Selfridge & Co is the U.K.'s pre-eminent high-fashion retailer in the U.K.
For several years, it has sought to enrich cultural life by creating projects for its point-of-sale and direct marketing, commissioning or presenting work by visual artists, photographers, fashion designers and musicians.
Some of the most powerful, cutting-edge creativity today is linked to designing the social: creating places, experiences, services and technologies that celebrate, involve and empower people.
Think of microfinance, alternative local currencies like BerkShares, the recommender technologies of internet and mobile applications like Dopplr and Brightkite, the user-generation of video content sites like You Tube and Chictopia and the culture of sharing, not selling that drives online networking.
Then we live in an age when the President of the United States was once a community worker, rather than an oil baron; when celebrities like Jamie Oliver are admired for their social work, not just skill in the kitchen; when culture is created by a crowd swarming over a widget or a nation voting on X-Factor, not a loner locked in a room in West Hampstead or Manhattan or a late-might worker in the Academy of Fine Arts.
Are there ways in which Palaces of Miu Miu like Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman or Barneys - emporia that help set the tone and beat of consumer life - might celebrate or reflect these new social values?
Take a look around and high fashion seems to be taking on some of the geist.
There's the direct populism of the likes of Star Wars-influenced, straight-to-Target designs of Kate and Laura Mulleavy at Rodarte.
There are the High Priests of the industry like the Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent and his new YSL Manifesto that appear to be not just positioning themselves but also seeing themselves as having a role in a more open - and open source - economy.
Take Stefano Pilati of YSL's comment in last week's London Financial Times:
If they take my manifesto, go to a vintage store somewhere and are inspired to make their own outfit, I think that's great. Then we've helped them dream a new idea of themselves. Isn't that the point?
And then there are stray eccentricities such as luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton commissioning artist Jeremy Deller to create a mobile vegetable garden for the opening of a new branch in the Westfield shopping mall in London.
You get the feeling that earlier debates on the role of luxury in an age of austerity - like the brilliant talk at the Hammer Museum back in February on Conscientious Consumption led by Sally Singer of Vogue - might be filtering through in to a new paradigm.
Let's not run away with ourselves since fashion and ethics remains a mix of oil and water when high street shops are filled with a confused mash of real and faux fur and cash-tills ring with sweatshop wages.
But how might these places - places that win vast attention and have an important influence - express the achievement and hope of a more social nation and inspire shoppers and Bobo-babes to express and enjoy a new, socially-minded form of luxe?