Two weeks ago I was a guest at the International Luxury Conference in Cape Town, organised by media company Condé Nast, which publishes titles like Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and GQ. The gig got buzz, not least because of its almost R80,000 tickets. The annual two-day event flits from one global hot spot to the next, proffering insights into the world of expensive things and rich people — what they’re buying, where they’re travelling, what the future of the market is. Mostly, it seemed from my nonbillionaire vantage point that it offered a ridiculously pricey networking opportunity.

Veiled under the designer guise of swish speakers, a burly security detail whispering into each other’s ears and excellent conference food (an oxymoron, but not in this case), it gave a glimmer of access to big bling ballers like the top bosses at Gucci and Tiffany. This year, the talk revolved around Africa being it — the sartorial Eye of Sauron was definitely on us. Predictably, a lot of ...

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