The word “luxury” is often mentioned in relation to fashion. But, what, exactly, is luxury? While there might be a number of dictionary definitions for the term, the reality is that the meanings of luxury are constituted socially and vary depending on the context. This reading list offers five case studies that reveal different meanings of luxury that have emerged in specific contexts, past and present, from around the world.

Black and white photo of actress Sono Osato wearing a Chanel jewelry headpiec in the shape of a bow and diamonds dangling down her face

Photograph by George Platt Lynes. Sono Osato wearing Chanel jewelry in Harper’s Bazaar, May 1938. Sourced via the Asian Fashion Archive.