Getting Your Way: Bespoke Luxury Goods for the Sophisticated Comsumer

 For $75,500, one can enlist the talents of Cartier’s world famous “nose” Mathilde Laurent to create a unique fragrance, giving new meaning to the idea of a “signature scent.”

The sophisticated consumer knows exactly what he or she wants. That is why, across the board, luxury goods and services are shifting away from standardization and towards unique personalization. The ultimate luxury is a high-end product that is one of a kind, a piece that has your fingerprints all over it before you even take it out of the box. In a recession-ridden world where typical extravagances are seen as somehow wrong, when one does invest in life’s finer things, it is important to choose something not massed-produced and of the utmost quality. Since bespoke products are hand-made to the customer’s specifications, they require an attention to detail on the part of the creator that is not found in typical commercial goods.

Many brands have picked up on this phenomenon and are now offering services and products that are engineered according to the buyer’s desires from A to Z. For confirmation that the “made-to-order” marketplace is thriving, one may look at this year’s inauguration of the Bespoke Luxury Goods Fair in Milan, which featured the best custom offerings from a number of industries. If the current proliferation of unique goods is an indication, today’s customers are more demanding than ever. The good news is that with all there is to choose from, it has never been easier to satisfy your every whim. So go ahead, express yourself.


Watchmaker Vacheron Constantin outdoes itself-which is very hard to do-with the launch of the customizable Quai de l’Ile. Seven parts of this amazing timepiece can be personalized (flanks, interlugs, lugs, case, bezel, straps, and engraving), leading to 400 possible configurations. Consumers can also choose to combine metals (titanium, rose gold, and palladium) with different colored dials. With all of the choices, the chance of seeing the exact same watch adorning someone else’s wrist is almost nil. And the most advanced security measures in the history of haute horology, the timepiece is entirely anti-counterfeit. To aid in the creation of the timepieces, 18 Vacheron Constantin showrooms will have a Watch Configutor, a touch-screen, drag-and-drop system that walks customers through the necessary selections. The watch is then custom-made and delivered in 10 to 12 weeks.


Cars and motorcycles long have been recipients of the custom treatment, although the majority of the outfitting takes place in garages after the initial delivery. BMW Motorrad recently introduced the BMW Custom Concept motorcycles, which brings the personalization aspect in-house. The BCC design study is conceived as a fully customizable ride. The rider chooses the exhaust system (shotgun-low or scrambler), type of seat (an aluminum perch seat, minimal modern saddle, or a simple two-man seat), and headlights (projector lighting or a classic circular headlamp). The paint finishes for the fuel tanks and engine are up to the rider as well, as are a number of other details. According to BMW, the BCC is the only bike of its kind in that it is customizable from start to finish.


Of all the things that can be customized, lingerie seems like a natural choice. It’s already a very personal item so it only makes sense that ladies would want their finest unmentionables crafted exactly to their measurements. Lingerie Couture from Carine Gilson redefines intimate wear. Made with the finest Lyon silk, airy Chantilly lace, a broad range of cheeky colors, the custom bras, panties, strings, and negligees are all hand stitched in the Brussels workshop.


Crystal maker Baccarat was ahead of the bespoke trend by nearly two centuries. The company received its first commission in 1823 from the king of France, and this marked the start of a long-standing tradition of royals relying on the company for custom products. Some highlights of the company’s unique creations include a one-ton chandelier built for an Indian maharajah and a 230-light chandelier to commemorate Baccarat’s 230th anniversary. And at the Baccarat Museum in Paris, there is a dining room fashioned almost entirely out of crystal-the ultimate custom fitting!


For $75,500, one can enlist the talents of Cartier’s world famous “nose” Mathilde Laurent to create a unique fragrance, giving new meaning to the idea of a “signature scent.” The perfume comes in two 5-ounce Baccarat flasks with three spray bottles and two refills, providing enough perfume for three to five years.

The smaller-and very aptly named-perfume company l’Artisan will also custom blend fragrances. In 2005, they teamed up with fragrance boutique Aedes de Venustas to create a special scent for the independent retailer. Bertrand Duchaufour, the lead parfumier, worked closely with the store’s owners to come up with the perfect scent, which is now available as an eau de parfum and eau de toilette, and also as a candle.


Rivaled only by shoes, handbags hold a special place in the sartorial milieu. “It bags” are practically fetish objects complete with outlandish names, limited edition runs, and waiting lists. As with perfumes, Cartier takes the personal connection to one’s bag to the next level. The Marcello line allows clients the opportunity to choose from a number of colors, leathers, linings, and finishes to create a custom handbag that is made specially in its European workshops.