The Times on the Fall of Luxury

The Times has a serviceable story on the problems in the luxury part of the economy, but I just want to point out the lede.

Gold was raining from above for luxury brands in the good old days of 2007.

Last December, the designer Marc Jacobs held his annual holiday party for 800 guests, including revelers from Vogue, W, and Harper’s Bazaar, in the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. With the theme of Arabian Nights, Mr. Jacobs had arranged for tableaux vivants, contortionists, five open bars, bare-chested women bedecked in gold necklaces, bare-chested men balancing candelabras on their heads and, at one point, a shower of gold glitter poured over the guests.

That decadent scene is like stock footage of the last days of the empire. Check out the picture.

Alas, poor Mr. Jacobs had to cancel this year’s saturnalia, which must have come as a shock to the guest list.

Having covered retail real estate for a few years, I can tell you the luxury folks thought they were immune to downturns. But, um, nope. MasterCard reports luxury spending was down more than a fifth in October.

Hard to tell if that’s because the very rich can’t afford it anymore or if the excess is suddenly gauche.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.