Rich People Still Buying Expensive Things

Today, the New York Times reminds us that some members of the filthy rich continue to be filthy rich, recession notwithstanding. They're just hiding their spending places where regular people can't see it: in their homes. Designer Clive Christian's extremely high-end wares—think over-the-top chandeliers and the sort of Liberace-inspired designs that would appeal to someone like Celine Dion—are selling better than ever.

So who continues to buy this stuff? People like Thia Breen, the president of Esteé Lauder North America, and a bunch of other important people who are either too embarrassed or too smart to be interviewed—or named—in the piece. (One of the unnamed clients is a fertilizer mogul, though. Blind item!) In any event, Christian's firm reports 2009 is shaping up to be its best year yet: It's already collected $5 million in sales thus far in 2009, far more than the company made in all of 2008.

There are a number of fantastic quotes uttered by Robert Hughes, Christian's head of global business development, bits you should feel free to read aloud in a sneering British accent even though there is no indication he's British. "I don't want to demean what's going on in New York or the world," he tells the paper while "sipping Champagne and munching on peanuts." "But we're not dealing with people whose portfolios have been affected." The company's business manager for its New York showroom says she informed one bargain-seeking customer that discounts "are not part of my vocabulary." As she goes on to explain, interior design is "a much more intimate purchase. You can be as ostentatious as you want in the home." So while it may be 2009 on the outside, you can rest assured that for some New Yorkers, it's still 2006—or 1986, actually—on the inside.

Lavish Purchases Stay Behind Gilded Doors, Designers Say [NYT]