Thursday night, the 2012 ALL ACCESS: FASHION presented by Tysons Galleria kicked off with a panel in put together by Fashion Group International entitled “LUXURY: From Conspicuous Consumption to Connoisseurship”. Moderated by the ever eloquent Karen Sommer Shallet, Editor in Chief of DC Magazine, the panelists included professional from various industries: Barbara Hawthorn, Principal and Founder Barbara Hawthorn Interiors, Inc., Mark Lowham, Managing Partner TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Aureta Thomollari, Style Blogger and Fashionista of Aureta’s Blog, and James Tyree, Account Coordinator for La Mer & Jo Malone London.
One of the most standout topics during the lively discussion was “defining luxury”. Barbara gave three examples of personal definitions, one of which came from Coco Chanel, who claims “luxury must be comfortable”, which didn’t jive necessarily with the other definitions.Â Barbara suggested that her own outlook on luxury has to have an element of surprise, it must answer a yearning we have in a magical way. She also stated for her, it’s very personal and that she helps her clients find that luxury element by making it identify with each of them. James agreed with her by saying luxury is found within the details and creating a whole experience for their consumers.Â There must be an element of surprise and delight.Â Mark commented on the Washington DC luxury real estate market by saying that it is alive and well and that people are upgrading and moving to places that are walkable distances to shopping, living, working, playing, like Georgetown, Arlington, Kalorama, downtown McLean.Â The clients are extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful in making their decision. Aureta stated that from her perspective, luxury is becoming more democratic, using the example of high end designers who are making their wares accessible to the masses nowawdays like through Kohl’s or H&M. Of course, they are not of the same quality, but it offers a touch of luxury to be available to more people. Also, now in the fashion world, more people are mixing and matching, function and purpose, style and substance together equals true luxury.
The panel seemed to agree on that true luxury isn’t just about having something out of reach from a price perspective, but that there must be an appreciation and understanding of the value in which one is investing. It can be found a moment, like a bubble bath in the afternoon, or a cashmere sweater, an Hermes bag of which the price and the value is about the artist who spent the time to handcraft and sew each stitch, not just the bag itself, paint rich with pigment, watches to add to a collection, vintage clothing, a compound which is centered around family, a scent that is wrapped with a bow and creates a high touch experience in the moment of reopening at home after purchasing.Â All of these are luxurious and part of each person’s identity.
As we the consumer become more educated, even tech savvy and have an elevated awareness of our own needs and wishes, we develop an editorial role, carefully curating our purchase decisions, when eventually we reach connoisseurship.
What is your definition of luxury?
ALL ACCESS: FASHION presented by Tysons Galleria continues Friday evening with the Intermix Fashion Show at 7pm and throughout the day on Saturday.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.