"The dragon means good fortune, power and success"
Torsten Muller-Otvos, chief executive at Rolls-Royce,
January 21, 2012, on the Rolls Royce Phantom taking me to the Peninsula hotel in Shanghai, the driver wishing me proudly a happy New Year of the dragon hands me with a bottle of water and a wet towel a few newspapers to enjoy our 20 minutes ride from the Park Hyatt Shanghai hotel to our designation.
On the China Daily paper , an article by Wen Wang a an impressive picture of a Piaget wrist diamond watch for ladies in the shape of a dragon captures immediately my attention almost forgetting I am in a last generation Rolls Royce.
Mr Wang writes from Beijing : "The Dragon became a main design element in Western luxury brands at the start of 2012, as their wealthy Chinese customers prepare to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.
The Chinese New Year will start on Jan 23, and the Year of the Dragon usually sees a wave of marriages and births, because the dragon is a traditional Chinese symbol of royalty, fortune and power." The driver confides me that himself and his wife have tried to have a baby during this time as it is considered to be extremely auspicious in the life of the child.
Back to the article, " Vertu, a British-based luxury mobile-phone manufacturer that is a division of Nokia OYJ, has launched three phones for the Year of Dragon, complete with hand-engraved dragons - a process that takes around 36 hours for each unit. The handsets cost about 100,000 yuan (15,831 U.S. dollars).
The bag, costing 31,800 yuan and especially designed for the Chinese New Year, is a limited edition of 210 and is only on sale in Asia. Meanwhile, the Swiss luxury watchmaker Piaget SA launched 24 Dragon watch models in Beijing at the end of 2011 with prices ranging from HK dollars 193,000 (25,000 U.S. dollars) to HK dollars 16 million.
"The response to the collection has been very good. We are seeing important sales in Asia and also in our key boutiques in Europe and the US," Dimitri Gouten, president of Piaget Asia Pacific, told the news agency AFP.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, owned by the German automaker BMW AG, launched a line of limited edition "Dragon" Phantoms in August 2011, but the cars were sold out within eight weeks of the launch. The company has said that it is now considering extending production.
"The dragon means good fortune, power and success," Torsten Muller-Otvos, chief executive at Rolls-Royce, told AFP. China overtook the US to become the company's largest market in 2011 and the Chinese market accounts for about one-third of the record 3,538 cars it sold worldwide in 2011.
The Western brands' focus on dragons and Chinese culture is a result of the rapidly growing market for luxury goods in China, especially as consumption in the West declines, according to experts.Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, predicts that China will overtake Japan as the world's top consumer of luxury goods in the Year of the Dragon.
Statistics from the World Luxury Association's China office show that - excluding private planes, yachts and limos - total sales in the nation's luxury market totaled 12.6 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2011.
The dragon though is one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac (We will sepal about this soon in another post) but only in the Zodiac because in the real world it never existed.
China has now more than ever the ' self' confidence' it needed. The iconic " flashing the teeth and wielding the claws" is a perfect description of a China dreaming for ages to fit into. Now it's the time to fear or join China .
Arriving to the prestigious Peninsula noticing a a stunning Valentino store at the entrance I realize that Luxury brands have already made their choice successfully, as if their new that the Year of the Dragon runs loose in other waters as well as a link between heaven and earth.
The Source: China Daily
Photos courtesy Piaget, RollsRoyce, Vertu, Versace, Cartier, Dupont, Courvoisier, Coach