If you happen to be in London in the next month, be sure to check out the “What is Luxury” exhibit at the Victoria & Albert museum, which explores that deep and existential question that we ponder every day.
Objects on view include an actual Golden Fleece made from 18 karat gold thread that took 2,500 hours to make; an elaborate Howdah or elephant chair made of silver from India that was “uncomfortable” for both the rider and the elephant; and a crown from Portugal made from gold, diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Because why choose just one.
Still the British are nothing if not witty, and the website for the exhibit is beyond delightful. Play a game where you can “make” (or fail to make) luxury products; take a test called “The Definery” that will determine if an object you own or desire is “luxury” or “vulgar” (a Proenza Schouler bag I crave for $1,700 is considered “vulgar”); and even enter for a chance to win a luxury prize or a single night in the Kensington Hotel — although we prefer the Lanesborough Hotel.
No, the odds of you winning aren’t very good, but neither are the odds that you’ll ever own any of these objects. Best just to enjoy, covet and appreciate them from afar.