Does the word mean the ability to have and enjoy beautiful things?
There is a new word being bandied around in the world of luxury – hyper-luxury. According to an article in WWD (Women’s Wear Daily 5th December 2011) this is the way that the high profile brands are heading. Having stolen the title ‘designer collection’ these high profile brands make the meaning of ‘designer collection’ nothing more than a line that has a name that could be a real person or is the diluted mass produced collection of a real designer – they now have to think of a way of getting to the super-super rich and convincing them that what they are providing is rare and special enough to justify the huge cost.
Have these vast companies only just registered that for many years those who really appreciate beautifully hand crafted work have been searching out their own resources – individual artist/craftsmen who create unique works of art – or vintage workmanship, perhaps intricately sewn garments or wonderfully crafted pieces of jewellery having the value of the gems, the unique and rare quality of the art as well as superb craftsmanship, with the added bonus of potential investment as a valid excuse for a purchase! On the grand scale fabulous antique pieces truely are an investment – so too can original work of contemporary artists become valuable assets as well as giving pleasure to look at and wear.
Rene Lalique necklace from Wartski in London – specialists in serious jewellery such as Faberge.
A faberge tiara on a beautiful girl (Laura Roundell – now the Countess of Burlington)- Hello magazine – a feature on the Duke of Westminster’s jewellery by Francesca Fearon – the dress and organza Kimono from our collection.
Exotic and less exotic jewellery and clothes can be found hidden everywhere. Contemporary small artisan studio collections/one man craftspeople who quietly make lovely things are scattered throughout the world. These artists struggle to sell their art, and if they are lucky they meet and can sell to enough people to make a modest living – the buyers being people who really do understand the fine quality and art involved in producing such intimately created pieces.
For many many years we have tried to convince the buyers, who buy for the stores, that what we can provide is something unique – far removed from the massive volume production of the big brands. They pretend to understand the concept of ‘customisation’ and yet fail to take advantage of the real hands-on potential of individual designers who create pieces, as we do, one at a time – thus allowing real choice and intimate dialogue between the designer and the final customer.
What is sad that many very talented designers have just given up altogether. Of a small group that were vibrant in the 1980s – 1990s only one or two remain in business. Janet Ibbotson, I saw today, has retired. Janet used to make beautifully crafted suede and leather garments – we can no longer buy those wonderful finely knitted delicacies that Lisa Lawrence made, nor the glorious wedding gown gems made out of eclectic mixes of antique lace and vintage fabric by Olivia Dell of Cocoa in Cheltenham. James Walters still has a website but whether he creates his amazingly complicated and crazy crochet works of art I do not know. Is Jasmine Hickson still weaving beautiful fabrics? Catherine Buckley has given up making her original dresses in London and Anne Dudley Ward has moved away from her vibrant colourful silks to goodness knows where. And these are just a few that we knew in the past as having a unique way with their collections, superb craftsmanship and art involved in the creation of their work – there must be many more.
It is no wonder that many artists are abandoning trying to market their art through the retail trade and instead are establishing web-sites that have the potential of reaching every corner of the globe. Exciting times when the creator can get into a genuine dialogue with the customer rather than having the brick wall of the buying team between them.
This screen is the only one in the world – a Victorian screen that had seen better days – re-covered with our pleated silk painstakingly stitched into whorls to give an impression of trees and reflections. The dress too is unique as are each of the cushions.
‘Fendi now sells roughly one in 10 of its coveted Peekaboo bags on a made-to-order basis—at prices that range from 2,900 Euros up to 31,000 Euros, about $4,140 to $44,275—to customers willing to pay a premium of at least 25 percent while allowing four to six months for delivery. Each comes with a handwritten note from Silvia Venturini Fendi.’ (WWD – December 5th 2011)’
(Having looked at pictures of these bags – is there really that extra difference to justify this huge hike in the price? And more importantly is the artisan compensated sufficiently for their craft?)
Silver veil – featured in the Sunday Times colour supplement – photograph by Cindy Palmano
This veil was made for a fashion show at Longleat House a number of years ago. I had rashly said that I would make a silver veil for the finale and then had to work out a way of doing it. I had some vintage silver thread (real silver) which I thought I might use. Wanting a significantly large piece the attempts at crochet took too long and became too dense. I wanted a filigree cobweb of silver to shimmer over the bride. After many experiments I devised a way to embroider the thread on small sheets of cooking rice-paper and then dissolved away the paper in the bath. The result was magnificent – the bath lethally slippery – the sewing machine completely wrecked. A very expensive exercise and hugely time consuming as it had taken me three months of experimentation and creation. Now this piece is genuine hyper-luxury – it is the only piece like it in the world except for the small gold variation below.
Wedding dress and coat in pleated silk in a colour we called Mars Bar gold – with a veil made from gold thread.
Even the tee-shirts hand marbled by our granddaughter Anouska are genuine ‘one of a kind’ as are the stained glass decorative items made by our daughter Georgina.
One of Anouska’s tee shirts – some of these are on the on-line shop http://charlespatricialester.com – created to boost the coffers of an enterprising and hard working student at Oxford.
Georgina’s stained glass pieces are original and creative – each piece different.
So there you are – just in this very small family some unique hyper-luxury pieces that do not carry the added expense of a major brand, but that you know will be genuinely original. There are many out there who create beautiful things and because they do not have the huge PR machinery behind them to promote their work – they are mostly unknown. So happy hunting.
Just a few links until I thinkof more:
Our on-line shop: http://charlespatricialester.com
Interesting individual clothing by Sophie Corbett: http://www.marvinandmaud.com
Vintage clothing: Kerry Taylor Auctions – London http://www.kerrytaylorauctions.com
Swank Vintage – San Francisco http://www.swankvintage.com
Jeanne Suica – Paris http://jeannesuicavintageclothing.blogspot.com
Jewellery: Contemporary artists – Peter and Rosemary Williams http://peterandrosemarywilliams.co.uk
Antique fine jewellery and art specialising in Faberge – Wartski – London http://wartski.com
General hunting: e-bay and etsy are worth looking at too – then expand into search phrases on Google.