The true luxury today is sensual stimuli.

The feel and sound of a silk scarf: that’s what luxury means today. (Image: Susan Wilkinson/Unsplash)

Get rid of logos

It’s the smell of leather seats or the rustle of a silk scarf. Today, luxury is no longer evidently displayed, but rather appears seductively on the nose or only becomes evident upon closer inspection.

One has the impression that bling-bling is over, more is no longer more, but less is more. Would today’s equivalent of Franck Ribéry board a plane in a sparkly gold Dolce & Gabbana tracksuit like a ’70s pop star and perform in style in second class? Probably not, rather he would fly discreetly first class, hidden from view, in splendid isolation, completely enveloped in dark colors.

Covering yourself from head to toe in logos now also seems cheap and loud. You no longer demonstrate, at least not at first glance, what you can afford and achieve. You don’t want to attract attention, you want to go unnoticed. The new luxury is silent and reserved.

It’s no surprise that beige, blue and champagne are enjoying a new boom. Even street intelligence is too aggressive. It seems that we are once again sticking to Adolf Loos’s definition of a gentleman: well dressed is someone who goes unnoticed and who naturally accompanies the ruling class, in the city that sets the tone (for Loos it was not Vienna, but London). ). Or you can stick with Coco Chanel: it’s not about being complimented on your beautiful dress, but on your good looks.

So the Covid winner was not just sweatpants, but also soft, warm, light and enveloping cashmere, for everything, including sweatpants. Cut so you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything. He needs a second look, an inner knowing, to recognize this quiet luxury that is not imposed on him, but perhaps silently seductively creeps up his nose and flatters his ears.

The smell of money

The special aroma of leather seats, the soft, newly tuned hum of the starter motor, the deeply satisfying click of a bag closure and the rustle of the silk of a scarf: these are the sensual stimuli to which we often fly. Without us realizing. noticing them. The eye no longer plays the main role: hearing, smell and touch are at the center of luxury research.

For the moment, our desire no longer aims to eclipse others. And, ultimately, not in being recognized in the quiet luxury of our kind, the happy few. We no longer long for the first house on the block so we can be seen there at the right time with the right people. We no longer dream of winning the recognition contest, but rather of a secluded place outside the social contest. The definitive utopia, an incredible luxury, the most beautiful gift is to escape the desire for distinction, ignore it, turn your back on it.

Supreme luxury is not outrageously expensive, but it is priced out because it is unparalleled. The best gift is an out-of-this-world space where everything is taken lightly and people can enjoy each other. And the right click of a bag zipper, a supple piece of leather, or the rustle of a heavy silk scarf sends a shiver of happiness down our spine.

Barbara Vinken is professor of general literature and Romance philology at the LMU in Munich. She reached a wide audience with her reflections on German family politics and fashion.

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