The sociology of sofas


There is a men’s clothing brand called Zilli that makes what may be the world’s most expensive sweater. In the finest cashmere and 24-carat gold thread, it retails at £4,400. But what makes it ridiculously luxurious, as opposed to just ridiculous, is the invisibility of its value. Apart from a gold Zilli logo on the back below the neckline, it looks for all the world like a beige cashmere sweater.

Gold, though, is rarely so subtle. Something that came to mind when Donald Trump’s Boeing 727 was sold a month ago. The plane, a 1968 model that has made 29,000 landings, has a desirable interior – if you’re less bullish about your decor than your dealing, that is. It’s all ivory damask upholstery, mirror-polished rosewood veneer and crystal lamp bases. And gold-plated basins. Imagine spitting your mouthwash into them in the morning with a mile-high hangover.

Commentators mostly pondered whether Trump was upgrading or downsizing. But it’s obvious. This plane is like a smart fiftysomething partner perfectly turned out in Oscar de la Renta. And a man of Trump’s age and wealth would always feel the need to trade that in for a sassier younger model.