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The Business of Luxury Fragrance is Sweet!
As sure as falling temperatures, flying phalanxes of geese and golden leaves herald the arrival of autumn, so too does the appearance of a flock of new luxury fragrance introductions. Like clockwork, each fall brings forth dozens of launches in a bewildering array. This season there were several fairly significant events in the category, with Louis Vuitton re-entering luxury fragrance for the first time in almost 30 years; make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury launching her first scent; ditto Alexander McQueen, architect Philippe Starck, and shoe designer Christian Louboutin (the latter two actually launched three new scents at once, and sadly none of them smell like new shoes fresh out of the box). Tom Ford introduced Orchid Soleil; Aerin Lauder debuted Tangier Vanille; and SJP (that’s Sarah Jessica Parker, for the uninitiated) launched “Stash,” her new fragrance, which she describes as smelling “like a sweaty European man.” OK, then. Moving right along.
It’s Time to Get Schooled about Smart Skin
In a recent post, we here at Dandelion Chandelier explored the continued adoption of body modifications like tattoos and multiple piercings by the luxury class.  There’s a tech angle that we left unexplored then, and it’s the next chapter of the story: the widespread use of temporary tattoos as a fashion statement, even by the wealthiest among us, has recently been married with some fascinating new technologies. Smart skin is here. And it’s pretty cool.
LOL: Are True Luxury Brands Allowed to be Funny?
Traditionally, luxury was considered to be the height of seriousness. The lofty price points seemed to necessitate a sober mien and a clear head. There’s nothing funny about spending serious amounts of cash on something that strictly speaking you could easily live without. So for many years, I didn’t think that humor had any place in the luxury milieu. But then I had a little epiphany.
Hobo Glam Wins Fashion Week: is it the New Look of Luxury?
As New York Fashion Week wound down, the Dandelion Chandelier team made the rounds to take the temperature of luxury retailers and consumers in the wake of the festivities. What’d we find? Consumers running at an average temperature, neither hot nor cold on the New York shows, breaking out the leather and suede and anxiously awaiting Milan, London and Paris. But the New York luxury retailers? Low grade fever, accompanied by irritability and envy.
Is the Latest Re-Vamp Enough to Save an Iconic Luxury Store?
Most of us do our spring cleaning and tidying up in April and May, and then we head outdoors for summer fun. Some of the glittering department and luxury specialty stores of Manhattan, however, have been on a different schedule. They spent the long hot summer indoors, tearing down walls, putting in new light fixtures and flooring, and repainting (the retail equivalent of summer school). All so that as we shuffle back reluctantly from the beach, or the mountains, or wherever the summer took us, we’ll have bright shiny emporiums full of new fall merchandise beckoning us to abandon our computers and smartphones and shop retail.
Pain and Pleasure: How Far Will You Go to Look Good?
I bought a pair of the new Valentino Garavani flats on my last trip to Boston, and I wore them for the first time a couple of weekends ago. They are super-cute, black with a crisis-cross ankle strap and silver metal grommet details. The man who sold them to me at their store on Newberry Street raved about them as an upgrade to the Rock Stud flats that I already own in multiple colors. “These are so much more comfortable than the old version,” he assured me as he lovingly put them in their red box.
Does the Gender of the Designer Matter in Luxury Apparel?
With the appointment earlier this year of the first-ever female lead designer at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri (lately of Valentino), I have noticed real pride in the ranks of the women I know who work at the house. They may not shout it, but they certainly whisper it: Finally! It’s our time – a woman is designing Dior! It only took 70 years.
Lost in the Maze of Selling Luxury Goods on Amazon
One of the most intriguing business dilemmas I’ve encountered recently is the conundrum of how luxury brands should think about their relationship with Amazon (and its subsidiaries Zappos and Shopbop). The “core” global luxury market – personal goods and services – is a $250 billion global business with an increasingly anemic growth rate. Amazon, on the other hand, continues to grow at strong double-digit rates. Surely this is a marriage made in heaven?
The September Luxury Fashion Magazines Have Arrived!
It may be the ultimate in old-school publishing and fashion, and the last gasp of the media business as we have known it, but for me the arrival of the September issues of the big fashion magazines is still a thrilling moment. I still feel a jolt of excitement when I see them on the newsstand, as if a bell has just been rung and something wonderful is about to commence. Arriving long before the kids are actually back in school, and well before leather jacket weather, the September issues are one of my favorite harbingers of autumn.
The Splendor of Luxury Collides with Ordinariness Online
The brick-and-mortar world of luxury is a truly delightful place – gorgeous stores and showrooms, discreet and informed sales people, and highly attentive service. Retail locations and their front windows are the best possible advertisements for these brands. Fashion and lifestyle magazines are also brilliant showcases for luxury brands. Their ads are part of the editorial for publications like Vogue, Elle and Town & Country, and readers actually look forward to seeing them because they’re so compelling.
Over-distribution as a Killer of Luxury Brands
Prognosis: negative. I have been mourning the loss of one of the great luxury brands in my closet: Michael Kors. It used to be one of my go-to ready-to-wear brands: I loved the mash-up of classic Americana and jet-set European sensibilities, the use of color and texture, and those shrugs! I loved those cute little fine-gauge knit shrugs. I still have approximately fifteen of them in multiple colors, and they have saved me many times from the horror of exposing my upper arms. We adore you, Michelle Obama, but you have raised the upper-arm bar so high that when we consider going to the gym to pump iron, it seems futile, so we just shrug and put on a shrug instead.
Does Luxury Mean the Same Thing in the East and the West?
With Asia forecast to have 1 billion affluent consumers within the next decade, it’s a rather pressing issue to understand the nuances of what passes for luxury there. In the first quarter of this year, LVMH reported that 37% of its global revenue came from Asia. The region is huge and its cultures varied, so it’s foolhardy to make broad statements about the nature of Asian luxury. That said, taking a look at Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and Shanghai versus New York, London, Paris and Milan, some interesting themes emerge. Here are a few things I’ve observed in my travels:
How the Best Luxury Brands Keep Love Alive
Like any great relationship, our feelings about our favorite luxury brands usually start out in a blaze of passion, excitement and positive feelings. The first time I could afford a pair of Manolo Blanik shoes, I was almost as giddy as I was the day I met my best friend in college. The shoes were black patent leather high-heeled pumps, and they were so much fun, and so chic, that they made me feel that I was my best “me” whenever I put them on. Yes, shoe love can run deep.

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