by Milena Cvijanovich
Splash! The Neiman-Marcus Fantasy catalogue has arrived once again! In typical Neiman-Marcus style, the gifts proposed this year are truly glamorous. Originally a tongue-in-cheek offering to the fabulously wealthy Texans who patronized the original department store, today’s catalogue is as eagerly awaited as Santa Claus. In browsing through this year’s selections, it warmed my heart to read that a sizeable portion of every gift is donated to a charity or environmentally active organization. Now even the most unique and expensive items money can buy offer a way to « spread the good cheer. » If you are tempted at all by their magnificent array of fantasy gifts, consider adding these luxurious, yet environmentally ethical goodies to your stocking. I have shopped the globe to bring you exquisite examples of sustainable luxury items that will either blend beautifully with the gifts from Neiman-Marcus or stand gracefully on their own. As these sustainable luxury companies emerge, I think you will be taken by the beauty of their products and inspired to add an exotic, yet globally sensitive twist to this year’s yuletide treasures.
The world is moving toward combining luxury with sustainability to create unique and highly desirable products. In the coming months, a new magazine, SLL: Sustainable Luxury Lifestyle, will launch its debut. Due to burst onto the scene in the Spring of 2012, the entire publication will be dedicated to transporting the concept of sustainable luxury to an entirely new level. SLL will tickle your senses with exquisite products and sublime getaways, as well as keep you informed of what is occurring “behind the scenes” through its in-depth interviews with leaders on the sustainable luxury stage. The products, companies and philosophies featured in SLL promise to be truly leading edge, addressing the golden opportunities inherent in combining our growing global consciousness with the quest for ultimate luxury.
- If you absolutely must have the Neiman-Marcus Dancing Fountains integrated into your estate, you will definitely want to create the proper seating from which to enjoy the spectacular water show with friends and family. Consider adorning your aquatic oasis with the inspired furniture designs of Kenneth Cobonpue. Using his many talents to create modern designs from rattan and other natural materials, he has created a line of magnificent outdoor seating that will enhance the most upscale property. Kenneth Cobonpue has mastered the art of combining locally sourced organic materials, ancient handmade production techniques and new technologies to produce designs that have won him international acclaim. His fusion of ancient craftsmanship with modern artistry make his creations truly breath-taking. As you browse his catalogue, you will appreciate the beauty of the dramatic furniture in his exquisite collection.
And to warm yourself on those cooler evenings, wrap yourself in luxury from head to toe with beautiful, soft , cosy items from Animana, a social enterprise located in Patagonia and the Andes. Founded by Adriana Marina, Animana produces the most elegant and luxurious blankets and throws out of baby alpaca, vicuña and merino wool. Her profits help train more artisans, rebuild schools and clinics and teach the local workforce about quality and control and prompt delivery, essential elements for success in the global marketplace.
- I haven’t yet found a sustainable substitute to the Neiman-Marcus Edition Hackercraft Speedboat, but you could consider pairing their magnificent craft with an Infinyte i4 electric 5-person catamaran for those days you would rather coast along at slower speeds. Ideal for the environmentally aware fisherman and boating enthusiast alike, the Infinyte i4 is perfect for calmer waters. Fully charged, the Infinitye i4 will give you 10 hours of cruising pleasure. An onboard battery provides ample backup. The Infinyte i4 is ideal for smaller lakes and secret coves, reminiscent of those made famous by Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in « On Golden Pond. »
If sailing is more you style, order the new eco-friendly Sunreef 75 Sailing Catamaran from Sunreef Yachts. Its sleek, slim design is crafted using a carbon-fibre hull, its reversed bow and stepped hull chins provide maximum performance without sacrificing comfort. Scheduled to set sail this summer, the interior will be luxurious and filled with amenities. Three sleeping cabins, including a master, along with dining for 8 will adorn the interior. The on-board solar panels provide clean energy. Sunreef builds these luxurious catamarans up to 30m.
- If you love to travel the globe, in addition to the educational trip to Stone Barnes Farm offered by Neiman-Marcus, try a more decadent, but no less environmentally friendly stay at the world-renowned Chiva-Som Health Resort. This “Haven of Life” on the Gulf of Thailand is anchored in a holistic philosophy of creating overall wellness through the fusion of body, mind and spirit. The entire resort is carefully designed to minimize its environmental footprint and considers the health and happiness of its employees as well as its clients. Bask in the knowledge that you can spoil yourself to the hilt in this 7-acre oasis, while you contribute to supporting the well-being of the local community and surrounding environment.
- If the Neiman-Marcus Johnny Walker Scotch tasting sounds heavenly but whiskey just isn’t your cup of tea, spend an evening treating your friends to a bottle or two of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, the ultimate in organic luxury wines. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has produced some of world’s most exalted wines – the 1978 Montrachet is the most expensive wine on the market today and its 2005 vintage sells for $16,000 a bottle. The organically cultivated vineyards lie on well drained slopes facing east and south-east. The soil is iron-rich limestone on a base of rock and marl. Five hectares in La Tâche and Grands Échézeaux are cultivated biodynamically, the vines treated with natural preparations according to a strict lunar timetable. The yields are extraordinarily low, just one of the reasons DRC’s wines are some of the most sought-after in the world.
As you make your entrance at this year’s festive holiday celebration, spoil your host with a tin of La Petite Pearle caviar. This exquisite “sustainable caviar” comes from farm-raised sturgeon, taking the pressure off the overfished Caspian, Aral, and Black seas. Purchase of these precious pearls, with their subtly refined taste and texture, helps prevent the extinction of Caspian sturgeon and their wild kindred.
- So many of us want one of the fabulous Neiman-Marcus custom Ferraris, but unfortunately they sold out this year in the first 50 minutes! To avoid feeling left out of all the fun, slip into in a sleek Model S eco-sports sedan from Tesla or the ultra- sporty Evora 414E hybrid from Lotus. These « green machines » are not your typical eco-friendly little putter boxes. Their sleek designs and powerful engines rival the performance of most gas guzzling automobiles on the market today.
In addition to its aerodynamic design, Tesla’s Model S sports sedan has included many environmentally friendly features, such as a dashboard made of banana leaf, and the interior acoustics are worthy of a recording studio. Customers can choose from three battery options with a maximum range of 480 km. The vehicle goes from 0-100km/h in an astonishing 5.6 seconds, without hesitation or one drop of gasoline. The Model S can be recharged from any conventional electrical outlet and can support a fast charge in 45 minutes. The entire car is studded with a myriad of luxury options and, with the touch of a button, the panoramic glass roof lifts up to give its passengers the ultimate « top down » drive experience.
- If you crave a sports model, feast your eyes on the Evora 414E from Lotus. Through its meticulous engineering and unique design, Lotus closes the gap between performance, conscience and style. The Evora 414E will go from 0-60mph in 4 seconds and has a total range of over 450 km. This hybrid is designed to emulate the sound and feel of traditional combustion engines. Integrating virtual design into the hybrid technology gives the driver increased control, while simulating the downshifting experience typical of conventional gearshifts. A signature copper colour scheme is incorporated throughout, from the dramatic seat stripes and instrument panel inserts to the copper callipers nestled behind the wheels. The careful juxtaposition of leather, Alcantara and metal create a magnificently tactile experience for driver and passenger alike. With the Evora 414E, Lotus continues its tradition of producing exciting, efficient, high performance luxury vehicles while contributing to the development of exciting sustainable solutions.
We are on the cusp of a shift in consumer spending. As the current trend continues, we are beginning to see “conspicuous consumption” take an exciting turn toward “conscientious consumption.” It’s exhilarating to witness the birth of a new industry, especially in a marketplace that benefits not only producers and consumers, but also the environment and surrounding communities as well. This year, as you hunt for « the perfect gift » for friends and family, consider adding something truly special, a gift that will not only thrill the recipient (even if it’s yourself), but will also spread a little holiday cheer around the world. ‘Tis the season to share our good fortune and to take a moment to remember how truly blessed we really are.