We’re so fancy

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Photo: Michèle Pauty

Can you even define luxury? Is it the freedom to enjoy the finer things in life? Does luxury only mean money? Or is true luxury the comfort of having time to spare?

In strictly monetary terms, the luxury market has endured the worst of times.
When commerce in necessities nosedives, luxury sales barely ebb in a recession. Does this mean that the “real” world and the luxury world exist in parallel? Perhaps. But in Vienna, the differences are in scale. This city thrives on the little luxuries. In several stories in this issue, we found that people are no longer looking for material goods to feel wealthy. We’re seeking experiences, meaningful encounters, storied items that do more than just look pretty or cost a handful. So what is our luxury?

Vienna’s coffee house culture, Gemütlichkeit, wine taverns, the Vienna Circle of philosophers, the Imperial legacy, and Wiener Lieder are all based on reveling in the extraneous, relishing beauty and flavor and enjoying the moment. Even without trying, we Viennese (especially those who have chosen to be) are pros at luxury.

We still geeked out and compiled some Quotes Stats & Numbers (p12) on luxury – native and global. We had a Melange with Norbert Kettner, from the Vienna Tourist Board and spoke about “culturally sensitive tourism.” Andrew Standen-Raz -recounts how Vienna provides the basest of luxuries: a haven for the homeless in his Op-Ed.  Our Cover Story looks into developments in the 1st district, getting insider insights from a seventh-generation craftsman, Markus Scheer, who’s out to save his industry. But there are plenty of authorities on the subject and we’ve profiled four, from Vienna’s favorite bespoke tailor to the owner of the Hotel Sacher.

But not every industry has a legacy to back it up. In our Business story, we see that some have marketed their brands to fit with international expectations of “Made in Vienna.” But who’s to say whether things made long ago are still valuable, or just junk? We asked an expert from the Dorotheum How to Buy Antiques. What culture do the concepts of luxury and Vienna bring to mind? If you answered Russians, you’re not alone. In our International story, we looked into the reality behind the prejudice.

The city is teeming with glitz and glamour this winter, so make sure to get your fill in our City Life pages (pp40-55). We took over the Fürsten-suite of the Hotel Imperial to don some fancy threads and revel in everyday luxuries. Ali Rabbani has also selected some of his Favorite Things as inspiration for holiday gift giving. In preparation for Silvester,we give you the lowdown on Austria’s native bubbly, sekt (p69).

So take the time, get dressed up, live a little! You may find it suits you and before you know it you’ll realize you live a life of luxury. But don’t let it get to your head, tip your waiters and

don’t be a stranger,

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