The Birth of French Luxury

Sèvres china, Saint-Gobain mirrors, silks from Lyon, laces from Alençon… These luxury good have born dazzling testimony to French skill and taste since the late 1700s. But just a century earlier, Louis XIV had ruled over a penniless land. The military budget and an economic crisis had emptied the government’s coffers, and the king’s subjects sorely needed employment. The development of exclusive industries was the Sun King’s remarkable strategy for dealing with these difficulties. But even in the 17th century, local producers carefully guarded their own precious trade secrets. It took state-sponsored espionage, kidnappings and bribery to hoist France to the pinnacle of Europe’s luxury-goods market. Through archives, reenactments and interviews with experts, the documentary the Birth of French Luxury dives into the fascinating origins of this new industry in historical, economic, scientific and cultural terms.