Rich buying again, but middle class still hurting
Since the economic downturn last September required tax-payer infused bailout money to flow to the coffers of so many companies, marketing efforts and purchasing by wealthier Americans have been slavishly pursuing one goal, discretion! And somtetimes to outlandish degrees.
Consider that last holiday season, Tiffany & Co., the premier brand in upscale jewelry, had a reward program for it's employees who brought in used bags from other retailers so that it's customers could leave their stores with anonymous purchases, well disguised from papparazzi that had stationed themselves along 5th Avenue.
At The Master's golf turnament in May, the familiar Banking logos that, up until then, grace the ultra-elite corporate sponsorship area, were missing. All the same companies were present, and at the same cost. However, the firms on Madison Avenue (rightly) decided it might put many Americans off to see the JP Morgan, Citibank, Bank of America or Goldman Sachs logos spending millions at a golf tournament mere months after recieving "emergency funding" from the government. The super low-key approach even extended to a "no business cards" ban in the tents.
This shroud of marketing secrecy has extended to most all product categories tailored to the wealthy, which has led to huge drops in revenue at magazines like Vogue, Town & Country and Robb Report, and even the demise of a venerable titan, Goumet.
I thought it might be interesting to illuminate, for the readers of this blog, a few of the products and services that have become available since last September. These were all launched during the downturn, have had viturally no advertising and are available for purchase as of today. Some are outrageous, some are alluring, and all make the Neiman Marcus Ultimate Holiday Gift look like Sharper Image.
The residences start at Studio's, of which there a very few, and include one, two and three-bedroom condominiums that resemble nothing you will enocounter on a Carnival cruise. The ultimate luxury experience can be found in one of the two, six-bedroom Penthouses on board (one is still available).
The World boast a deli, a grill and 4 world-class restaurants that operate 365 days a year. There is a first-run cinema which seats 150 guests, at each port of call there are on-board lectures about the culture of the region being visited, a bookstore, a wood-paneled library, an full-sized internet cafe, a tea garden, tennis courts, a full (and beyond) range Spa and most luxuriously, the only floating Graff Jewelry boutique on the planet.
Price Tag: Unavailable, though the Studios sold for a bit more than $700,000 and were fractional ownwerships. Speculation is that the 2 bedrooms, which comprices the greatest number of the ships residences, start at $2.7 million + 8% ($216,000) annual maintenance fees.
More info at: aboardtheworld.com
The Manor is a single-family residence located in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles, California. The home is not entirely new, but after the former owners could not find a buyer, a decision was made to nearly gut the home and give it a dramatic upgrade. Construction started at end of 2008 and will be complete in March 2010 (though the realtor states it's "move in ready").
The property sits on 4.7 acres of some of the most expensive land in the United States. One of the more unique things about the property is all of the acreage is on flat land, a rarity for property of that size in the hills of L.A.
The residenceboasts over 56,000 square feet, not counting the 17,000+ square feet of attic space, home to the in-house beauty salon. Additional features include: 16 carports, 3 tennis courts, an observatory, one indoor and one outdoor olympic sized pool, manicured landscaping and enough marble to make the Pope blush. The good news is it sells for $1.5 million per room. The bad news is there are 100 rooms (not counting the aforementions attic).
Total Cost: $150,000,000.00 from current owners Aaron and Candy Spelling.
More info at: Christie's Great Estates
Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita
I am no car-head, but I know "hot damn" when I see it. The Koenigsegg brand is known to produce some of the most expensive cars in the world, but they really went all out on this one. As soon as the nickname leaked (Diamond) the car world went all atwitter.
Since I have no idea how much power a unit of horsepower produces (or why we still measure cars by animal standards?), lets go straight to the particulars. All you need know is there are only (?!?) 3 available world-wide and the paint job for the car is done in diamond dust!
Total Cost: $5,ooo,ooo
More info at: koenigsegg.com or deatiled at jalopnik.com
Oakley Elite C-6 Sunglasses
The Oakley Elite C-6 sunglasses block the sunlight from your eyes. . . so you can see better. . .kind of like your hand. . .only more elite-like.
Each of pair of sunglasses take 90 man-hours to create, which is why the company has "limited production to 200." That was hard to type bcause the cost of each pair of these Oakley's will set you back. . .
More info at: Oakley
Hermes Crocodile Hoodie
I think the title is self-explanatory, but if I have to I will write it out for you again. This is a hoodie, made of crocodile pelts, by Hermes.
Who in the world is asking for such a thing, you ask? Well, one famous owner of this utla-indulgent piece of clothing is Mr. Pharell Williams. How much did he pay for his? More than likely, nothing. How much will you need to pay for yours?
More info at: Hermes
Dartz Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition SUV
The people at Dartz set out to create the world''s most luxurious Sport Utility Vehicle in March and, when they delivered on the promise this past October, the amenities became the talk of the industry. The automobile includes gold-plated bullet-proof windows, 22 inch Kremlin Red Star gold-plated rims, Tungsten and white gold gauges with diamonds and rubies, white gold, diamond and ruby grill and sideboards, Kevlar coating, a special-edition Vertu 9the world's best) mobile phone and three bottles of the most expensive vodka on the planet, Russo-Baltique.
However, all of these appointments took a backseat (literally) to the creative path taken in choosing seat covers for the Red Diamond Edition, whale penis. They choice was based on the mammal being "submerged for the entirety of it's life" and the organ only being exposed to the outside of the body for "short periods," which thus produces "a luxuriant skin, soft beyond compare." Since a whale's penis can "only reach 8 feet long, each vehicle needed nearly two of them for each car in production. How much for ride on this gentle giants genetalia?
More info at: Jalopnik
Hublot Black Caviar Bang Wristwatch
While there are countless wristwatches that exceed the Black Caviar Bang's asking price, nothing in this price-range (or even close) has been produced in the hourolocical world since the market meltdown of last September.
The Caviar's cache resides not in it's complex mechanics, but instead in the watches surreal engineering. Although the case is made of 18 karat white gold, it is not visible to the eye because of the black diamonds, cut in various shapes and sizes, that seem to maghically float on the case and face of the watch.
The watch houses 28.5 carats tw of diamonds and took 2000 hours of work to produce. To hide this under your tree will cost how much?
More info at: Hublot
Eton Diamond Shirt
The shirt-maker Eton was founded in 1928 and for the first 79 years, they were pretty much a sane company. That all changed when it came time to celebrate their 80th Anniversary. They wanted to celebrate the occasion with a bang. Instead from sartorialists around the world started measuring their management staff for straight-jackets.
What Eton produced for the big date was the Diamond Shirt, which is a shirt made of the "finest and rarest of Egyptian cottons" and features five colored diamonds on each botton along the placket and cuff.
There is no dry-cleaner on earth I would trust not to lose one (or all) of these buttons, but if you do, the Diamond Shirt can be yours for. . .
More info at: nowhere. the shirt sold already at Harrods.
Ralph Lauren Notorious
What percentage of the cloth used in making Ralph Lauren's pants is needed for the area covering his balls? I would think nearly all of it, or at least 90%.
When he annouced a launch of his signature frangrance early this year (it's now available), nobody could imagine he would race to the top of the chart as one of the most expensive on the market. For the sake of comparison I have to let the cat out of the bag early on this one. The 2.5 ounce bottle comes in at a whopping $4,000.00.
I know there are (few) more expensive fragrances on the market (the Clive Christian's Imperial Majesty at $215,000 comes to mind), however none of them have launched in the past 3 years and on a per-ounce basis are arguably a better value. The IM comes in at $12, 800 per once, to Ralph's $1,850. The difference is, when you are done with the Notorious, you will have an empty bottle, whereas upon completing your Imperial Majesty, you will still be in ownership of a hand-crafted Baccarat container with an 18-k gold collar and a 5 carat diamond at the crown of the stopper.
Both Katie Holmes and Elton John wear Imperial Majesty, and unopened bottles (only 10 of each men's and womens are produced each year) are verified to be housed in airtight safe-deposit boxes as investment goods by collectors. Thus far, there are no significant names attached to the Lauren offering. And to quote David Allen Grier, Ralph Lauren "Have you lost your damn mind?"
Lastly and just in time for Thanksgiving. . .
4505 Meats Turducken
Is it possible that I could convince you that an uncooked Thanksgiving turkey could be considered a luxury product? Well you are correct, a turkey cannot be counted as such.
However we are not talking about a turkey, we are talking about a Turducken, which is described by it's seller, 4505 Meats, as:
a combination of turkey, duck and chicken which comes on a bed of root
vegetables in a roasting pan and includes an electric thermometer with a preset
alarm on it, making it simple for home cooks to follow the directions and pull
the bird from the oven when the thermometer beeps.
The 15-20 pound bird (or bird, bird, bird) is going fast so place your order NOW!
More info at: 4505Meats and pick up an "spritual t-shirt" from them while you're shopping, because God help us all.