Dana Thomas, style and cultural reporter for Newsweek
, brings a hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at the world of "New Luxury" and how the massification of luxury goods has ensured that luxury isn't luxurious any longer
There was a time when luxury was available to only the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. Luxury wasn't simply a product, it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality, and a pampered buying experience. Today's luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to the old-world elite. Gone are the family-owned businesses dedicated to integrity and quality; the industry is now run by massive corporations focused only on growth, visibility, brand awareness, advertising, and, above all, profits. Handmade goods are practically extinct, and almost all manufacturing has been outsourced to large factories in places such as China, where your expensive brand-name handbag is being assembled right next to one from a mass-market label that will cost substantially less.
Dana Thomas, a journalist who has covered style and the luxury business for The Washington Post, Newsweek>,and The New York Times Magazine from Paris for the past fifteen years, digs down into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover all the secrets that Prada, Gucci, and Burberry don't want us to know. Traveling from the laboratories in Grasse, where Christian Dior and Prada perfumes are manufactured, to the crowded factories in China, where workers glue together "Made in Italy" bags by the thousands, Thomas explores the whole of today's high-end shopping experience to answer some pressing questions: What is the new definition of luxury when advertising for this upscale lifestyle is targeted mainly to the middle-class masses? What are we paying for when quality has given way to quantity, and luxury is no longer just for the upper-class elite? Thomas has travelled all over the world to interview corporate heads and factory workers, the old-money, old-luxury clients and the new luxury-obsessed middle-class consumer, and she paints a surprising picture of today's New Luxury. With Deluxe, she delivers a fast-paced, uncompromising look at the real world behind the glossy magazines and red carpet couture and asks: How did luxury lose its luster?