p.s. – how do we perceive real quality?

Do we really understand quality anymore?

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

Taken from an article by Pasquale Cusano (founder & publisher) of Montecristo magazine – on The Value of Value.

Hermes scarves
Hermes scarves

It got me thinking too because I believe quality matters and it’s not always to do with material things. When thinking of objects of desire, from a handcrafted piece of jewellery to a stylish car, an elegant suit or pair of designer shoes,

Manolo Blahnik
Manolo Blahnik

yes, there is a monetary price that can be invested to obtain these things. When we seek quality items, we assume that a brand name is a seal, an assurance and a promise of high quality.  In most cases, this is true.  In some cases, this is not.  But what about investing in the little things that matter?quality2

What about the value of taking time and the genuine, simple things in life?  The barber, the tailor, the shoemaker, the baker. Even the old fashioned watch maker, took all their time.  Maybe we do not really understand quality anymore, because we’re all too busy to see underneath the appearance of things, too preoccupied to understand their true value.quality1

Quality was about using the best raw materials possible, and using the best techniques and some creativity, to achieve the desired results.  Products that are beautiful but also durable, not just a brand name.  They represent slow work.  Therefore, some brands take decades to emerge as leaders.  Until then, they are obscure, known by very few.  When discovered, some styles are considered “classical” while others are “outrageous”, representing things that will only be appreciated years from now. So how do we perceive quality?

Become curious.  Ask questions about what you are about to consume, purchase, invest your time in. What is quality?  First and foremost, it is attention to detail.  Quality is not appearance only, but what is under the skin.  The powerful brands of today need to bring back, to reinforce the message that quality is about inspiration, stimulation, to get the younger, emerging artisans of tomorrow to reach new, higher levels.  To stay true to their vision, taking no shortcuts.

the best quality
the best quality

Fortunately, many quality experiences are simply free or of little cost.  Time is the ultimate cost, and the ultimate luxury.  The amount of time you invest in simply enjoying something, learning about something, experiencing something, that is the most valuable, long-lasting pleasure.  It’s in the tiny details that constitutes what real quality is.

How do you perceive quality?

style & substance – The BIG FIVE of the Fashion Kingdom

Interesting facts about some of the most popular luxury fashion houses:

1)      Hermès:

Details, details.
Details, details – jungle love

The majority of Hermès is still family-owned (71% is family; 29% is public shares), which means it has the luxury of taking risks when it wants to and staying the course when it doesn’t.  The length of thread necessary to make 1,000 Hermès scarves is equal to the distance between the earth and the moon.  One silk moth yields one scarf.

The Kelly bag (named after Grace Kelly and the second most sought after bag after the Birkin) is made with 36 pieces of leather and 680 hand stitches.

Hermès start in fine jewelry came from working with silver to trim saddlery – so the house’s first clients were horses!

2)      Louis Vuitton:  The Louis Vuitton brand is not just one of the most popular brands in the world, but also one of the most valuable.  Focus on its heritage as a travel brand helps it to retain its core customer–the jet setter. What you probably don’t know is the fact that every single one of the Louis Vuitton handbags is handmade and this is definitely something that justifies the high price some of their items have. But it gives you a great feeling knowing that what you wear has been created especially for you by a person with passion for design.

Angelina Jolie for Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas
Angelina Jolie for Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas

Automobile collectors probably know this, but what most women don’t know is the fact that there is an event called Louis Vuitton Classic that is sponsored by the brand and concerns automobile collectors. They also sponsor events that deal with sailing such as The Louis Vuitton Cup, an event that regards international yachting. I bet you never thought about that when you were dreaming of that beautiful Louis Vuitton bag.

3)      Chanel: It is no secret to anyone who calls themselves a lover of fashion that Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel is thought to be one of the most influential figures in fashion history.  She has been credited as the person that gave the “little black dress” its fame. But there is also talk that she started the trend that made sun tanning popular. Rumor has it that in 1923 she was on a cruise bound for the Cannes and by mishap got a bad case of sun burn. She was able to somehow make a bad tan look fabulous, thus starting a trend in favor of sun kissed skin.

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian

Marilyn Monroe’s favorite scent was Chanel No 5. which led her to become the official face of the fragrance. This is arguably one of the first records of a celebrity endorsement.

As everyone knows, Karl Lagerfeld is the current Head Designer and Creative Director of Chanel and a legend in his own right.  He is considered one of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world.  Known for his bold designs and constant reinvention, he’s been hailed in Vogue magazine as the “unparalleled interpreter of the mood of the moment.”

4)      Guccigucci belt

The loafer
The loafer

In the grand Italian fashion, Gucci as long been known for its leather goods, and 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the house’s iconic loafer.  Over the years the preppy staple has been loved by such boldfaced names as Sophia Loren, Jodie Foster, and Jane Birkin (Hermès named their most popular bag after her) who famously wore the shoes with wide-legged white pants and a barely there lace crop top.  The brand is celebrating in style by issuing new versions of the classic, including patent leather in a full spectrum of colors, including orange, coral, blue, green, yellow and red.  Long live the loafer!

5)      Dior:  J’adore!

Charlize Theron in Dior
Charlize Theron in Dior
Dior Saddle Bag
Dior Saddle Bag

Christian Dior had a love for architecture and this is one of the features that inspired him to make clothes that showed the female body’s ethereal appearance. He designed clothes that showed the width of the hips and gave importance to the bust area.

Christian Dior believed in luck. In fact, he believed that the most important feature that kept him going and made him successful was good luck.  It worked.  But he was also known to be very superstitious and he never began a couture show without having consulted his tarot card reader.

In 1949, Dior was the first couturier to arrange licensed production of his designs. Having realized the importance of the complete look – and that the New Look could not be successfully achieved without the correct Dior shoes, gloves and hat.

On February 12, 1947, Dior showed his debut collection, presenting 90 different looks.  The opulence of his designs contrasted with the grim post-war reality of Europe, and helped re-establish Paris as the joyful fashion capital it had once been.  The house was inundated with orders and world-famous stars such as Rita Hayworth and Margot Fonteyn bought and wore pieces, raising Dior’s profile significantly. Dior was even invited to stage a private presentation of the collection for the British royal family – although King George V  reportedly forbade the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, from wearing the New Look in case it set a bad example at a time when rationing was still in force.

In 1955, a 19-year-old Yves Saint Laurent (does that name sound familiar?) became Dior’s design assistant. Of course the rest is history.  Recently after long speculation on who would finally replace John Galliano ( who got fired from the job) at Dior, the word had finally gotten out – it’s Belgian designer Raf Simons who made the cut as the new Artistic Director of women’s Haute Couture for the house of Dior.

Don’t you just love fashion!