There’s a sumptuously fabulous scene in the original Dynasty between Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) and Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll). As the two fierce icons meet over a glass of Champagne, expert bougie shade is tossed. Fur is worn. So are jewels. Hairspray is evident. It sums up ’80s excess like nothing else. “It’s burned,” complains Deveraux, sipping the Champagne handed to her by Colby. “This Champagne was obviously frozen in the bottle at some point.” “The caviar, I trust, is not burned,” slings Colby. “I really wouldn’t know, this is osetrova, I prefer Petrossian beluga,” purrs Deveraux. The exchange is not only iconic and typical of the affluent, capitalist, luxuriant-centred drama, but a comment on the lifestyles of the wealthy elite in the ’80s and ’90s.
Back then, and up until a few years ago, signs of wealth included designer threads, “It” bags, luxurious holidays, fancy cars and how much “stuff” you owned. Enter the rise of the internet celebrity where, with the right number of clicks, likes and influence, literally anyone can become famous or join the millionaire’s club. Combine that with a new wave of brand accessibility (particularly luxury fashion’s streetwear trend), technology readily available to the middle class, and instantly, tell-tale definers of the elite are no longer, well, special. So, what defines it now? Those things that money can’t buy: culture, privacy, time, responsibility, self-improvement, global awareness and curated happiness. Less than a decade ago, the wealthy started buying organic food, designing grand eco-homes and indulging in private Pilates classes. Flash forward to now and they’re boasting home-grown food, founding globally-conscious companies, training for ultra-marathons and readying their body for space travel. And they’re doing it all under the radar.
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