Being rich, we have been told, is a wonderful feeling. Most people automatically find you attractive and there is that refreshing feeling when everyone agrees with anything you say. But also, and perhaps this is the most important thing, you can buy almost anything you set your Gucci-shaded eyes on. Fancy cars, shiny watches, truffled lobster topped with caviar drizzled with gold dust, and a PlayStation 3 per room in your 18-bedroom house by the sea—are all just one swipe away on that credit card with a bottomless credit limit.
But then there is, alas, such a thing as too much luxury. A Brioni suit with Zegna footwear is classy. But a bagful of Swarovski, an electric blue stretch limo and a limited edition Swiss watch made entirely of pink diamonds shaped like a cat? You’ve just become an East Coast rapper with his hit No. 1 single, I ain’t got no class dawg!
The message is simple: The line between class and bling is thin. We present an illustrated guide—comprising some of the most luxurious and some tasteless products from around the world—to making the right luxury choices when you summon that personal shopper next time. Read on while we draw that line.
Exhibit One:Talk is not cheap
Cool: What happens when you combine a South Korean mobile phone maker with one of the world’s top designer brands? Minimalist class. The LG Prada phone sold a million pieces when the first edition came out two years ago. The new edition, with full Qwerty keypad, is expected this Christmas—manicures are in order, ladies! New pieces are expected to sell at a bargain price of around Rs40,000.
Crude:In July 2006, Russian firm JSC Ancort collaborated with Austrian jeweller Peter Aloisson to produce what is still the most expensive mobile phone in the world. At just $1.3 million (around Rs6.5 crore), the Ancort Diamond Crypto is designed to effortlessly fit into the lifestyle of a Russian oligarch who is so scary that no one tells him his phone makes him look like an idiot. What is the phone made of? Mostly platinum. And some gold. And did we say platinum?
Exhibit two:What a mouthful
Cool: Expensive food is hard to understand. The only thing you can do with it is eat it. And we all know what happens to it after that little process. But if you must blow big bucks on food and beverage, we suggest a gorgeous bottle of champagne from Perrier-Jouet. Their limited edition (only 100) box set of 12 bottles of champagne will be made to each buyer’s personal tastes through a mix of blends and liqueurs. All for just €50,000 (around Rs31.5 lakh). Buyers also get those beautiful enamel-painted bottles that are works of art in themselves.
Crude: Serendipity 3 is a restaurant on the Upper East Side in New York that owes much of its fame to its Golden Opulence Sundae. At a laughable $1,000, the dessert is the perfect way to end a meal, especially if you can expense it to the office account. The sundae comprises premium vanilla ice cream, super expensive Amedei Porceleana chocolate and lots and lots of gold. And a little caviar. The guilt pang next morning comes free.
Exhibit three:The write stuff
Cool: Who knew that master stationery craftsmen Faber-Castell made outstanding luxury pens as well? A sub-brand, Graf von Faber-Castell, makes exquisite hand-made pens embellished with wood inlays that are expensive and supremely classy. The Graf pen of the year 2008 is made of Indian satinwood crafted into a parquet finish. That the nib is gold goes without saying. There is some platinum in there as well. All yours for around £1,900.
Crude: We don’t know where to start with this one. Montblanc is known for making those sober black pens with the little floral caps that look smashing in a smart businessman’s shirt pocket. But when they collaborated with Van Cleef and Arpels, they just let their creative juices go...out of the building. The hideous Limited Edition Mystery Masterpiece comes in nine variations, with a choice of rubies, sapphires or emeralds and 840 diamonds. If you must, you can get one for around $730,000.
Exhibit Four:Swipe in style
Cool: The American Express Centurion card is amongst the most exclusive credit cards in the world. Available by invitation only, the card comes with a host of great services, but at a price and an eligibility bar that is most exclusive. It’s yet to be launched in India, but obtaining the Centurion card in the US, for instance, involves an impeccable credit history and annual spending of at least a quarter of a million dollars—buying that Ancort Diamond Crypto phone is a plan.
Crude: Mastercard recently announced the launch of a diamond-studded credit card for its customers in Kazakhstan. We repeat: diamond-studded credit card. “Borat” Sacha Baron Cohen would have loved it. But this was not the first time they made a priceless card. Earlier this year, finance firm Dubai First announced the Royale Mastercard, by invitation only, with a single diamond and gold trim. We would have loved to give more details, but we weren’t invited.
Exhibit Five:Things get out of hand
Cool: Before we launch into lacklustre luxury luggage, we must say that women’s handbags are seen with kinder eyes than most luxury goods. After all, handbags, like tattoos and eyebrow piercings, are excusable as expressions of personal eccentricity.
However, there is nothing eccentric about this gorgeous Chanel lambskin purse in iconic black and white. Available now for Rs95,000.
Crude:How to make more than $5,000 in a flash? Take one zebra and then run a truck over it. Take the remains, run it through a car wash, loop a chain over it and, voila! You have the Fendi Fringed Zebra Baguette that is currently selling for $5,420. Our advice:
Just burn the money and spare yourself the certain and instant ridicule that will follow purchase.