegance and elevation

Taking away the cultured, fine art and elegance takes away the aspirational, that next tier, that higher level that draws you in to dream, to raise your spirits, increase your knowledge, and sense of upward movement. Elegance and refinement energetically vibrate at a higher level than pop culture. We are all emotional beings, electrically charged who crave raising our spirits and to learn. Budgets for high arts and refinements in media need to be restored. Elegance must be upheld in luxury or risk no longer being luxury! We need luxury brands to stay strong and true. We as people, need that opportunity to dream through a pursuit of excellence, especially when we’ve had so many challenges and pains on earth to endure. We need that emotional lift to look upwards into the stars and the opportunity for dreaming.

The Abduction of Europa, 1716 by Jean François de Troy (artist) French, 1679 - 1752. This delightful painting by Jean-François de Troy, one of the leading painters in Paris in the first half of the 18th century, portrays the climactic moment from Ovid's story in Metamorphoses—the Abduction of Europa. Jupiter has transformed himself into a handsome bull to lure the lovely princess Europa onto his back and carry her away to Crete where she would bear him three sons. From Rembrandt to Claude Lorrain to Paul Gauguin, this seminal story captured the imagination of European artists for centuries.

 

Be a source of upward inspiration

Some brands simply have not taken the time to draw the “street” upward towards elegance which is a far smarter strategy than pulling the elegance downward. Do so, and it’s not elegant anymore. It's giving in and giving up. When elegance and refinement are gone and everyone loses. There is a loss of sense of meaning, values and creativity with a diet of only pop culture. Pop culture is rife with the inelegant. Street and pop culture overall represent an expression that has become hollow and unfulfilling and can stimulate a sense of boredom with too much sameness. Imagine it like eating only a diet of junk food. Eating only junk food, you are starved of nutrients and your taste buds would be dulled. Collectively as an industry, we need to take the time to do things properly. The problem with looking at a "profits first" focus is that you lose the big-picture view and the fact that luxury has the pleasure and responsibility of staying at a higher level. And can still do so and be profitable whilst adding to the landscape with much-needed contrast some things also need to be done just because it's the right thing to do, not because they make you money.

Feed dreams

People are more than just consumers on this planet. We are emotional beings. We are dreamers. We seek to mature and develop our tastes. We need elegance and refinement to raise us up, elegance and beauty to be uplifting. To be able to look up and see stars in the sky so we can take our eyes off every day, to aspire and to feel that deliciously sensory experience you get from dreaming.

Give people something to look up to and a place for escape from the everyday. Luxury is about escape. And shake the dust from the street off of ourselves. It’s not always about raising status it’s about raising our standards, knowledge and spirits.

It’s about raising ourselves proverbially into grander spaces and into a state of being of comfort, peace, joy and great beauty, that is is a big part of the human experience and connects us to the divine. It’s why fine art was created to bring the divine to our eyes and hearts and fill us with a sense of something extraordinary. It’s a spiritual experience that only the refined, elegant and beautiful can do. Luxury is part of that for us in life. It is not the opposite of poverty, it is the opposite of vulgarity.

To truly live is to dream. To look upward into the stars and dream. Luxury is supposed to be upward in the heavens not below. Luxury has a responsibility to stay higher level, and to be looked up to.

Stop moving luxury to the street. Instead, stay upward in the skies like a star and shine brightly so dreamers can dream and take flight toward you.

 

~ Angela Tunner

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