LUXURY'S GAUDY TIMES

BACK IN FORM, THE RICH HAVE DECIDED THAT MODEST SPENDING IS BETTER LEFT TO THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT

IF AMERICAN CONSUMERS ARE SO WORried about their jobs and armpit-deep in debt, why do Mont Blanc's five U.S. stores keep running out of their 888 Prince Regent pens, at $5,900 a pop? And why does Chanel have a waiting list for its $2,999 double-breasted tweed dresses for spring, which have yet to reach the stores?

Well, if you have to ask, it's because the rich are back to being different. Following a brief, unsatisfying fling with modesty in the early 1990s, they've renewed their lust for luxe and are making upscale stores the brightest spot on the dowdy U.S. retail...

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