FROM THE EDITOR
‘What is luxury to you?” I’ve been asking my friends this month. “Eating lunch without being interrupted,” said Catherine, a primary school teacher who, I imagine, usually grabs mouthfuls of sandwich between attending to kids’ dramas. I thought, at first, that this seemed like an extremely modest definition of luxury, but then my busy-busy young doctor friend Kimberly told me she treats herself by sitting on the couch while she cleans her teeth.
And it was the same for most of the people I talked to. Their luxuries were little moments that delivered a long-overdue dose of something scarce in their life. “Sleep,” said my friends with babies. “Sun, sun, sun,” said my friend Crystal on a bleak and rainy day.
“A full belly and a sleeping bag after a wet day’s tramping,” said my husband Nick.
For a magazine editor wanting to fill pages of a luxury-themed issue with ideas and images that scream indulgence and ease, this was not a lot of help. “What about stuff?” I asked my friends. “What about truly luxurious things?”
“Clean sheets!” said a frighteningly large number. “Fluffy towels,” said my niece Hazel. “Feta-stuffed bell peppers and avocado in a salad,” said my daughter Kate.
Which are things, yes, but small regular-pleasure things: not the luscious gleaming gold and jewel-coloured objects of desire and the sumptuous layers of bedding that our stylists had in mind when they put together the luxe-themed pages in this issue (pages 46 and 145).
Not one person went really BIG with their luxuries. No one said: “Those gorgeous $2200 gilded brass palm lights from Kartell,” (see page 49) or even anything remotely like that.
Which is, of course, a sign of the times: the global zeitgeist specifies a pared-down life, and my friends are sensitive, well-meaning souls with a distaste for excessive consumption.
But I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here. The fact remains that beautiful wellcrafted things (and yes, they often cost heaps) can deliver real, repeated moments of joy. The lovely down quilt on my bed (eye-wateringly expensive when I bought it) may not give me the same burst of wellbeing that a good night’s sleep does an exhausted parent – but every single night as it settles, light and warm, over my body, I have a moment of pure toe-curling pleasure. That’s luxury too.
Just sometimes, I reckon, it’s healthy to splash out on something really special: to enjoy a big treat as well as the little, daily ones. You could, for example – just saying, Kimberly – shout yourself a soul-warming and eye-pleasing, spicered velvet sofa like the one of page 46 to sit on while you clean your teeth. Now, that would be real luxury.