NEW YORK--Comite Colbert, the French luxury goods trade association, enjoyed an estimated 10 percent sales gain last year in the U.S., where for many members of the organization "it was their best year ever," said Arie L. Kopelman, president of Chanel Inc. "The luxury goods business in America was extraordinarily successful last year," said Kopelman, who also serves as the Comite's U.S. chairman. He made his comments Tuesday following a news conference here, where the organization outlined plans for its annual promotions, scheduled to run here June 3-8 and in Beverly Hills beginning the week of Oct. 28. Kopelman said Chanel's U.S. business in 1995 was "well over 10 percent" ahead of the year before. He called 1995 the company's "best year by far." He projected another year of double-digit sales gains in 1996, but not quite as strong as last year. "We want to run our business with more pace," said Kopelman, who did not provide specific sales figures. ComitA Colbert members include Givenchy, Lanvin, John Lobb, Daum, Louis Vuitton and Boucheron. Although 1995 figures were not available, the association said the U.S. market accounted for 13 percent, or almost $900 million, of aggregate volume of $6.9 billion (34.6 billion francs) in 1994. Colbert members reported total volume of $6.3 billion, with 12 percent, or $750 million, coming from U.S. sales in 1993. The theme of this year's Comite Colbert promotion is "La France de l'Elegance." The plans include benefit dinners for the Colbert Foundation and special product demonstrations in member stores. In addition, the organization is sponsoring a contest for students from applied arts and design schools, who are invited to create a new product or concept. The winner will be chosen based on creativity and originality and receive the Colbert Award and a 100,000 franc scholarship. The Colbert Foundation, which supports educational projects, will hold its benefit dinner June 5 at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Saks Fifth Avenue here will be the host for many of the events, including a kickoff party June 3. Saks in New York and Beverly Hills will showcase goods from Comite Colbert members. For the Colbert Foundation dinner, French architect and designer Jean-Pierre Heim will create decor evoking Chateau de Malmaison and Empress Josephine.
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