Earlier this month, a west London restaurant unveiled, proudly, an edible edifice it dubbed the “Glamburger”. You’ve probably read all about it – a dish rammed with extravagant ingredients such as lobster, truffle and caviar, coated in gold leaf and costing an eye-watering (though not necessarily mouth-watering) £1,100 (£1,237.50 with service).
It made me think of a handbag.
Not just because it’s probably about as easy to digest as one, but because at about the same time, a bunch of websites went haywire reporting on an Hermès Birkin for sale on 1stDibs, a website that offers fine art, luxurious antiques as well as prized vintage clothing (Chanel suits made by Coco herself, that sort of thing). Even in that context, this handbag is exceptional. Exceptionally expensive: it costs approximately £270,000.
Like that burger, it’s the ingredients that make the bag so expensive. It’s not just rare, but a one-off. It’s made of Nilo crocodile (expensive), and features white gold hardware (even more expensive) encrusted with around 250 diamonds weighing almost 10 carats. It’s also Hermès, which adds a certain cachet, and ensures that it’s amazingly well made. I’m sure that burger takes plenty of skill to cook, too. But it’s not the skill of the creation you’re left reeling at, but the ostentation. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Personally, that’s because it feels like a lazy form of luxury – a way of pushing up the price, of making something look more expensive, without having to do very much. Minimum input, maximum impact. Of a fashion, at least. There was plenty of lazy luxury in the autumn/winter 2014 collections, where designers swagged fur across anything and stitched up crocodile and stuff like vicuña, the world’s rarest fabric: a coat can end up costing £120k.
Who buys that? Quite a few people apparently. The super rich, for whom hyper-priced materials have become a must-have. But should designers be compromising their aesthetic and pandering to them, grasping so easily at making a quick buck?
Gold leaf, incidentally, is tasteless. I think in every meaning of the word.Reuse content