I'm not a teacher, but the phrase "at so many removes" might be reworded "so far away", "put so far beyond reach". If "Elegance" were not quite so far away, mybe it could be retrieved or recoverd. Now, though, not only is retrieval not possible, it is hard to even imagine what "Elegance" is.
I would illustrate this by the memory of a favourite meal from decades ago. The memory of that meal, its flavours and aromas, is now so faint that, more than being merely gone without prospect of return, it's very hard even to imagine what the meal was like.