Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith

How does Paul Smith bring his story to the Chinese market?

Since the opening of the first store in the China’s biggest city in 2014, the very British ready-to-wear brand Paul Smith needed to educate this population to his story using a specific storytelling through the «Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith» exhibition.

With stores located in 73 countries, Paul Smith is the man credited for the re-popularization of boxer shorts in the 1980’s, and now boasts the most Instagramed building in all of California—in the form of his bright pink Melrose Avenue store. The touring exhibition arrived in Shanghai after visits in London, L.A., Taiwan, and two stops in Japan—Kyoto and Tokyo—where Smith has gained somewhat of a cult following. His success in Japan is partly attributed to the designer’s longstanding contribution to the market; he was first invited to visit Japan in 1982, just three years after the opening of his second store in London. Despite holding off on the Chinese market until 2012, Paul Smith’s potential in the mainland is growing as luxury Japanese culture continues to shape the decisions of buyers in China. The brand at present has one store in Shanghai, two in Beijing, and one in Chengdu.

Inside, customers are directly immersed in the world of the brand. With wooden furniture and other velvet sofas and chairs, Paul Smith is very regarding to how customers can feel the real values of the brand through his several stores in each part of the world. In Shanghai, the store follows the trends in terms of visual merchandising from the outside. As other luxury brands, Paul Smith’s store gets a very impressive and very colorful architecture. By this way it is clearly impossible to not see the store from the street.  Compared to his competitors, the brand has nothing to envy. For the retailing strategy in China, Paul Smith partners with ImagineX, a retail management company with over 21 years in the business. Their partnership began roughly in 2013, with the signing of a five-year exclusive franchise and distribution agreement. According the ImagineX Executive

Director Alice Wong, this business is like a marriage: «We speak the same language as Paul Smith and understand how they want to seriously grow the brand carefully in China».

Even if the brand is now implemented in China, Paul Smith still needed to seduce Chinese customers and teach them about the history of the company. For luxury company’s storytelling is key.  Louis Vuitton has built all its business on its first activity: trunks and traveling. For Paul Smith the storytelling is all around its creator: Paul Smith himself. Therefore, they decided to bring the exhibition « Hello My Name Is Paul Smith » to Shanghai. Few years ago, the Chinese market was not very concerned by the story of the brands. Trends are evolving today, and products are not enough to seduce luxury clients, even the youngest. When they go in-store, clients need to know how all this world has been created to consume with more knowledge and more passion.

The exhibition took place at the Modern Art Museum from Tuesday October 10th, 2017 to Sunday January 7th, 2018. The exhibition showcases the fashion designer’s journey in building

his company, as well as his stylistic tastes and eye for design. It combines the artistic and the business aspects of running a fashion brand and gives the audience a glimpse into the designer’s world, helping people understand the interactions between operating within an industry as a business and within the fashion world as a designer and artist.

More and more luxury companies are creating exhibitions as Dior did it in Paris with the «Christian Dior: Couturier du rêve», or Hermès with the «Hermès à tire-d’aile – Les mondes

de Leïla Menchari». These exhibitions allow brands to expose their history and their values. This strategy is built on the wish to target a larger audience and make people dream about the brand. The exhibition « Hello My Name Is Paul Smith » helps people to understand how the creator has built all this amazing business based on his values and his inspirations. The other reason why brands create exhibitions, is to build a strong relation with art. Many brands use art for their strategy to target a new part of the population and bring an added-value to their products and brand image.

Paul Smith now understands the demand of this specific Chinese market in terms of luxury goods and services. Now we must wait a few years to see how the brand manages its image through the time and how they adapt the story to Chinese customers.

 

Article written by Thibaut Lerda, Lisa Perrein, Nogol Nakhai, Julie Arthuys & Laureen Baldacchino

#DoubleDegree #efap #essca

 

PRADA RONG ZHAI

Opened last October, Prada Rong Zhai is a grand and lasting manifestation of Prada’s commitment to Chinese history and culture and the latest of the brand’s extraordinary architectural explorations. Originally owned by Yung Tsonga-King, the villa is one of Shanghai’s finest Western-style villas. Yung Tsoon King (1873-1938) was a self-made Chinese entrepreneur who had a background in Confucianism, and the classics of economy and history. To elevate his family, he decided to go into the Bank sector, and a few years later, in 1896, he established his first joint venture. He was extremely successful and soon became very wealthy.  The house where he used to live, Rong Zhai, is now a symbol of prosperity, which is very positive in China.

PRADA AND ARCHITECTURE

Prada is much more than just a fashion brand. Indeed, the company has always been inspired by all forms of art and has often linked them together to create unique pieces of art. Architecture, for instance, is a way for Prada to express its creativity and innovation, and the parallels and contrasts between these two forms of design have been central to Prada for over a century. For years and years, Prada has expanded its love for architecture, by creating many “Epicenters” in the world.  In New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Prada’s influence has expanded from fashion to culture and architecture.  Prada Rong Zhai is the latest investment from the brand to show its passion for many kinds of art.

PRADA AND CHINA

China has always held a valued place for Prada. It was therefore obvious for the brand to open another amazing building in China. The Rong Zhai building, with its history and its commitment to the Chinese culture, was a real evidence for the brand. To revive it, attention to details was key and the collaboration between Italian and Chinese experts results in a truly unique venue where east meets west. The goal was to create a place where art is put on display. To achieve this, the Mansion’s subtleties were preserved, and bling decoration avoided, making this House a real art-piece.

THE PRADA RONG ZHAI COLLECTION

The Prada creations that were displayed at the exhibition mixed Prada’s bold designs with Chinese fashion. For example, visitors could observe Prada “Qipao” dresses, which originate from 1920’s Shanghai and represent typical examples of Chinese fashion; as well as Chinese patterns and symbols such as rabbits which represent the moon. However, there were also more modern pieces, adding to the spirit of past and present which floats at the Manor.  Unique accessories could also be witnessed such as bags where the name of the venue was written, while others bore patterns inspired from the Chinese culture.

To conclude, the opening of Prada Rong Zhai is a symbol of Prada’s commitment to Chinese culture and history. Through this exhibition, Prada affirms once again its passion for all kinds of art by linking Fashion and Architecture in a spectacular manner, paving the way for Shanghai to write the rest of the Mansion’s story.

Dewi DE NORAY – Fiona GUAS – Carole GUIRGUIS – Christopher LOIZANCE

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Visionary, pioneer, liberator of women…

There are indeed as many prestigious adjectives to describe the man Yves Saint Laurent was. However, the words remain quite weak to do him justice. Numerous of books, documentaries or movies have tried, sometimes successfully, but always with a touch of fiction. Paying tribute to an artist and his love for the style, is indeed a complex exercise. But which better way then, if not the contemplation of his work? This is what the Saint Laurent Museum offers: to admire the accomplishment of the designer, by taking us along in his journey. From his early career in the Maison Dior, where he was named artistic director at only 21 years old, through his meeting with Pierre Bergé, the creation of his own Maison, passing by his democratization of women’s pants, his tributes to the great masters of painting, to finish by his tearful goodbyes on the 7th of January in 2002.

The Yves Saint Laurent Paris Museum opens the door to a whole different world. The one of Yves Saint Laurent. Rendez-vous at the 5 Avenue Marceau, in the sixteenth district, the very same place where the Maison was located, and in which the aura of the creator has remained everywhere: through his portraits of course, but also through the Haute Couture dresses, his amazing sketches, or the inspirational pictures and fabrics pinned to the wall of his studio. This same studio, where the messy desk, the glasses nonchalantly placed on the table, and the sensation of the cigarette still smoking in the ashtray, give the feeling of a full immersion into the universe of Saint Laurent. As a proof, the almost religious silence that is made as soon as you enter the room.

Everything in the museum is made to make visitors feel strong and mixed emotions. Being so close to the creator, through real relics of his daily life can only amaze any good fashion lover. More than the sense of wonder, it is a sense of nostalgia that comes over you when you contemplate the famous Mondrian dress, most copied dress in the world, or the « smocking trousers suit » designed in 1966, when only a few women had the audacity to wear pants at work. The nostalgia to think that an era is now over, wondering if someday, a creator will be as innovative and precursory as Yves Saint Laurent. Throughout his life, Yves Saint Laurent has worked for the women. What he loved above all? Make them beautiful, make them unique. His boundless creativity led him to develop outfits that not only revolutionized ladies’ dress, but also established

some of the basics of modern women’s wardrobe. By borrowing the clothes of men to slide them on the shoulders of women, Saint Laurent spread his message well beyond the circles of regulars of Haute Couture.

« Chanel has often been said to have liberated women, it’s true, years later, Saint Laurent gave them the power, and that’s why his work goes beyond the work of a fashion designer », said Pierre Bergé, the companion of the creator and co-founder of the Maison, whom the museum also pays a great tribute to. A fifteen minutes very moving film shows rare pictures of the creator, commented by the person who knew him better. Anecdotes, but also restored facts and proofs of their unconditional love, little things that make their romance a legendary love story, are delivered to the visitors through this movie. Let’s recall that it is the wish of Pierre Bergé to create this museum, to report the work of the couturier. More than a way to pay tribute to him, it is also a way to present the true personality of Saint Laurent to the visitors. This is more moving to know that Pierre Bergé unfortunately missed by only a few weeks the opportunity to discover the museum and to see how the story of Saint Laurent is making generations of people dreaming. « I wish that in 100 years, one studies my dresses, my drawings. » said Yves Saint Laurent once. It is undoubtedly the case.

 

Megane GORI – Sidonie LAEBENS – Helene RIGOUT

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