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Luxury for everyone

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Calm or voluptuous? From Coco Chanel to Jean Nouvel, here are five mantras from French artists who inspire us.

« Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. »

Coco Chanel, the great fashion designer, came from a very modest background but was soon rubbing shoulders with high society, in particular thanks to her lover Étienne Balsan who was a gentleman millionnaire.

« Space remains the real luxury. »

Jean Nouvel, the most prolific architect in France, is responsible for such buildings as the Arab World Institute, the Philarmonie de Paris and the Galeries Lafayette in Berlin. He is famous for his large-scale projects and for his constant quest to optimise space.

« Contradicting yourself, Georges. What luxury! That is my luxury. It is my very own disorder. Let me be. »

Jean Cocteau, the French artist, poet, designer, illustrator, playwright and filmmaker, discovered the theatre and the cinema at the age of six but proved to be an undisciplined pupil who failed his school diploma twice. By the age of barely twenty he was well known in Parisian bohemian artist circles, and his works were the seed for the new surrealism written by Guillaume Apollinaire. Cocteau later became one of the figures in the Dada literary movement, built on the absurd.

« Surprises sometimes come from the simplest things. Ultimately, is the new luxury not simplicity? »

Alain Ducasse: now at the head of a gastronomic empire, this three-Michelin-starred chef built his reputation on refined cuisine and high-quality produce.

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