PARIS is the birthplace of luxury fashion, and here the recession biting the world has the feel of a morality play. As high-end consumers everywhere have suddenly suppressed their appetite for luxury goods, what was once considered a recession-proof industry has been hit hard.High-end stores in the United States watched in horror as holiday sales tanked, while in Tokyo, Louis Vuitton canceled plans for what would have been its largest and most glittery store anywhere.For the French, each wave of bad news has brought high anxiety here. When Chanel recently announced the layoff of 200 temporary employees — only slightly more than 1 percent of its 16,000-member work force — the daily newspaper Le Parisien called the news a bombshell.
By Elaine Sciolino, Jan 14, 2009

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