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Luxury is no longer seen as the pastime of a small wealthy elite. Today’s luxury industry is one of Europe’s most dynamic sectors; consumers are allured by luxury brands and services; and states heavily tax luxuries. Yet, luxury is not just a construct of affluent societies of the twentieth century. The ‘time-flatness’ often observed in contemporary statements about luxury is perplexing for two reasons: first there is a long, complex and well documented role for luxury in history; second the business, marketing and creative sectors are keen to consider ‘luxury’ in its historical evolution, allowing for a better understanding of the genesis, evolution and transformation of this material and psychological phenomenon.

The Leverhulme International Network “Luxury & the Manipulation of Desire” aims to connect the long history of luxury with the importance that luxury has assumed in contemporary society. It does so by fostering dialogue between academics and curators based in partner institutions and experts, journalists and business people working in the luxury sector internationally.

The Network is hosted by the Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick and led by Giorgio Riello and Rosa Salzberg at the University of Warwick in collaboration with the Museum of Arts & Design, New York (Glenn Adamson), the Victoria & Albert Museum (Marta Ajmar), the University of Bologna (Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli), the University of Stockholm and UTS Sydney (Peter McNeil) and the University of Melbourne (Catherine Kovesi).