Whither Luxury?

For the past several months, luxury businesses have been battening down to cope with a sinking economy. As the consumer pulls back on discretionary spending, luxury executives and retailers are scrambling to redefine themselves. Tiffany & Co. is opening smaller stores. J. Crew has set up shop in a former Tribeca bar and propped it with real liquor bottles along with the bow ties. Times may be tough, but things of great beauty—objects, food, buildings, places, clothing, jewelry—will never lose their appeal. There is a widely accepted theory that in moments of real political, social or economic stress, lipstick sales spike....

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