Luxury in 2011

It is said that to build a future, you have to look and learn from the past. So here we are, with all that was good, bad and ugly in 2011!

By: Salman Z. Bukhari

Posted on: January 10, 2012

It is said that to build a future, you have to look and learn from the past. So here we are, with all that was good, bad and ugly, in 2011!

On a sunny tarmac at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi began 2011’s tryst with luxury. Cars and ministers alike waiting in line for a state welcome of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. As she exited the PIA flight and set her foot on the tarmac, what the world noticed about her was not her diplomacy and dialogue on Indo-Pak engagement, but her black Hermès Birkin. Media went into a tizzy and the austerity loving subcontinent went rabid calling this a shameful act by a representative of a country which is under tremendous international debt and poverty. The girl just wanted to make an entry, and come-on, she did it with style (ignore the ruffled clothes for a moment)! As for shame, it would have been a real shame had that Birkin been a fake! No?

No year can be without its share of controversies and shockers. And 2011 will best be remembered by the luxe connoisseur for the unceremonious exit of Dior’s creative force John Galliano. A drunken brawl leading to uncharitable anti-Semitic rant in a Parisian bar was recorded by one victim leading to a worldwide gasp. LVMH showed Galliano the door. The world of haute couture will take some time to recover from this sudden loss. While the house of Dior is still to announce the successor, one thing is for sure… whoever comes in next has very big boots to fill.

Apart from Galliano, it was a bad year for dictators, but a very good year for Africa and Middle East. With the collective power of common people, governments were toppled, and renaissance sought. We were humbled by what strength people hold. Back in India, Anna and his brigade ran a similar anti-corruption crusade. One common theme to all these ‘Big Victories’ of the common man was the unassuming internet. Making digital the BIG buzz word this year, smart phones, tablets and apps added to the worldwide web which made luxury even more accessible than ever. Leading the pack was Burberry, which redefined the way in which marketing can be done in this new era. Many scoffed at this democratization, but with 10 Million plus likes by ardent fans, it is enjoying the status of becoming the most popular label of 2011. The British brand shows no signs of slowing down this crusade. Prorsum Away… we say!

Many wins and one big loss for the world of technology - Apple’s Steve Jobs’ long battle with cancer ended. He gave life to inspired generations who have turned into fanatics for aesthetics, design and intuitive interface developed by the company. Apple made technology stylish and approachable…THX 2 U SJ, RIP!

Perseverance and human spirit took centre stage this year. Starting with the biggest jolt to an entire nation because of a natural disaster, Japan is still recovering from the aftershocks, but the swiftness and collective drive of the country is something we could all learn from. In an obvious aftermath of this calamity, compounded by the ageing population and impact of the economic slowdown carried forward from the previous year, Japan has fallen way back in the race of decadent luxury.

The European Union is showing major flaws of economic construct, leading to a collective crash which is due anytime if they continue the way they are, and America is falling into a downward spiral making folks on the Wall Street face the heat. Ironic as it may sound; Capitalist west continued its heavy dependence on Communist China to salvage business and livelihood. And did China save the world? The luxury world will attest it did.

China is a mystery in itself. The world’s sweat shop also has the maximum number of spenders on the very goods it assembles. Now, instead of only having goods ‘Made in China’, they have the privilege of enjoying goods ‘Made for China’. Zegna, Chanel, Vuitton and the likes made a beeline to please, bring it on.

India continued to be the next big thing after the mighty C. At least that’s what the pundits would like us to believe at the ET-CII Luxury Conference which was held this year in New Delhi. LuxuryFacts covered the event and sensed a diluted optimism in the air. “India this, India that”, said everyone, from ministers to head honchos of luxury labels worth their Blahniks. The numbers are rising, both of consumers and their disposable incomes. Sophistication to be a discerning luxury patron might be far away, but a little acceleration and soon we will have goods ‘Made for India by China’!

Like last year’s unexpected Louis Vuitton’s India-inspired store windows across the world to celebrate Diwali, Karl Lagerfeld ended this year on a high note making Indians very, very happy with Chanel’s Paris-Bombay winter showcase. Hermès dedicated a line of sarees in silk soon after it made a bold move to open its Mumbai flagship in the business district in Fort. Trust Hermes to do things differently and with so much ease. LuxuryFacts would simply like to say Merci Beucoup to each of these iconic labels for giving India so much honour.

Indians love their cars. The healthy growth in the automobile industry in 2011 is a fine indicator of our passion for wheels with no place to drive. Speaking of cars, India’s capital has another feather in its Nehru cap after hosting the country’s first F1 Grand Prix. Now that’s luxe on the fast lane! Fine dining took a huge leap with the opening of many world cuisine restaurants across the major metros and even a few tier 1 cities. Indian platter has never seen such a wide variety and as many Michelin star holding chefs descending on the nation. Property and gold we’d rather not even discuss. The prices and their demands seem not to make any rationale. Call it an indulgence of India’s penchant for appreciable investments, these two sectors will not see any decline, we are certain of that.

The year ended on another first - India’s first Cruise Collection Fashion Week held in Goa. Although it’s a bit too off in terms of timing, we are glad to have more of fashion. This was not the only first for 2011. India’s premier online luxury magazine, LuxuryFacts, celebrated its 1st Anniversary! Cheers to us and to you dear reader for whom we make sure we are omnipresent, getting news and insights from the industry experts, capturing events from front rows, reviewing latest stores, restaurants and sipping on finest bubblies, and travelling to far off places like Jordan, Tokyo and Ibiza. It’s a tough life, but so much for fun when we live it up in luxury!

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