When I visited Champagne a few years ago on a big buyers trip, I remember Christian Holthausen with particular clarity, then working as export director for Charles Heidesick. I don’t know if the whole thing was set up to provide the greatest contrast between the unbelievably boring clichés of the other houses and his fresh outsider perspective, but it certainly seemed so at the time.
He has written brilliantly on the rules of the ‘new luxury’ on jancisrobinson.com.
“Signs of consumption have now become so coded, it’s no longer about the nouveau riche trying to appear wealthy as it was during the first part of this century. It’s about the rich trying to appear ‘just like everybody else’ while simultaneously displaying coded signs for the benefit of their aspirational peer group. A lot of these codes are immersed in notions of self-care, health and altruism.”
“I recently spoke with a very wealthy woman in New York who asks her nanny to change into a white organic cotton ensemble (provided by the nanny’s employer and washed nightly by the employer’s housekeeper, no doubt in organic washing powder) as soon as she arrives for work in the morning. Her official reason is that she doesn’t want her baby’s skin to touch non-organic fabric but it’s also an easy way to explain why your nanny wears a uniform.”