Louis Bergeron

Luxury Industries in France Publication date : February 1, 1998

For the past three hundred years, luxury industries have constituted anessential part of the French economy, which in this area has acquired anuncontested edge over other national economies. The canons of French taste haveimposed themselves the world over through a variety of luxury items fromSaint-Gobain ice cream, to fine Sevres porcelain and Vuitton bags. Paris remains the capital of international haute couture and French vineyards upholdstandards that are followed the world over. Les Industries du luxe en France is a social history of the industryfrom two perspectives: it analyses luxury enterprises as social institutionsand examines their products in the light of the lifestyle they represent. Louis Bergeron describes the role played by luxury goods in France's economyand society over the past three hundred years. (He sees it as somewhere betweenan art and an industry.) He then studies each one of the industries (goldplate, porcelain, crystal ware, haute couture, perfumes, jewellery, wines,homes, and automobiles), determining their specific weight in the economy andtheir relative state of prosperity, thus holding up a mirror to ourcontemporary lifestyle. Louis Bergeron is a historian and research director at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris.