LVMH reveals secrets of its luxury brands

Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:22pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - For the first time in its history, luxury conglomerate LVMH has provided a peek into its exclusive workshops, design showrooms and wine cellars -- to reveal the hundreds of hands and delicate workmanship behind its expensive brands.

Seeking to "reveal the true nature of high quality," according to LVMH, the company opened up 25 of its brands to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

Couturiers like Christian Dior and Givenchy welcomed hundreds of the curious in Paris, while in France's champagne region, top makers from Dom Perignon to Moet & Chandon opened their cellars.

In Italy, Bulgari, Fendi and Pucci participated in the "Private Days," which also reached Spain, Scotland and Poland.

"These are works of art," said Beatrice de Plinval of Parisian jewelers Chaumet, referring to the nearly 3,000 diadems -- or bejeweled headpieces -- the company has produced since it first began serving the French aristocracy in 1780. "This is a profession of passion."

Worn no less by Josephine Bonaparte, the first wife of Emperor Napoleon, Chaumet's sparkling creations can require between 500 to 1,500 hours of workmanship. It takes 10 years for a jeweler to develop a "good hand," said de Plinval, who is curator of Chaumet's archives and museum.

"Each house has its identity, so it takes time to learn," explained jeweler Nicolas Tappou, who has worked at Chaumet for 15 years - one of the countless artisans who labor behind the scenes at LVMH's celebrated houses.

LVMH publishes third-quarter sales figures on Tuesday, with analysts expecting strong growth. Despite the tough global economic environment, the luxury sector has continued to grow helped by a resurgence of demand in Europe and strong performances in Asia.   Continued...

<p>Pedestrians walk past a fashion brand advertisement at the Shinsegae department store in Seoul October 11, 2009. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak</p>