Where do luxury goods go now?

Mark Tungate

It's 10am on a sunny Sunday morning and for once the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is quiet. Normally the distant Arc de Triomphe is obscured by a haze of exhaust fumes rising from two crawling lines of traffic, but today the view up the avenue from the Place de la Concorde is diamond clear.

The avenue is not entirely deserted, however. A motorcade of three large black cars makes its stately way to the Louis Vuitton flagship store at the corner of Avenue George V. The cars sigh to a halt outside the emporium, which has been specially opened for the occasion.

A uniformed chauffeur emerges and opens the rear door of the middle car. From its cool dark interior emerges a vision in a cerise velour tracksuit. The tiny figure's neck and wrists are weighed down with gold jewellery. In her arms she cradles a chihuahua. The girl is barely 17 and she is a princess from one of the Persian Gulf States.