Luxury: Goyard and Devambez' Ode to Artisans
Jun 15 2010
Our notion of what constitutes "luxury" has changed dramatically in recent decades. So too have our notions of craftsmanship and heritage, terms we hear with increasing frequency since the downturn. What does it mean for a luxury brand to remain true to its heritage? Does it matter that a brand no longer crafts its wares in the manner of previous generations? As consumers, should we care how or where a luxury product was made? These are questions many within the luxury industry are grappling with today.
Perhaps I'm old-school about these things but I personally find comfort in the knowledge that a brand strives to preserve techniques developed over decades and in some instances centuries. I take satisfaction in the fact that in my own small way, I am helping to keep that knowledge alive for generations to come. In short, I want to know that the item I purchase today is worth preserving for tomorrow.
Sadly, "craftsmanship" and "heritage" have become associated in the minds of many with outdated or antiquated modes of production. I could not disagree more strongly. Heritage, especially in association with innovation and creativity, can be an irresistible combination. Case in point: a book chronicling the history of French luggage maker Goyard.
The book's publisher Devambez, a house whose own distinguished history is closely intertwined with those of Poiret, Lanvin and Picasso, labored no less than seven years to assemble facts and documents and to track down artisans still able to produce handmade paper using centuries old techniques. Each hand cut page, each printed word is the product of intense research in traditional processes which in some instances have been enhanced with new cutting-edge techniques invented specifically for the task. It is, as Suzy Menkes pointed out in a recent article, an ode to artisans.
We buy luxury products because they make our eyes open a little wider, our hearts beat a little faster and our minds race with possibilities. In other words, we seek out products or brands with which we can form an emotional connection. Having had the privilege of seeing, touching and smelling this treasure, I can state unequivocally that to remain unmoved by its feat of craftsmanship would require nothing less than a heart of stone. To borrow Ms. Menkes' words, it is "a bible of luxury — not so much a book as a work of art and heart."
The Luxe Chronicles