a lesson on luxury by LVMH USA CEO Renaud Dutreil

What is so great and different about French education?  What do you hope for and expect when you enroll your kids in the Lycee Francais de New York (LFNY)? Well, at the very least you expect your children to be exposed to  leaders in their field who can talk about something contemporary while  giving the subject an historical and a philosophical twist.  This morning, in the auditorium of the LFNY, we had a good taste of superior education – and superior intelligence- with Renaud Dutreil’s talk on Luxury.  To explain luxury today the president of LVMH USA, and former minister of France , reminded us of the  tombs  of ancient civilizations where luxury items were buried with their owners –   travel kits certainly, even if not quite LouisVuitton malles!  According to Dutreil,  a definition for luxury would be those  priceless  possessions you would like to take to Heaven with you ( Heaven only I guess; the flames of Hell might be hard on  those chiffon dresses). So much for those who damn luxury items luxury items as so much ephemera! In fact they were for eterenity!

Well, the definition of luxury has slightly changed over the centuries and Dutreil  stressed the reality of luxury today: a market open to many  (are the modern malls the  marbles castles of yesteryear?) – whose  buying power is enormous. Now it is a market  that relies heavily on good communication and one that is senistive to its public perception – if it is not to be challenged as an indulgence that has little to do with people’s daily lives.    I liked to be reminded two ideas that Renaud Dutreil offered as a way of asserting luxuries bona fides in the modern world (remember the talk was targeted to 11th and 12th graders)

  • Modern luxury gives as much as it  takes; take the example of  crocodiles. Luxury houses buy crocodiles skins to make luxury bags but return part of their profits in the protection of the species. Another example would be donations to Arts and culture . Major luxury groups tend to be great donors. For LVMH it will be the future Louis Vuitton Foundation for Culture which should open in 2012 in a Franck Ghery building in the Bois de Boulogne , close to the Porte Maillot in Paris. (htt


  • American luxury brands tend to be pyramidal serving the largest number of consumers at the base of the pyramid (luxury brands can be found in outlets for example), but the real luxury products are reserved for a happy fewat the top of the pyramid . French luxury brands prefer to focus on quality and tend to serve a limited number of consumers.

1 Comment

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One response to “a lesson on luxury by LVMH USA CEO Renaud Dutreil

  1. David Lincoln Ross

    Concise and illuminating essay with a bit of humor thrown in. I liked the bit about chiffon couture facing an uncertain destiny in hell.

    I would have liked to hear more of what the LVMH President had to say about the future of luxury, surely we are not all pharoahs, at the top in life and at the bottom surrounded by our favorite indulgences in death.


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