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05-10-13 | Posted by

Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery and fantasized about how you would spend the money? Would you buy a mansion, diamonds, yacht, or an island? Whatever your pleasure, it’s sure to include a luxury item.

But is luxury just for the very rich? Definitely not, according to the speakers at the Beauty’s Luxury Lift-Off panel, sponsored by The Fashion Group International in New York City.

Luxury panel participants: Frederic Fekkai, La Mer's Nancy Feetham, Estee Lauder Companies' Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, Chanel's Ava Huang, Self's Laura McEwen, and Luxury Council's Greg Furman

Even though nearly 94% of the 18 to 34 age group is in debt, according to Laura McEwen, vice president and publisher of Self magazine, a sponsor of the event, these children of baby boomers crave the luxury experience. “They want Dior mascara, hair done by Fekkai, and are generally eager for luxury products and treatments. They’re paying attention to their appearance constantly,” she said.

“Coco Chanel believed that luxury is a necessity that starts where necessity ends,” said panelist Ava Huang, senior vice president, fragrance and skincare marketing, Chanel. “Some people think that poverty is the opposite of luxury. It’s actually vulgarity.” That said, maybe it’s time to rethink your appointment to have diamonds imbedded in your nail tips.

“Whatever the culture, throughout history, women have gone to extraordinary heights for their beauty,” said McEwen. Just think about the Victorian passion for corsets, Japanese Geisha’s use of lead-based foundation, or Cleopatra’s milk baths.

So if luxury today is not over the top indulgence, what is it? “We refer to luxury as having the Three Cs: craft, creativity, and culture,” said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president, Aramis &Designer Fragrances, Beauty Bank and IdeaBank, The Estee Lauder Companies. For example, the Cashmere Mist fragrance from Donna Karan gained huge popularity without much marketing support, because women responded to its quality and subtle beauty.

Sometimes luxury involves an experience, not just a product. When panelist Frederic Fekkai, founder of Fekkai hair care and salons, opened his first salon, he included a café, not necessarily a moneymaker, but a warm and authentic touch.

For marketers, “luxury must come from the heart, followed by communication and collaboration,” said moderator Greg Furman, president of the Luxury Marketing Council. The brand’s goal is to include you, the shopper, as a partner in defining luxury.

Partnering with a prestige company sounds inclusive and respectful, but we’re still being marketed something. At least it will be something we love and relate to.

For many, luxury has nothing to do with acquiring objects, such as  the luxury of time, perhaps the most valuable commodity in our “gotta have it yesterday” lives. It’s interesting that going to the gym to work out is a necessity, but sleep has become a luxury.

Not merely relative, luxury is a very personal concept. But if you treat yourself to something that is not a necessity, well made, and perhaps a little scarce, you are on the right path.

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