Luxury and la ville lumiere: Paris

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For centuries, Paris enjoyed a reputation for being the world’s centre of all things fashionable, including clothing, fragrances, cosmetics, and cuisine. Thanks to globalization and information technology, the city may not be as central to those concepts as it once was, but Paris’ mystique and panache still create a connection to style in the minds of those that hear her name.

As with most major European metropolises, the city has been around for millennia, beginning as a small agglomeration of dwellings in an area favourable to agriculture, trade, and defence. Many such places evolved to create most of the European capitals we know today, but comparatively speaking, Paris was and early success story. By the late 12th Century, the city was a walled hub of learning, faith, and culture, and rose to become the largest urban nucleus in the western world until the 18th Century. During that time, the opulence of the French court and its nobles brought artisans and entrepreneurs from all over the planet to engage is their crafts. Fragrance experts flocked to Paris during the Renaissance, bearing with them the knowledge of floral and herbal cultivation and extraction that had originally been practised in Arab and Persian cultures. Modern perfume production in Europe took root in Hungary then wended their way west to the Italian courts and finally to France, where the south evolved to produce and the centre and north consumed.

The rise of France

The evolution of make up followed much the same course, beginning as a simple, luxury item, then evolving into an industry. Though something originally confined to the extremely wealthy, the growth of the cosmetic industry (resulting in competition and the eventual lowering of prices) allowed it to enter more humble homes and enjoy acceptance as a common, daily practice for more people than simply the spectacularly wealthy. Just about every industry associated with riches and opulence grew massively in France between the Renaissance and the modern industrial era, as the country was a trade centre for a number of colonies and territories. Apart from fragrances and cosmetics, things like fashion, cuisine, education, medicine, martial technologies, and other fields blossomed along with the fortunes of La Belle France.

Today, France remains a preeminent part of the luxury landscape and is home to many of the world’s largest cosmetic and fragrance houses. As mentioned, cosmetic firms are no longer exclusive to western Europe or France, but of the top 100 cosmetic firms in the world, the biggest is France’s L’Oréal Group.

Headquartered in Clichy, France, the company has been operating for more than a century and generates over 18 Billion USD annually. To put that into perspective, of the 192 countries officially recognized by the United Nations, L’Oréal has a higher estimated income than approximately 111 of them. The luxury market has evolved into big business in the 21st Century, and France is once again at the centre of it all.

It’s no wonder, then, that France plays host to a number of events throughout the year dedicated to cosmetics and fragrances, as well as the packaging required to contain them.

Shows in France

The first show in France for 2014 is sponsored by the Societe Francaise De Cosmetologie is Cosmetagora, a forum for the discussion of cosmetic formulation and product development. With topics ranging from toxicology testing to new product formulation, the show offers exactly what the name would imply, a gathering place (“agora” in Greek) for cosmetics. The next big event is PCD (Perfumes, Cosmetics, and Design), a meeting of minds for all things related to make up and fragrances. In it’s 10th year, the event also hosts an Innovation Workshop where professionals can meet to discuss ideas, product development, and market strategies.

Spring and summer see a variety of shows blossom like the French countryside. Make-Up in Paris pops up in June, and offers two days of events and booths dedicated to the latest in beauty products. Cosmeeting Paris and Beyond Beauty take place in September, two of France’s largest shows related to cosmetics and fragrances. In the same month, professionals can also attend Mondial Coiffure Beauty, a show dedicated to hair care, styling, and the professional salon experience.

While Paris may have a lost her undisputed position of prominence as the world’s heart of all things stylish, she has still managed to hold on to enough of her charms to remain relevant, significant, and enchanting. With regard to anything related to personal beauty and luxury, Paris is (and for quite some time will most likely remain) an important place to be.