Crisis of Conscience in the Luxury Industry in France {The 5th Sense in the News}

A gift-wrapped France by Fauchon

You could apply several different lenses to interpreting the problems faced by the luxury industry in France in the context of a global downturn, but one that is worth considering is the tilting in favor of a public discourse on values (on the part of the luxury industry players) and the promotion of a more low-key, intimist approach to luxury. It almost all seems to go back to the pre-industrial age in the 18th century when you hear Sonia Rykiel is planning to organize her next spring fashion show in two (no doubt, small) rooms. Mauboussin also preconises less ostentation, more real-world prices, and more reflection on values. Reportedly, the French's core moral values of balance (the Terreur notwithstanding) and dislike for show-off (Versailles notwithstanding), associated with their inherent conservatism will help them prevail, once more.

Rather than trying to keep the machine running by pumping out high-price hand bags, watches and other goods, he (Alain Némarq, the chairman of Mauboussin) proposed the unthinkable: the entire luxury industry should slash prices. "We need a return to reason, decency, discretion, beauty and creativity -- in other words, to true values," Mr. Némarq said.

(Mauboussin has led by example. It has sold its one-carat diamond solitaire "Chance of Love" ring for about $14,500, roughly a third less than its normal price, and its lower-end 0.15-carat diamond ring was priced at $895, Mr. Némarq said.)

Read more in the NYT...

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