Who are the ancestors of LVMH, Chanel, Hermès, Cartier? It’s the very clever question showcases by “La Fabrique du Luxe” at the Musée Cognacq Jay, a fabulous private mansion in the Marais.
The one-word answer is: the “merciers” or corporation of merchants.
What’s the story? “Merchants of everything and creators of nothing”, as they were defined not without humour by Diderot in his encyclopaedia. Joking aside, here is the explanation.
Their role ?
At the same time merchant, importer, collector, designer and decorator, the “mercier” is at the origin of the incredible rise of luxury à la parisienne. In reality, it’s one of the most important Parisian corporations of the 18th century siècle.
Through the destinies of Edme-François Gersaint, Lazare Duvaux or Dominique Daguerre, one discovers the careers of the most famous “merciers” offering vases, chests, jewellery boxes and other remarkable works of art that are going to showcase French taste and establish the mythical reputation of Paris.
Bernard Arnault invented nothing
The strength of these atypical characters? They have very strong relationships with the aristocracy, collect a network of international artistes and rely on the most exceptional know-how from around the world. In other words: when Vuitton invites Murakami to tag their bags, when Chanel offers a Vanessa Paradis concert for their best clients, quickly understand that the deluxe brands are freely inspired by their predecessors.
The origins of communication
In this very well put together exhibition, one discovers the talent of the “merciers” when it comes to developing the mechanisms of advertising promotions with artists such as Boucher ou Watteau, but also strategies on the development of flagships, brands,de contracts or exclusivities.
Afterwards? It’s the perfect moment for a small café pitstop in the sun or a delicious small sandwich with black bread at the Café Suédois, around the corner.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Entrance €8
Also discover the the great documentary by Ariel Wizman on slow fashion and the most trendy tables of fashion week.