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Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  2,187 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
A hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at the luxury fashion industry today. There was a time when luxury was available only to 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 offered a pampered buying experience. Today's luxury marketplace would b ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 16th 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The
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Joe Ringenberg
Jan 01, 2008 Joe Ringenberg rated it really liked it
a good read. piles of research, interviews with the best of the luxury cast(e), investigative journalism, and fashion-magazine luxury brand wallowing-in.
Ten Things I can now argue for/against:
1. Hermes bags, luggage, and scarves (for)
2. Chanel No. 5 (for)
3. fake handbags (against)
4. child labor, human trafficking, the black market (against)
5. Louis Vuitton (against)
6. the conglomeration of luxury brands (against)
7. Japanese cultural values with respect to luxury goods (against)
8. architect Peter
Jan 18, 2008 Joel rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: shallow wealthy persons
Very near the end of the book, Thomas sums up her book through the eyes of a friend.

"I see where you're going with this: luxury companies have gone mass and along the way forgotten their original mission, which was to provide the rich with truly exceptional products."
The friend continues,
"So here's what I want to know: What do the rich do now?"

This is not what I wanted to know. What I wanted to know was, why should I care what the rich do now, or ever did? Thomas's entire thesis seems to be "lux
Mar 01, 2008 James rated it really liked it
I should not have read Deluxe immediately after having read Richistan. I’m a huge fan of coupling two similar books, it’s like peanut butter and jelly, or whiskey and my mouth, but this combination was unintended or at least unconscious and these true tales of Excess and Image left me in a bizarre, contradictory paradox of feeling both rich and poor. Rich in Spirit. Poor in Reality.

If there ever was a pair of prissy Siamese twins sashaying around America on their yachts clutching Hermes handbags
Jason Pettus
Jun 20, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

I confess, I know barely anything about the world of high fashion, and so of course especially know nothing about the highest end of it all, the so-called "luxury" brands like Prada, Gucci and Hermés that charge just insane prices for the stupidest little stuff (a hundred dollars for a handkerchief, f
Tiny Pants
Aug 15, 2008 Tiny Pants rated it liked it
This book I had wanted to read since it came out, and it was great. Humorously, not long after I read it, I saw that it was for sale at the Kitson warehouse sale, alongside marked down Habitual jeans and Michael Kors wedge sandals in an unheated, hangar-like space (where no, I didn't buy anything -- though I did score at the similar Lisa Kline sale). On this same trip, I also saw the (awesome) Takashi Murakami retrospective that notoriously included a Louis Vuitton boutique in the middle of the ...more
Sep 01, 2013 Bloodorange rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us, non-fiction, sociology
4.5 stars, rounded up because this is a must-read: for those who believe in the transformative power of shopping and those who don't; for people who consider themselves unaffected by advertising and for those who notice the dramatic decrease in the quality of clothing they buy.

A quotation I found (which didn't make it into the book, but encapsulates the message of at least a large portion of it) comes from Jean-Louis Dumas, the late chairman of the Hermès group from 1978 until 2006: "We don't ha
Sep 19, 2007 Sheherazade rated it it was ok
Well-researched and written, but I was hoping for more criticism of the industry itself, especially in regards to cost-cutting and the declining quality of these goods. I got the sense that as a fashion writer, the auther still holds these brands in such high regard to really see things with a clear eye. An outsider perspective (or a real industry insider) would have given this more edge.
Dec 10, 2007 Suede rated it really liked it
It wasn't that I didn't like this book, but that I didn't really learn anything that I didn't already know.
But, on the plus side, the author was very factual about what was going on in the world of luxury. I didn't feel that it had a overwhelming biased bent. I thought she would point out repeatedly how silly it is to spend 2K on a bag that everyone owns that's covered in a logo (hello, it's free advertising, what are we girls? A billboard? I think not!) I (obviously) would have berated the logo
WORN Fashion Journal
In the beginning there were clothes. They were at your service – they performed for you, practical, reliable, appropriate. Still, we are thoughtful creatures, driven to art and individuality – and so clothes became fashion, and eventually, fashion became couture. No longer strictly practical, this new rank of clothes represented something more than just a cover. They were luxury: costly fabric impeccably tailored to be durable, classic, and stylish. But what is luxury now? Dana Thomas’s book Del ...more
This book is interesting to read. I set out with the preconception that I would discover why people behave like sheep. Why do individuals feel emotionally secure carrying a ‘luxury-label’ branded handbag? The stock answer is to feel part of a tribe: however that is powerfully contradicted by the so-called ‘tribe’ with which one doesn’t so much as pass the time of day, let alone invite the brand-bonded ‘blood brother’ stranger home for dinner? Has the power of visual communication now overcome th ...more
Sep 02, 2007 Lena rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Dana Thomas has been a fashion writer for years, so she is well qualified to talk about the dramatic changes that have taken place in the luxury fashion industry over the last few decades. Once the exclusive realm of the uber-rich, small fashion houses previously dedicated to craftsmanship and quality have been gobbled up by multi-national corporations bent on increasing their shareholder's bottom lines. Towards that end, the majority of these houses have ruthlessly sought to cut costs by using ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Meridith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: patrik
Great, thoroughly researched book tracking the explosion of masstige in the 90s--the players, the haters & the globalisation. All your fashion subjects are represented.

Geography: There is just enough backstory for the fashion-addled with ADD: the politics behind the rise of China as a manufacturing giant, new money in Russia & buying power in India.

History: among the first to understand the importance of branding are the social climber & legend Gabrielle Chanel & ruined genius Pa
Sep 15, 2007 Rachael rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in modern culture
Immediately engaging. THE book I would ask a genie for at this moment, but instead found on the tables of Barnes and Nobles. A fascinating and incredibly relevant read. Luxury culture is perhaps one of the most discussed of current events, and will continue to be. To be savvy on this topic is invaluable. I've been reading fashion magazines for years, so I knew most of the names and references and could appreciate the gossip, but it would be clear and interesting for everyone. It will inform all ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Melody rated it it was ok
I want to be more interested in fashion than I am. I want to care. I want to think it's interesting. I want to... oh, hell- this book had nothing much for me, so back to the library with it.
Aug 17, 2009 Ashley rated it really liked it
I'm be no means a person who is obsessed with luxury goods, but this was a fascinating read that explained the culture around such products, the companies who produce them, and the key players in the industry. Like most people, I recognize the names (i.e. Chanel, Gucci, Prada, etc.), but couldn't for the life of me tell you who their designers are or what their image/reputation is (i.e. Hermes is the epitome of classic style while other lines are known to be more daring).

Thomas did a superb job
Feb 10, 2011 Trena rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fashionistas and Business Tycoons
If you have an interest in the business of fashion (or business, or fashion), you must read this book. It explores how luxury brands--couture houses such as Dior and Chanel, custom luggage makers such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes--went from tiny purveyors of wildly expensive goods to the very wealthy to aspirational and then to attainable by the middle class. Chapters cover the consolidation of luxury brands (LVMH being the behemoth), vertical integration of the supply and distribution chain, the ...more
Amy Norton
Jun 20, 2010 Amy Norton rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the history and evolution of luxury brands
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 18, 2010 Monica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The gist of the book is that luxury products are no longer luxurious because, in order to reap in profits, they have been cheapened so they can be marketed to middle income consumers instead of the high-rollers they used to exclusively cater to. Thomas does not really suggest what, if anything, is to be done about this situation, or why anybody should really care. Actually, the disturbing thing is that while she does seem concerned about product quality, what appears to bother her more is who is ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
When I was in the Peace Corps, sweating through my sheets every night and drinking water that had an oily sheen and was always at room temperature, I thought a lot about luxury. If you get two Peace Corps Volunteers together, they will gossip. If you get three together, they will talk about food: explicit scenes involving bagels, pizza, and cold, cold, margaritas. Food was one of the luxuries we missed most of all. My personal favorite luxury fantasy was imagining lying on a couch watching video ...more
Aug 21, 2008 Jeannen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The title of this book is somewhat misleading -- Dana Thomas doesn't really make the case that luxury -- by which she means luxury brands -- has "lost its luster" -- clearly for the millions of people who lust after and are willing to spend time and energy on acquiring luxury brand items, luxury is still very much an ideal towards which they aspire. Rather, the book demonstrates that the word "luxury" means something entirely different when combined with the term "brand." Luxury brands are about ...more
Jan 31, 2008 leighcia rated it it was ok
I probably shouldn’t review this book, as I’ve never actually been in possession of it. I read or skimmed through about 50-70 pages of it while going to Barnes and Nobles at lunchtime. In any case, the book traces the development of the luxury brand corporations, all the while lamenting the loss of fine artisan craftsmanship that once characterized brands like Louis Vuitton or whatnot. The author focuses a lot on the founding of various large fashion corporations, and the profit-driven motives t ...more
Jan 27, 2010 Gail rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
Maybe it was fate, I dunno; but I read this from a crusie ship library as I was on a cruise to Panama when the Haiti earthquake occurred. It lent a certain ironic tang to my reading.

The book, which is a fairly seamless compilation of journal articles and notes, discusses the ways in which the old carriage trade companies have changed their approaches to marketing and to production as they attempt mostly successfully to increase profits. It details what happens when small, exclusive, and proud co
Jul 05, 2016 Phyllis rated it liked it
Shelves: fashion
Really interesting book about what happened to the concept of luxury fashion when a bunch of businessman decided to buy pretty much every well-known, respected fashion house in Europe and make the industry less about making beautiful things and more about making money. The parts about couture customers were especially interesting, as I always wondered who these people are and how they think. I can't even conceive of an existence where Dior flies a seamstress to my front door to make minor adjust ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Seligne rated it did not like it
Don't waste your time on this drivel! I have just seen an hour-long presentation by the author and she is a moron.
Jul 24, 2011 Dеnnis rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2008 lauren rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: someone who actually cares about Louis Vuitton
Dara Cincinati
Dec 21, 2016 Dara Cincinati rated it it was amazing
This book changed my perceptions about the luxury industry!
Julian Bu
Dec 12, 2016 Julian Bu rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2017 Catherine rated it it was amazing
What does it mean for luxury when everyone and their sister is carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag?
Mar 08, 2016 Kit rated it really liked it
Very informative read, this opinion coming from someone who does buy a lot from China, and who thought nothing of counterfeits. However, the conclusion I drew away from this is probably more anti-consumerism PERIOD rather than lamenting the loss of true luxury as the author does by the conclusion of the book. Yes these independent houses who have maintained their integrity create art according to their own terms, but it doesn't prevent them from participating in a highly inflated global market. ...more
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“Unlike perfume, handbags are visible on the body, and--like Air Jordans for teenagers--give the wearer the chance to brandish the logo and publicly declare her status or aspiration.” 0 likes
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