Founded in 1987, the French-based LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton ranks as one of the world’s leading luxury companies known for its excellence in fashion and leather goods, wine and spirits, perfumes, cosmetics, jewelry, watches, and retailing (Som 69). Since its relatively modest beginning as a small champagne producer and clothing manufacturer, the company has grown to become France’s largest luxury conglomerate, now possessing a portfolio of over 60 celebrated brands (“LVMH Group”). As a French company headquartered in Paris, one could argue that a large part of LVMH’s appeal is “its French (and therefore, chic) origins” (Martin 166). But then why is France’s largest luxury conglomerate releasing press releases in English? All of this communication is intentional, and it is intentionally in English. Would its communicating in English not then undermine these origins?
To determine the answer to this question, I examine press releases from Dior, Cloudy Bay, and Louis Vuitton along with a press release addressed to shareholders regarding LVMH’s financial status after the 2008 global economic crisis. My paper also includes a discussion of the English-language communication at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, a free gallery open to the public located in Louis Vuitton’s flagship store on the Champs-Élysées.
It appears that a new definition of chic is emerging and that communication in English is an integral part of this definition. It is no longer enough for an enormous company such as LVMH to depend on its French origins alone to remain “timeless” and simultaneously “modern” (Som 70). It is through English that products are associated “with such positive concepts as elegance, sophistication, modernity,…international appeal” (Martin 178), and “the art of ‘chic’” (Martin 243). A company must combine these “French (and therefore, chic) origins” with the usage of English to communicate this sophistication to a global audience (Martin 166). France’s largest luxury company is in no way undermining its origins by communicating in English. Instead, LVMH is using English to reinforce its image of chic sophistication and luxury to a global audience, rendering it what I would like to refer to as globally chic.