This is not a time of year when anyone is thinking of minimalism—or even if they are, it is minimalism as defined by glossy design magazines and international luxury brands that create “minimalist” artefacts worth lakhs of rupees. The luxury market often defies accepted market dynamics—its behaviour is dictated by forces beyond the understanding of most of us.
When Gucci sells rubber sliders that cost over $300 (around ₹25,000; in photograph above)—sliders that you can’t tell apart, at a casual glance, from the ones selling in Lajpat Nagar market for ₹300—most of us, even those of us who write about luxury and are not cynical about it, are tempted to raise eyebrows. In fact, every year, when we put together our gifting guide at Lounge, we invariably debate questions like “what is luxury?” and “who is really buying carpets for ₹8 lakh?”
In many ways, Sabyasachi Mukherjee—who is on our cover this week, soon after the launch of his first global store in New York—has answered some of these questions for us. He tells Lounge that luxury and maximalism are really about projection; about the idea of creating desire. “What you wear is (just) performance,” says Sabyasachi, who is couturier to celebrities and is known for taking Indian design sensibilities to the world. “If you want to eventually target the big, large, affluent middle class, you have to start at the top and not in the middle.”
And that’s really what it’s about—price tags may change but what remains constant is that desire to hold an object that signals craft, authenticity, novelty, style, even power. And brands weave stories of craftsmanship and sustainability to create that desire. Ultimately, though, every object exists for a reason; it isn’t just decorative. Whether astronomically expensive or practically priced, it fulfils a need. As Rebecca West put it, “Art is not just a plaything.”
Our gifting guide this year—especially curated for the last-minute shoppers among us—draws on all these ideas. You could pick from these pages or use them as a moodboard to recreate the objects in your signature style, getting help from a local tailor or craftsperson to make your own statement. From a hamper created in a migrant community kitchen to sparkly shoes, from stylish lamps to set the mood for a party to snooze machines for an undisturbed nap, this is a guide to imaginative and indulgent gifting—with a touch of luxury.
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