Almost a month ago I shared a surprise Christmas present that arrived in the mail featuring

“5 small gifts from the ages to maybe inspire a new piece of your jewelry or just to hold in your hand as a reminder of our time and place in the ongoing history of this earth.”

I was so touched by my friend’s gesture that it inspired a new features section on Lady Holiday. Five Found Relics offers a handful of curiosities, discovered inspirations and exquisite little pleasures of the moment.

In honor of my thoughtful friend, this debut story offers five small gifts in return. When defining luxury—and there’s so many directions one could go with this—I think the common denominator among each case, aside from impeccable quality, is the ability to make the luxury in question uniquely yours. Commissioning a master craftsman to create a bespoke masterpiece specifically for you is the epitome, if not the very birth, of luxury.

From custom homes (I’ve had the pleasure of viewing some breathtaking one-of-a-kind residences recently, thanks to our recent partnership with HÔM Sotheby’s Realty) to bespoke slippers, or filling out a questionnaire of preferences before arriving at a private island getaway in Fiji, the essence of luxury is unreserved expression.

Defining luxury…

1. The house of Vuitton has been handcrafting fine custom trunks since the 19th century. Each one is designed specifically for its owner, reflecting their distinctive style and purpose—like Karl Lagerfeld’s commissioned LV iPod trunk. I love how this video takes us into the workshop, reminding us of Louis Vuitton’s unwavering dedication to handcrafted luxury goods.

Defining luxury with Thomas Erber's Le Cabinet de Curiosités2. A painstakingly hip, modern interpretation of luxury, Thomas Erber’s Le Cabinet de Curiosités has extended till the end of January and is now online, shipping worldwide. So, if you didn’t make it to this annual, traveling exhibition (2013’s exhibit was held at the Maison Kitsuné New York Boutique and The Avant/Garde Diaries Project Space
 in New York during the month of December), you still have a couple of weeks to snag one of the curated limited edition specialties from Erber’s line-up of cutting edge designers.

Traveling the world, in search of eye-catching fashion, jewelry, watchmaking, design, art, travel, music, literature and eroticism, Erber’s dynamic orchestration of CDC is driven by his desire to:

  • “Create an international network of designers, artists and brands who, by their cutting-edge savoir-faire and insight, seek to redefine our dangerously standardized society.
  • Redefine luxury by offering exclusive pieces, in single or very limited edition, cultural news and startling adventures to all those following his wanderings and current projects,
  • Engage curious people first and foremost, of all nationalities, of all ages and for whom luxury is not tied to a price but rather to a story, a lifestyle and a certain savoir-faire.”

Defining luxury with Louis Sullivan Guaranty Building doorknobs

3. Being in the acrylic business, over the years my Mr. and his father have worked alongside museums and fine artists to frame and preserve a wide variety of objets d’art. From Egyptian mummies and Japanese kimonos to Takashi’s L.A. museum exhibit and even Louis Vuitton’s famed trunks, they’ve perfected the art of presentation.

Guaranty Building, Louis SullivanRecently, a client of my father-in-law’s brought him these original Louis Sullivan doorknobs. We have since learned (from my Five Found Relics friend, no less!) that they once guarded the doors of the Guaranty (now the Prudential) Building in Buffalo, NY (1896). Regarded as one of America’s most important architects of the 19th century, Sullivan (who mentored Frank Lloyd Wright) was considered the “Father of the Skyscraper.” As these doorknobs reveal, the Prudential Building (an early skyscraper of our time and U.S. National Historic Landmark) is an ornamental revelry, featuring a facade of embellished terra cotta blocks. These amazing works of architectural history are destined to be encapsulated and preserved in a gorgeous Lucite frame.

Defining luxury with By Kilian Bespoke Perfume

4. A powerful force, invisible to the eye, scent has the ability to recall memories, evoke moods, create context and it’s inherently personal. Kilian Hennessy (of the cognac empire) offers By Kilian Bespoke—An experience that takes clients directly to the perfumer, who’ll craft a unique fragrance based on one’s olfactory memories. The blended concoction is poured into two 500 mL flacons, embellished with personalized engraved plaques, and presented in his signature black lacquered wood box with lock and key. The box comes outfitted with six iconic KILIAN fragrances and three travel sprays per client’s choice. Price upon request,

Defining luxury with Vogue, Oyster jewelry

5. Global fashion authority, Vogue, serves up some visual inspiration for my day: The world is your oyster. What is luxury to you? Share with me in the comments!