Ever since the first stone was laid in 1163, the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has become an enduring symbol of France—and its most popular tourist destination—that has borne witness to centuries of history, from the coronations of kings and emperors to the liberation from German occupation during the World War II. So imagine the horror when flames engulfed the 856-year-old masterpiece of Gothic architecture just days before Easter in April. The building’s spire later collapsed, before the fire destroyed the church’s wooden roof. Thankfully, Notre Dame was saved from total destruction.
French president Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral and immediately launched an international fundraising campaign for its restoration. Within days, more than €1 billion was raised from some of the country’s wealthiest families, among them François‑Henri Pinault of Kering, which owns fashion labels including Gucci and Saint Laurent, who started the ball rolling with a €100 million donation; while Bernard Arnault of LVMH, home to such brands as Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, gave €200 million.
The lightning speed of how the funds started rolling in just hours after the catastrophe sparked controversy, among them criticism on the priorities of philanthropists when it comes to charitable giving—but that is a story for another day. What is pertinent to note here is the affection luxury fashion houses have for the preservation of historical landmarks. Cases in point: Fendi and the Trevi fountain, Bvlgari and the Spanish Steps, and Tod’s and the Colosseum.