One thing that has emerged as an added value in our fast-paced world is tradition. Bernard Arnault, head of the world’s largest luxury goods group LVMH, which owns not only Louis Vuitton but also the brands Christian Dior and Givenchy, once said: “In the luxury industry, you have to build on tradition.” No wonder that companies like Louis Vuitton, Bollinger, Cartier or Hermès are all names with a long history.
An important thing to know, however, is that even in its early days – in France and especially at Versailles – luxury was primarily a profit-oriented business. Certainly, the many French companies that delight the world with beautiful luxury goods today are in part the product of French culture and of the idea of “petite folie”, or little folly, that is rooted therein. In particular, however, the French luxury industry owes a debt of gratitude to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Controller-General of Finances for Louis XIV.