Despite the economic slowdown, the devaluation of the yuan and all the problems currently facing China, the Asian giant continues to account for 30% of luxury goods sales in the world.
Left: Tod’s Monkey Charm
Right: Piaget Watch
For that reason, the luxury labels pay particular attention to the consumers of the world’s most populous country. This has never been more evident than on the eve of the Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival.
The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar (not the solar calendar), so the date varies. In 2016—the year 4714 will begin on February 8. According to the Chinese horoscope, that day the green wooden goat (the symbol that ruled the year 2015) will give way to the fiery red monkey, whose image is already popping up on all types of motifs from luxury retailers.
It is not the first time Asian iconography appears in the collections of the Spanish porcelain firm Lladró. This year, the company has presented a selection of handmade pieces showing different versions of the monkey, the ninth of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The Monkey represents cheerfulness, intelligence, security and curiosity. Lladró— founded in 1953—had already introduced the figure of the animal in the past, creating pieces like Curiosity (a monkey on top of a turquoise stone), for the project Re-Cyclos by Committee, and the Vase Monkeys within a collection dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism.
Since the Chinese claim that the Year of the Fire Monkey will involve many changes, the international hotel chain Mandarin Oriental has devised a new experience in their spas, designed to help those who try it to alight the right balance of body and mind.
Thus, guests are greeted with a set of hot or cold towels soaked with orange juice or tangerine oil, which symbolize luck. Next, they are offered a welcome infusion of Chinese honey and berries, which helps relieve stress and leads to sleep.
Customers will also receive an assortment of sweets and tangerines sweetened with coconut and ginger to celebrate the festivities in true Chinese style. According to a spokesman for Mandarin Oriental, this treatment —which lasts one hour and fifty minutes— helps to ward off negative energy and stimulates the body’s natural defenses.
The unique healing starts with a ritual of rose oil, followed by a body scrub that incorporates chrysanthemum flowers to relieve stress.
After a hot shower with grapefruit water (usually used to eradicate negative feelings), a cure of sonorous bowls is applied. The cavity is placed on the abdomen, and the sound stimulates the body’s energy channels.
The body massage that follows combines the effects of oriental meridian stimulation with a mixture of ylang-ylang, rose and calming chamomile oils to promote joy and emotional release.
Finally, guests will sip on sweet plum tea, and before they leave, they will receive a traditional Chinese lucky package which includes a second treatment to enjoy throughout the new year. This experience can be reserved until the end of the Chinese year, January 17, 2017.
Sometimes the celebration of the Year of the Monkey is just a matter of details, like the charm or pendant in metal and leather in the shape of a monkey, offered by Italian company Tod’s in their China stores and on its website, or the Gucci key ring decorated with small beads which sell for € 250 ($ 270).
Left: Gucci Charm
Right: Ulysse Nardin Watch
This year the Swiss watch manufacturers have also turned to the Chinese New Year celebrations. For example, Ulysse Nardin launched a new model of its Classico collection inspired by the world of comics. Its sphere reflects the agile and lively mind of the monkey, jumping among the leaves of a palm tree. The realistic scene is achieved with the technique of champlevé enamel. This edition is limited to 88 pieces in 18K red gold and incorporates a UN-815 automatic movement.
Cartier, meanwhile, reminds its customers that among its watches there is a mechanical model of the Ballon Bleu family in white gold with automatic winding. It is decorated with an enamel monkey, and the white gold case boasts 126 diamonds. The yellow gold dial is embellished with another 225 diamonds.
Vacheron Constantin, Piaget and Chopard have also created models decorated with the image of a monkey. ■