The New Luxury: Modern Patronage

By Regina Connell.

A word popped up in my consciousness as I was reading a review of the recent exhibit called What is Luxury? at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


the Victoria and Albert Museum, image courtesy of the V&A's website

the Victoria and Albert Museum, image courtesy of the V&A’s website

It’s a word I haven’t heard in a long while. Hopelessly old fashioned, it smacks of elitism, class, and—in political circles—cronyism, “favors” and general corruption. And the “p” word has even been applied to the “relationship” between dancers and their “patrons.”

In the realm of art and culture, it conjures up images of that rich cigar-puffer badgered (often by a wife) into agreeing to fund the work of some obscure, flat-out-broke artist/watchmaker/musician in return for which he got bragging rights if the artist’s star rose, and first pick of the output, whatever happened.

What would Degas say?

What would Degas say?

Fast forward to places like New York today—the same thing goes on: wealthy patrons (now  often women) support the work of arts institutions. But such is the whiff of elitism to the word that the most powerful patrons of the day, corporations, now refer to their support as sponsorships, corporate “giving,” or even “collaborations.”


Despite—or perhaps because of—all the heavy freight that “patronage” carries, it has a certain resonance for me. Patrons patronize (ah, the terrible connotations there), not for just the pure exchange of value, but as a measure of material and emotional/spiritual support. We are being patrons when we buy something from a maker, designer, or brand. We are patrons when we go to a store or restaurants on a more or less consistent basis…

For all the rest and more on our version of the new luxury, wander on over to AltLuxe.


What is New Luxury:

This entry was posted in Box 1, COLLECTING, IDEAS, THE NEW LUXURY, THE RITUALS. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.