Life’s not-so-little luxuries

People are being sniffy about the term ‘affordable luxury’. There’s no such thing, they insist – luxury is for the rich, not the wish-they-weres. Touchy much? Well I think there is such a thing – what do you call all the Chanel nail polishes, Hermes silk scarves and Smythson notebooks if not an affordable way to tap into the lifestyle of the rich and well-to-do?

Increasingly though, designers are catering less to the entry-level customer and more to their ultra high net worth clientele. How else to explain the new tier of uber-expensive fashion brands? Ahead of the curve as ever, Phoebe Philo started the trend with her spectacular – and spectacularly expensive – Celine reinvention. As well as rethinking the collection (an ode to stripped back trend-averse staples) she has completely repositioned the brand to sit alongside the likes of Hermes and Valextra, non-shouty stealth brands that appeal to the quietly rich. Her Classic Box bags hover around the £2,000 mark but who’s counting – they’re Celine!

Close behind comes Victoria Beckham who has matured from racy pleather leggings to her own range of Audrey Hepburn-like dresses and minimalist accessories. Her new line of keep-forever investment handbags clock in at £8,000 and the first drop sold out instantly on Meanwhile, Tom Ford’s new womenswear line straddles the price gap between ready-to-wear and couture. Those dazzling dresses we saw on the backs of Beyonce, Rachel Feinstein and Daphne Guinness? Anything from £3,000 to £22,000. Suddenly, affordable luxury is looking oh so very last decade. Who will be next aboard the top-tier gravy train?

[Originally published on]