Coffee grinder, 1756–1757. Jean Ducrollay, goldsmith. Gold in three colors, steel, and ivory. Musée du Louvre, Département des Objets d’Art, OA 11950. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY / Daniel Arnaudet
by Dr. Anne Prah-Perochon, art historian and contributor to the journal France-Amérique
If Paris is the undisputed capital of luxury goods and fashion, it is due in a very large part to the 17th-century king Louis XIV. More than any other French monarch, Louis XIV was the charismatic personnage who spurred an exceptional wave of creativity in interior decoration, haute couture, gastronomy, jewelry, and perfume.
With the assistance of his remarkable minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Sun King willed France into holding the monopoly on culture, style, and luxury, and made the French craftsmen the best in the world. By the end of his reign (1715) the French were considered all over the Western world to be the absolute arbiters in matters of taste and style, and France ruled over every sector of the luxury trade as it still does 350 years later.