does this make you think twice about your bags? link is the same as the pasted article. http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,11882,1230302,00.html [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Louis Vuitton's links with Vichy regime exposed[/FONT] [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif] Kim Willsher in Paris Thursday June 3, 2004 The Guardian [/FONT] The luxury goods company Louis Vuitton collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation of France in the second world war, according to a new book. A French author has uncovered previously unpublished details of the firm's support for the Vichy regime which was responsible for the deportation of French Jews to German concentration camps. The book, Louis Vuitton, A French Saga, says members of the Vuitton family actively supported the puppet government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain and made money from their business dealings with the Germans. Its author, Stephanie Bonvicini, says she made the discovery while researching the rags-to-riches story of the firm's founder, Louis Vuitton, to mark its 150th anniversary this year. Louis Vuitton's LV-embossed suitcases and bags are popular with a wealthy and famous clientele including the Beckhams, the models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, and the actors Sharon Stone and Elizabeth Hurley. The company is now owned by the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy) group, which recently opened two huge stores in Paris and New York. Bonvicini says she was given full cooperation by the firm when she proposed writing the book a year ago. But when she asked about its wartime activities, she was told that company documents for the years 1930 to 1945 had been destroyed in a fire. "Their attitude changed completely the moment I mentioned the war years, from being very helpful to not responding to questions at all," she said. From historical archives she discovered that Louis Vuitton had a store on the ground floor of a fabulous property, the Hotel du Parc, in Vichy where Pétain set up his puppet government. While the other shopkeepers, including the jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels, were shut down, Vuitton was the only one allowed to stay. Bonvicini says she talked to surviving family members and found that Vuitton's grandson, Gaston, the wartime head of the company, had instructed his eldest son, Henry, to forge links with the Pétain regime to keep the business going. Henry, a regular at the local cafe frequented by the Gestapo, was one of the first Frenchmen to be decorated by the Nazi-backed government for his loyalty and his efforts for the regime. But the most damaging allegation is that the family set up a factory dedicated to producing artefacts glorifying Pétain, including more than 2,500 busts, a fact not mentioned in any of its business records. "Part of the collaboration was due to the family's obsession with the survival of the company, and part down to the fact that there was a certain sympathy with the regime's rightwing views," the author said. Louis Vuitton, born in rural France in 1821, set up his company in 1854 after travelling to Paris at the age of 14 with just a few francs in his pocket. Later he made trunks for the French empress Eugénie. After Louis died in 1892, his son, Georges, expanded the company and developed the world's first "designer label". He introduced the distinctive beige-on-brown LV monogram to mark Vuitton products out from cheap copies. Today the multimillion pound LVMH group has 314 Vuitton shops in 52 countries. Bonvicini says the company was at first "extremely keen" on the book and promised to promote it and ensure it was published in English and Japanese. But since it appeared on April 7, LVMH has wanted nothing to do with it, and it has received little press coverage. The head of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, is one of the richest men in France and the firm is the country's biggest advertiser in the press. Caroline Babulle, a spokeswoman for the publisher, Fayard, said: "They have not contested anything in the book, but they are trying to bury it by pretending it doesn't exist." Bonvicini added: "Nobody is prepared to risk losing their advertising revenue. But it's scandalous that everyone is just ignoring the book. I can't understand why the company has adopted this attitude. The Vuittons weren't the only ones to collaborate, and of course the company's values have changed now." A spokesman for LVMH said last night: "This is ancient history. The book covers a period when it was family-run and long before it became part of LVMH. We are diverse, tolerant and all the things a modern company should be." LMVH says the wartime period does not warrant 50 pages of the book. "We don't deny the facts, but regrettably the author has exaggerated the Vichy episode," an LVMH spokesman told the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchainé, the only French publication to mention the book. He added: "We haven't put any pressure on anyone. If the journalists want to censor themselves, then that suits us fine." Louis Vuitton is concerned about upsetting the powerful Jewish constituency in America, which has already conducted one inquiry into the company. Michel Zaoui, a lawyer and spokesman for the Jewish council in France, said it was the first he had heard of the book or the allegations. "It is extremely important that these matters are publicised and known by the general public. "However, since the people involved are now dead, it would seem ridiculous to organise a boycott of Louis Vuitton goods. We would not want that. If they were still involved in anti-semitic activities, that would be different. "What does shock, but not surprise me, is that the French press has not publicised this book and that I'm hearing about it from a foreign journalist, but that's the French press."