Luxury in the new age will mean reuse, recycle, repurpose
The global pandemic has raised overwhelming existential issues – issues around inequality, race, and the environment. The crisis has also offered an opportunity to rethink so much of what had become trapped in the echoes of the past. One area desperately in need of reviewing is the glittery world of luxury. For far too long this lucrative consumer landscape has been swamped by the obvious: stuff, and lots and lots of unimaginative stuff containing what has long been seen as representative of luxury but no longer chimes with the time leaving a new generation disconnected to the discourse.
Many brands are advocating change and are promoting the idea of considerate luxury. ‘Our patrons are interrogating further the value of items before they bring these into their lives,’ says Alex Innes. As head of the very pinnacle of luxury design at the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild division, where cars are almost custom-built for clients, he is in a position to observe his consumers’ behaviour. He says they want to know the product’s provenance and be part of the creative process. Innes is calling out for a new dawn of ‘post-opulence’.
A powerful ethical line is guiding this future luxury, and this is steered by the consumer’s growing concern for the environment. For many, the pandemic has heightened the reality of a looming climate crisis and the urgency to take action now – with many forward-thinking brands actively investing in authentic ecological luxury.
The Phantom by Lunaz is a healthy expression of this new wave of considerate opulence. This is the first car in a series of classic Rolls-Royces, re-engineered to run on clean-powered electricity and restored to maintain the authentic feel of the original cars. Hand-built at the Silverstone site in the UK, only 30 will be commissioned, while the collection will include the 1961 Phantom V (John Lennon’s chosen model) and Silver Cloud.
The Lunaz model is the opposite of hyper-consumption. Founded in 2018, the brand’s assignment is to breathe new life into some of automotive history’s most classic and exotic creations so as to be desirable for consumers now and in the future. The value is in the product’s storied past. The Lunaz portfolio includes electrified and restored classic Jaguars and Bentleys. ‘We are answering the need to marry beautiful classic design with the usability, reliability, and sustainability of an electric powertrain,’ says company founder David Lorenz. ‘We preserve the past by embracing the future, making the most beautiful cars in history a relevant proposition.’
Elsewhere, Icon 4×4 has been exploring the reuse theme for a number of years. The Los Angeles-based brand has a unique approach to retro-modernism, making a curious hybrid of vintage and modern. Its custom-built Derelict and Reformer cars are all about preserving elements of history and working them into modern living. The cars are rebuilt with modern drivetrains, fitted with the latest technology, and engineered to the highest standard. Yet the finished products have exposed period patina, preserved faded paint, and distressed interiors. These unique cars are a brilliant fusion of industrial design, architecture, craft, and fashion.
Lead designer Jonathan Ward is passionate about preserving the original design as a way of continuing the vehicle’s narrative. ‘So many modifications are done without a holistic approach,’ says Ward, who co-founded the brand with his wife Jamie in 2007. Their team source unique materials, surface coatings, and components from various industries. ‘Our challenge is to integrate them so that they flow in a chorus and all are justified in their placement and utility.’
A global pandemic on this scale is a wake-up call for a much-needed paradigm shift. And, since the luxury world often leads consumer trends, the crisis has given brands the opportunity to imagine an altogether better and more sustainable consumer culture.
Images: Rolls-Royce Phantom V by Lunaz © Lunaz; new Rolls-Royce Ghost © Leigh Banks; inside the Phantom V by Lunaz © Lunaz; Icon Derelict collection with exposed period patina © Icon, Rolls-Royce Phantom V by Lunaz © Lunaz.
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