|Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel|
Pink silk crepe chiffon
Circa 1925, France
The Museum at FIT currently has an exhibition from May 23 - November 10, 2007 about Luxury. You can even view the online exhibition for items like this vintage Chanel Dress.
"[the exhibition] covers 250 years of fashion history, and features more than 150 extraordinary garments, accessories, and textiles from the museum's permanent collection of 80,000 objects. The exhibition encompasses aristocratic luxury fashions from the 18th century; contributions from great couturiers such as Chanel, Dior, Worth, and Poiret; and contemporary accessories by Hermès and Lanvin.
Among the garments in the gallery are a brocaded silk dress, circa 1735, a reception dress from the 1880s by Worth, and a 1950 white silk evening gown with gold embroidery by Dior. Accessories include gold Chanel gloves from the estate of Tina Chow, circa 1932, as well as a contemporary Hermès handbag, Louis Vuitton shoes, and a Lanvin necklace.
The exhibition begins with a look at the politics of luxury in the 18th century. Against the traditional idea of luxury as excessive and morally corrupting, there developed a new belief that luxury could be a positive contribution to the wealth of nations. Private vices, such as extravagance and vanity, could be public virtues because they provided work for countless artisans.
Haute couture, the ultimate luxury industry, emerged during the era of high capitalism in the 19th century. Great couturiers, such as Worth and Poiret, became recognized as "artists of luxury." Companies, such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton, also became iconic purveyors of luxury products. The 'new luxury' of today remains a symbol of distinction, but it is no longer restricted to a tiny elite. Marketing luxury to the masses is a multibillion dollar business, and, increasingly, there are many different kinds of luxury. "