If you happen to be in Paris this month, one of the most luxurious things you can buy is not a new bag or a perfume, but a day of pilates, skin treatments and rest and relaxation along the Seine. For a starting rate of €670 (736), guests can book a treatment aboard the Dior Spa Cruise. The French luxury brand opened the spa along the Seine during Couture Week and will offer the experience until July 14.
Dior’s yacht-turned-spa promises guests a chance to detox, restore balance and freshen up their skin all the while surrounded by Dior’s signature Toile de Jouy and Dior-branded skincare products.
However, the Dior cruise is not just another example of luxury labels expanding their brand to lifestyle sectors. It’s also indicative of the way in which the idea of luxury itself is no longer just about looking a certain way, or acquiring certain products, but something far more intangible: feeling good. In other words, wellness — a broad term which has come to encompass everything from fitness and exercise to sleep and gut health.
“Wellness is defined as anything that contributes to a better-quality life — and this doesn’t necessarily refer to conventional healthy practices,” says Olivia Houghton, deputy creative foresight editor and beauty and wellness lead at trend forecaster The Future Laboratory, which recently published a report on wellness and longevity in the beauty sector. “Everyone has a different idea of what healthy means to them, particularly when it comes to mental, emotional, and social health.”
In China, the wellness and health (both mental and physical) lifestyle trend has taken off.
For instance, Aesop’s Shanghai flagship became a concept library for the brand’s Women’s Day activation (with queues around the block); Fendi jumped on the cafe collab bandwagon with Heytea in May; Louis Vuitton recently opened a bookstore in Shanghai; and Margiela’s cafes are doing well in the country.
According to Houghton, the global wellness economy is forecast to reach 6 trillion this year. And wellness has become crucial to the beauty world as the concept of “inside-out beauty” has taken off, she adds.
“This is everything from how poor gut health can cause skin conditions, to how poor mental wellbeing contributes to visible aging,” says Houghton.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop helped usher wellness into a more high-end space when it launched in 2008. And wellness has only grown in the luxury sector since.
When Montreal ecommerce platform Ssense launched a beauty section at the end of 2020, it labeled its beauty section “self-care,” which includes products from vibrators, candles and gua sha massagers alongside traditional beauty products, like moisturizers and fragrances.
Luxury retailer Moda Operandi launched a beauty sector this January that includes mood-boosting perfumes from Vyrao as well as immersive experiences like a staycation at Remedy Place, the “social wellness club” that opened in New York City last fall.
While luxury is still often associated with the likes of leather goods and high-end watches, at its core, luxury sells exclusivity. Today, some of the most exclusive commodities are not just tangible products but good sleep, health, sex and vacations, says Jennifer G. Sullivan, beauty journalist and co-host of the Fat Mascara podcast.
“That's kind of the ultimate luxury because it involves time, which is something that I think we don't have enough of,” she says.
While the Dior Spa cruise, as well as the Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat the brand opened at Shanghai’s IFC Mall last year, offer fitness routines and “detox” services, they don’t market themselves as health care. But luxury is creeping more and more into the health and wellness sector; last year, Gucci partnered with Finnish brand Oura to create a Gucci ring that tracks sleep and other health factors, while brands like Tend and Selahatin have turned a trip to the dentist and oral hygiene into luxury experiences.
With luxury brands dipping their toes into the likes of bookstores and cafes, maybe a true health retreat isn’t so far off. Hermès has already applied its branding to a 23,614 (€21,500) bicycle, Tiffany & Co. to a 575 basketball, while Loro Piana has used its signature knits to create high-end yoga gear like 2,150 meditation carpet and a 2,000 cashmere-covered gym ball (whether or not anyone would take a bicycle that costs more than a car for a spin is another matter). Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy are investing not merely in feeling rested, but attempting to reduce their biological age through longevity hacks like upping their blood-oxygen levels.
“I'm not saying this would happen, but can't you see the doctor's office that's like the Chanel doctor office?” says Sullivan. “Like it’s as pleasing as going to one of their gorgeous stores to sit and wait for your doctor.”