Why the Rich Are Different--Luxury

Times Staff Writer

As has been said, living well is the best revenge.

Or, to put it another way, nothing exceeds like excess.

And upon us now is a yuppie’s dream come true, materialism in all its glory--the first-ever Luxury Lifestyles Show.

What better location for such a debut than Lotusland, specifically the Los Angeles Convention Center. The show began Thursday and runs through Sunday. Hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and children.

Dessert for the eyes. More is better.

“They were hand-embroidered in Italy and took six months to make,” Linda DeLuca said.

She was referring to one of the gratifications on the premises, a $10,000 set of blue silk sheets, completely laced. To show what a bargain this is, two silk pillowcases and a silk bedspread are tossed in.


“We already sold our pink set,” said DeLuca, manager of Frette California on Rodeo Drive, the branch of a firm whose roots go back to 1860.

You say that’s adequate as far as bed adornments go, but you need something a bit more for a covering. How about a $75,000 fur comforter?

The luxury show has one on display by Chori American Inc. “More than 150 minks went into it,” said Peter Masuda, manager. “Such comforters have been used in Japan for a year, and this is the introduction to America.”

To accommodate such trappings, on hand in the North Hall is a $125,000 bed offered by Ziggurat Inc.

“It is of ebony, inlaid with mother of pearl and abalone shell,” said Jules Buccieri, president. To complete the bedroom, one might want a $75,000 rosewood desk and a $65,000 ebony dresser, accented with knobs of elkhorn.

Those not of the elk ilk can still go first-class, especially when it comes to the sitting room. Richard Eichwald, showroom manager of Design Center Antiques, points out to browsers the merits of a three-piece court set (a sofa and two chairs), Louis XV needlepoint tapestry, price $14,000. To go beneath it, carpeting up to $20,000 is available.


For those who want everything within arm’s reach, Soleil Inc., Interiors has a $16,000 self-contained bedroom--a curved wooden bed, the outside of which has drawers, the inside with night tables, lighting emanating from the top of the headpiece.

But enough of furniture. You can’t wear a bed.

You can, however, wear furs, and many possibly would if they could afford it. The brave new world now makes it possible to join furces and take part in owning 11 furs with a retail value of $100,000. This is the deal from Fur Wardrobe International, which offers what could be described as time-sharing for furs.

“This is a co-op wherein a woman pays $4,000, and gets paper money, sort of like Monopoly money,” said Wally Reid, president. “During the year she can trade this money to wear whatever she chooses for whatever occasion. The cost varies. Naturally, it costs more to use a sable coat on New Year’s Eve than on the Fourth of July.”

Roughly $10 million worth of merchandise and services from 200 exhibitors is on display and for sale. Among the squandering opportunities is a bottle of 1865 Chateau Lafite, at the bargain price of $21,450.

A Good Year

“Or you can buy a case of three for $64,350,” said Francis Ravel, president of Olympic Sales Co. here. “We got them from a French collector. The year 1865 was a good one (although not for the South), and it isn’t easy to find wines of this age.”

Wholesale Caviar

As any Sybarite can attest, man cannot live by toast alone. There must be caviar, and to take care of this, Caviar and Fine Foods Inc. is on hand to offer the beluga type at $295 a pound. That, incidentally, is a wholesale price. Some retailers sell it for $590.


“Beluga, which is a sturgeon that comes from the Caspian Sea and Black Sea, is the most expensive fish egg because it takes the longest to mature (15 to 20 years) and is the largest (the size of number six buckshot),” explained Betsy Uehlein, president of the firm.

There are, of course, imitators, so this luxury is strictly caviar emptor.

Uehlein’s, however, is the real thing. She stores it at 26 to 28 degrees. The 4% salt that is added to the roe at the point of origin keeps the caviar from freezing.

The beat goes on. After all, it was none other than Oliver Wendell Holmes who is given credit for writing: “Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with the necessaries.”

A shark cannot be California Fats without a $37,000 pool table from AAA Billiards in North Hollywood.

“The body of the table is solid oak, the playing surface is of Italian diamond-honed slate, and the rail caps are Carpathian burled elm,” said firm president Bruce Savolainen. “Everything is hand-crafted. We put on more than 40 coats of lacquer.”


Complementing this in your den, of course, will be a cue rack of solid mahogany with beveled mirrors, price $8,500.

Or consider a grandfather clock custom-built by Dick Tarkington of Azusa. “I work in my garage, and the hand carving takes up to four months for each,” he said. “An oak model resembling a 12th-Century cathedral goes for $5,500, a model of cherry wood in Italian Renaissance style sells for $6,200.”

The Point Is Luxury

The point of everything is luxury, and the Robert Zehil Gallery of Beverly Hills is offering a bronze sculpture of a reindeer, a steal at $55,000.

Even the appearance of an affluent life style can be presented, courtesy of Our Secret Jewelers of Beverly Hills. We refer to CZs, the diamond imitations made from cubic zirconia.

“Not only is so-called fake jewelry worn at times by the wealthy in the interest of safety, but it is usually what you see worn on television and in a movie,” explained company vice president David LaCroix.

“We supplied the 30-carat ‘diamond’ ring worn by Donna Reed on ‘Dallas,’ the Carrington diamond on ‘Dynasty,’ ” he said. “What looks like a $2,000 pair of earrings can be had for $42.”


Ah, but in this instance the real thing is the name of the game. Portable briefcase phones, hand-painted coats of arms, elegant kitchens, expensive cosmetics and sports cars, video and audio displays, fashion shows, seminars on travel and investments.

The class comes to order.