I've spent time in the last week pondering what luxury means to me. With the temperature the way it has been, cashmere figured immediately on my imaginary shopping list, but in reality what I've been hankering for is warmth. And simplicity and integrity, with pleasing aesthetics thrown in for good measure.
My definition of luxury kept coming back to mood-enhancing feelings, as much as objects to acquire, or to aspire to. Wearing silk is luxurious, but it's less about the label than the feeling the fabric evokes. So too with beauty products.
With perhaps the exception of fine fragrances - which are redolent of so much more than just a cosmetic application - much make-up and skincare is simply stuff that does a relatively straightforward job in various degrees of dressed up.
What makes it truly luxurious is if having or using it makes you feel special and better.
Prestige packaging is part of the equation, heritage or rarity can add to the allure, but good honest effectiveness is pretty satisfying too and price isn't the only determinant of that.
Having recently featured gold-class facial creams and with French favourites set aside for Viva's issue next week I've cast about beyond skincare and cosmetics for a few other indulgences and why they suggest luxury to me.
Jo Malone Luxury Candle $840
Truly a statement piece. This massive door-stopper of a thing weighs 2.5kg and will keep you in scented candle-light for 250 hours. Available in four favourite Jo Malone fragrances: Lime Basil & Mandarin, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit and the deliciously decadent Pomegranate Noir. (From Jo Malone Britomart, ph 0800 5067470.)
K Hall's Washed Cotton Linen Water $49
I neither iron my sheets nor have someone else do it for me, which may be why the idea of this lavender and chamomile linen water strikes me as luxurious. I wouldn't thank anyone for giving it to me, though, because I'd immediately feel slovenly or resentful - too lazy to use it, too poor to stay in the sort of hotel where it gets spritzed about. But I do have a house-proud friend who irons her linen ... (From World Beauty stores.)
Hermes Kelly Caleche 100ml eau de toilette $294
Three names, each evocative. The combination of a luxury heritage brand, a princess of Hollywood and Monaco and a fresh fragrance can't really go wrong. The bottle neck is meant to evoke the clasp on the classic Hermes Kelly bag and the youthful fragrance itself mixes leather and floral notes, but without the chypre hit of the original Caleche of 1961. (From Smith & Caughey's Queen St, which also stocks other Hermes fragrances.)
Nellie Tier Night Cream Intensive $59
This little pot of rich moisturising cream is appealingly hand-made here in Auckland. It would suit a mature, dry skin and is an aromatic indulgence thanks to its Rosewood & Myrhh fragrance from essential oils. (Smith & Caughey's and selected gift stores.)
Yves Saint Laurent Nail Lacquer No 3 Orange Afrique $47
Bright enough for the tropics, but if you're at home cheer yourself up with this hot orange nail shade. Or from something more wintry try Taupe Retro, it's the colour of mink. As with many prestige brands, YSL is working hard on this entry level attraction. While there's plenty of good cheaper polish options out there, these are winners with a sophisticated look and a new wider brush that makes application easy. (Brand counters).
Guerlain limited edition Pucci Meteorites $137
Guerlain is best known globally for its back catalogue of unforgettable fragrances, but in its home country of France its skincare and makeup sell just as well. Meteorites are one of its cosmetics cornerstones, with spheres of coloured powder used to illuminate and highlight the complexion with a quick swish of the brush. They come in several shade mixes and, for this season, in a Pucci print compact, making them an extra special addition to the makeup bag. (From Smith & Caughey's.)
K-Pak Moisture Intense Hydrator $31
Dry damaged hair isn't flash to look at and neither is this treatment, but having silky shiny hair is, so that's why this makes the cut. Alternating a regular hair mask or treatment with your conditioner will help with a glossy finish. This one restores moisture to better seal the cuticle. For hair that needs extra help, this can be used with Joico's excellent Deep Penetrating Reconstructor. (For salon and shampoo shop stockists, ph 0800 456 426.)
Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist Deluxe Edition $82
Heavenly hydration, with rose essential oil delivering a gorgeous authentic scent to this mist.
What extras add that touch of luxury to your life? What does luxury mean to you?