Most would dream of unwrapping a Loewe Gate bag or a Diptyqye candle set on Christmas Day, but for some super-rich shoppers, these are mere stocking fillers. This year, Net-a-Porter brought back its fantasy gift packages, which includes a £70,000 party wardrobe, a shoe subscription for £10,000 and a monthly handbag subscription for £15,000. Some of these gifts might cost more than the average salary in the UK (which is £27,600), but they are more than a fantasy for some.
Spending £70,000 on a party wardrobe might sound ludicrous, but this is more commonplace than you might imagine. "Personal shoppers will run around Bond Street and do that, but we deal with the creation of style and of a look," Daniel Johnson, founder of his own luxury personal stylist company told me last December. "We sell tonnes of gift vouchers over Christmas that do that—you can send your partner to us to be styled or sons or daughters. We will do a full wardrobe—having an initial consultation, taking measurements and asking questions to find out everything we need to know about them to understand their motivations and what they want to achieve. We do a first shop where we turn up at their house with everything to get them started—this first shop tends to be about £10,000, and then it's £10 to £13,000 for every shop after that."
Johnson tells me of one couple that gifted each other a new full wardrobe—the man's cost £64,000 and the woman's about £70,00 before they even started on handbags. One Christmas gift styling session he worked on involved a client "taking his wife to Lake Como or Milan and then visiting a private castle where there is a design team in a turret—you dine there and meet the head designer and totally design your own wardrobe with him." In this castle, you build a full bespoke wardrobe, designing everything from coats to T-shirts, which Johnson estimates would cost in the region of half a million pounds. "The most expensive wardrobe I've ever seen was valued at £2.5 million," he tells me. "And that was a man's wardrobe."
Johnson and his team will often go to extra-special lengths to secure the perfect Christmas gift" "I got a phone call from a man whose wife had seen a Gucci dress and could only find it in Munich, so he wanted me to fly by private jet to Munich to buy it. But we were able to find the dress in London, so within three hours of the phone call she was wearing the dress for £5000."
But despite these extravagant stories, Johnson says that how the super-rich spend money is not as wild and frivolous as you might think. "We deal with people who have a significant amount but don't want to show it off," he says. "They don't just throw it away. They have often worked up from nothing and so are not stupid with their money, and every purchase is considered. It's not just an endless stream of cash."
They are not asking for logos, bling or anything too flashy, as he explains that his customers value craftsmanship over items that are purposefully ostentatious. He cites one client as an example of this shopping philosophy. "He buys handmade shirts for £700 each, and the brand stopped making the fabric he likes, so I sent the fabric to a lab and made 200 meters of fabric and re-created the shirts for him. To produce the fabric was £3750, and it cost about £37,000 to make the shirts to fill his wardrobe (which is 120 shirts)."
The overriding theme of luxury gifting is exclusivity, as his colleague, Annie, who specialises in womenswear, tells me that her job is usually to "access something they didn't think was possible." The main trend is to give things that are bespoke or hard to obtain, and often Annie will work with designers to re-create something that is no longer in production. "My clients love the idea that they'll go to a party and no one else will have it."
Want to see what you can buy with a £100,000 budget? Click through our gallery to see some of the wildest fantasy gifts.
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Opening Image: Rex