Sophistication “à la française”

In the wake of the economic crisis that France is currently experiencing, many sectors have seen their sales stagnate or decline. The French luxury industry however was not as severely impacted by this crisis due to its central position within French society.

Luxury can be defined as the enjoyment of the best elements in life through exclusivity, wealth, and beauty. It uses expensive or rare materials combined with exceptional customer service experience. Luxury makes people dream and want to stand out from the ordinary, create a distance. French luxury however transcends this simplistic understanding of luxury by relying on its rich historical culture of refinement and elegance acquired over the past couple centuries. This passion towards France’s “art de vivre” is made apparent by its position as the world’s most popular touristic destination. How many people can we see queuing daily in front of the Louis Vuitton stores? How long before do we need to book a table in a French Michelin-starred restaurant? How many people to do you need to pass through to see the Mona Lisa?

French luxury is an emblem of cultural heritage. However, amid the never-ending innovations brought by the traditional market, French luxury brands need to continuously innovate and adapt to the revolution that is the digital age. Much is expected from a product labelled “Made in France”, for it is token of quality, grandeur and outstanding craftsmanship. Therefore, luxury brands fight to maintain their image while tallying the expectations of modern consumers. This balance of modernity and traditionalism is a strength of French houses such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton and their brand development strategy is often sought by their competitors. They portray a high level of aesthetics in all aspects: whether its creation, manufacturing, materials, craftmanship, service and experience.

Nonetheless, with the advent of technology, the client’s tastes, needs and desires have changed. A more experimental approach on luxury is appearing and French brands aim to lead this trend. When Russians come visit Bordeaux wineries in helicopter or Guerlain lets you make your own perfume, these are the kind of unforgettable experiences French luxury offers. Luxury requires to go beyond the product, and create a journey full of emotions in the heart of the brand’s values.

By Alice Brandicourt, Jeanette De Leon, Antoine Erwes, Laura Pianko

#efapmbaluxe #DecodingLuxury

Luxury in France through foundations

We interviewed Carly Newman, Project Manager at the Kering Foundation, and previously at the L’Oréal Foundation. We asked her for her vision of luxury in France through those foundations, the purpose of these organizations and the link with the French luxury brands. 

She strongly believes on the purpose of those foundations. For her, it is a result of a deep will of changing things and mentalities. By choosing to work for those foundations, she did not choose to work only for the luxury industry but mainly for all the causes luxury groups are defending. Those two foundations have very different goals: the L’Oréal Foundation advocates for Science and exceptional women scientists who are still too few in this sector, while the Kering Foundation fights violence against women. For both groups, women remain at the heart of their concerns as the major part of their luxury brands’ clients and employees are women.

We can notice that there is indeed a real will of change and empowerment, but we also think that it may represent an opportunity for luxury brands to improve their image and boost their notoriety. Some of them are facing scandals related to their industry (anorexia and working conditions of models, animal abuse and environmental issues related to raw materials, etc.) and to commit to a cause can be a way to restore their image. The budget allocated by the Kering Foundation to the communication is moderate, and according to Carly Newman, this is justified by the fact that it is much more important to finance a lot of actions than to communicate on them. However, only few people know the aim of those foundations, whereas L’Oréal and Kering conglomerates are known by everybody. This raises a question: Is it preferable to do more actions than communicate more about them to make these causes known by the public? Communication should be essential to gain awareness toward the causes. A more informed public will be able to better understand the stakes of these causes and the link with the luxury groups, which would also justify the commitment of these brands on these subjects.

Luxury is a sector that launches trends and educates customers on beauty and quality. These foundations reflect their brands and their universe such as the L’Oréal Foundation which is committed to Women and Science. It is a way for them to show that innovation and the place of women in the scientific world is at the heart of their activity. This is one of the best means to communicate for a luxury brand, thus bringing an image of a brand close to its consumers and their needs, while being a modern and innovative leading brand. It is also through foundations that the luxury industry can show its engagement, its principles, its connection with the world and with societal issues. By choosing to speak for a cause and engage for it, the luxury brands demonstrate one important thing: renown, reputation and prestige can be used wisely to help voices be heard.

Luxury is not only about glitters, it also involves commitments and battles for human beings, their ideas and their well-being. All this successful economy could not exist without the help of those who work for it every day. Behind a beautiful brand, a popular product, a good concept, there are always great people and brilliant ideas. And nothing is more important for the future of luxury than to promote and protect them.

By Lara Levet – Juliette Gazeau Jallet – Louise Amsellem

#efapmbaluxe #decodingluxury

Let’s talk about Luxury!

The French luxury and the French art-de-vivre are worldwide renowned: fashion, gastronomy, wine & spirits… Our country is a source of inspiration for so many people because luxury is fixed in our culture.

French Luxury is so complex. According to us, we can distinguish two types of luxury, the first one is the traditional luxury that you can see, something you can buy. The second one is more subjective, something you can’t touch but you can feel, something immaterial.

Refinement & delight

Faced with the threat of the industrialization, we can’t talk about luxury without mention craftsmanship.  This precise gesture full of tradition tightly linked with arts because it takes time to create an extraordinary and excellent product that revolves around the brand’s history and know-how. People who work in this sector know how to generate desire around a product or a service.

Moreover, in France, people don’t want only a good quality service or product. Clients want to be moved and live a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they taste the fine bubbles of a Dom Pérignon, the delicacy of a Pierre Hermé pastry or partake in a Michelin-star meal at the George V.

This is the possibility to go beyond the ordinary, to live an unreal experience. Luxury has the ways and means to generate shortage because luxury can’t exist without exclusivity and refinement.

Back to basics

At first sight, Luxury seems to be something inaccessible, a world apart which makes you dream, where only few people have an “entry ticket”. Nevertheless, if we look further, luxury can be in all little things of our everyday life…

In France notably, it’s important for French people to have some special time when you can log off and refocus on your own well-being and the people you care for. Most people find luxury in simplicity. Liberty is a symbol of luxury, to take time to sit down and drink a fragrant cup of coffee, or a glass of wine shared with friends. France embodies perfectly the hedonist pleasure, the luxury of liberty and time.

Of course, this is a subjective notion because people don’t consume luxury in the same way.

The fact is that each of us has his own definition of French Luxury. But one thing is sure, it makes someone dream, somewhere in the world, whether it be our traditional know-how, our sophistication or our freedom.

by Mélanie Monnier, Camille Dorvidal, Tamara Cavin, Coralie Delamaison and Alexandre Pierotin

#efapmbaluxe #decodingluxury

French luxury, between dream and reality

« Time and Silence are the most luxurious things today », Tom Ford once said.

In a world where life goes so fast, where needs seem more pressing and immediate than ever, where does timeless luxury stand for French consumers? How do the French perceive luxury? Does “made in France” still make French people dream? Or has it just become a fantasy for the affluent consumers of emerging countries?

During the last decade, the luxury market in France has proven once again that France is still the symbol of luxury, due to its history and to its well recognized know-how and quality all over the world. In 2016, luxury was one of the rare French industries with a trade surplus. French companies dominate the industry, with three of them ranking among the top ten luxury companies in the world, including LVMH, the unchallenged number one in the latest Deloitte ranking for the luxury industry. Brands such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Chanel, Christian Lacroix among others contribute every year to the reputation of Paris, the City of light, as capital of luxury, all over the world.

However, Luxury is a relative and subjective value. Though some ingredients are essential to create a luxury brand, such as creativity, excellence, rarity, quality, history, etc., luxury lies in the eye of the beholder.

We could see this through the answers of French people from different social categories that we have met, including luxury bloggers, luxury consumers, as well as people who never consume luxury products. If each of them had a different approach of luxury, many of them most often mentioned expensive personal items. They said that they like to look at luxury, but not to buy it. Few are those who mentioned the other sectors like big hotels and palaces, wine and spirits, the famous French gastronomy, etc.

Nowadays, luxury is associated to money and wealth even if for experts it still evokes excellence and history independently of its financial value. France is a non-ostentatious country. Luxury seems for many useless, unnecessary and frivolous despite its impacting economic weight.

There is a big gap between the image of French luxury projected all over the world and the vision of the French consumer.

Perhaps the vision of luxury is changing especially among the young generations. They are not impressed anymore by the « hand-made » not even by the « well made” which made the French luxury so famous. A lot of artisan’s manual skills and jobs are dying. Elisabeth Ponsolles des Portes, the General Delegate of the Comité Colbert once said «France is the only country where I have to defend luxury, ce qui est un comble!»

In 2017, the new luxury consumers enjoy living experiences and not just possessing luxury goods. A safari in Tanzania or a journey on an undiscovered island might be more interesting and luxurious for them than having a nice car.

A new strategy might be needed to satisfy such consumers.

By Nada Ghantous, Bruno Moreau, Clémence Lefèvre, Julien Porte

#efapmbaluxe #decodingluxury

Maison Baude

Defining luxury is a complex thing to do. Indeed, not everyone has the same sensibility to it, and it can be a controversial subject. We asked several people to share with us their perception of luxury. And even if the answers can be different from one to another, the one thing they all agreed on, was that France, and especially Paris, plays a significant role in luxury, and is the cornerstone of it.

It is interesting to notice that although a lot of people we interrogated associate luxury with high prices and to show-off, most of them agreed on saying that high quality and strong brand values define a luxury brand. French luxury is the pioneer of luxury, especially when it comes to the know-how of the artisans, and to the quality of the products and services.

To have another perspective, we interviewed Ms. Elodie BAUDE who is very familiar with the sector. The Maison BAUDE creator and designer, who knows all about the industry, gave us her own perception of luxury.  According to Elodie BAUDE, the vision of luxury should come back to its beginning of it all. Luxury should be exceptional and rare, and not accessible for everyone. She explained that one of the most important things about luxury is the values of the brand. She also thinks that true luxury clients would not buy something just because it’s trendy, but because they deeply like it. She told us that France is obviously a trend setter regarding fashion, because the country has always been in love with fashion, and pays attention to every detail.

To sum up, what we learned from these answers is that there is not only one definition of luxury. It can be defined differently according to several factors like the tastes, the country or the social background of the person. Luxury is an individual appreciation and a cultural perception.

By Sidonie LAEBENS, Megane GORI and Helene RIGOUT

#efapmbaluxe #maisonbaude #decodingluxury

Street Luxe : a new luxury experience

The luxury sector global turnover should reach between €254 and €259bn in 2017. But its growth raises an issue. Luxury had originally been initiated for an upper class which was looking for differentiation, and today it is a far less discrete middle class that tries to access it. In France, and abroad, luxury has always been focusing on rarity and elitism, with a very prestigious and traditional know-how, reflective of a French excellence. However, its definition is going to evolve. Indeed, a phenomenon can be more and more observed today which is the urbanization of luxury, especially in fashion. And that is what guides our mind today. A good example of this new trend is what Riccardo Tisci did for Givenchy. If you think of Audrey Hepburn’s long black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and compare it to the collections of sportswear items that you can find today in Givenchy stores, you clearly see that fashion has revolutionary changed in the past decade and is now moving towards something more modern and less elegant than it used to be.

From Harlem to Avenue Montaigne

In its 2017 Gucci Cruise show, Alessandro Michele created a balloon jacket highly inspired by Dapper Dan’s one of the 1980s. As a consequence, and to avoid being charged for plagiarism, Gucci recruited Dapper Dan for its future Men’s Tailoring campaign.  Let’s recall that in 1992, Dan’s boutique in Harlem had been closed by Fendi’s attorney, Sonia Sotomayor, after being sued for selling counterfeits.  The clothes he sold were very popular on the hip-hop stage, and set the tone for what we know today as New York iconic fashion street style.

Why would luxury brands go street style?

When Louis Vuitton decides to collaborate with Supreme, its main goal is to seduce a new generation of potential clients: The Millennials and Generation Z, who already account for 30% of luxury consumers. This is also what happens when Chanel and Dior decide to create sneakers, straying from their identity to please the youngest. It really is a luxury modernization we are witnessing.

A risky business

The main danger that brands might be facing when going street style is that they can easily confuse urbanization and democratization. Marc by Marc Jacobs for instance has been shut down because it was becoming too accessible, and devaluating the original luxury aspect of the Marc Jacobs brand. Furthermore, the main customers of the brands – who then account for 60% – still need to be pleased and not forgotten because they still are the most important clients. And after all, street style, for the moment, is just a strategy to attract younger customers which we can imagine will spread and lead to other new trends because, as Anna Wintour once said, «Fashion’s not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward.».
By Véronique LOPES, Pierre MAILLET, Pauline NORMAND and Virginie PORTALI

#efapmbaluxe #DecodingLuxury

Luxury: yesterday, today and tomorrow

France made luxury its excellence and international success and French luxury is a reference, but perceptions remain different according to customers. Indeed, today we can witness a strong attraction to French luxury brands from emerging countries, which can be explain by the desire of owning visible signs of affluence. On the other hand, in Europe, for certain customers, the perception of luxury remains very elitist and some of them feel distant and timid towards this sector.

Initially considered as austere and cold, luxury was reserved for a certain category of people: high society, celebrities and happy few seeking exclusivity and uniqueness. Luxury -goods and services- companies understood their market and targeted those who could afford what they offered. The luxury products distribution model was exclusive and almost private. So private that “common people” did not enter in a luxury boutique or in a palace because they were afraid to be judged and look down, as they did not “fit” in this world. At that time, Paris was considered as the fashion and luxury heart, not only for the French people but also globally in Europe and in the world. Home for many luxury houses, the capital was (and still is) an endless source of inspiration. Most of the most prestigious hotels are located in Paris, and the best restaurants too. For those who couldn’t afford this lifestyle, they considered luxury as an unreachable dream.

Today in France, we can see that luxury try to become popularized. One of the first interesting actions is the roll-out of e-shop websites. Walking into a store can sometimes be intimidating (Cartier store) and the possibility of ordering items online allows people who would not dare entering to buy more easily – or people that don’t have access to a store nearby to buy their favorite brands in a more practical way. This democratization is also made thanks to social media that have an essential role in the development of brand image. A warmer image that makes people dream with the live diffusion of fashion shows on Facebook and Instagram for example: a nice way to invite followers to share this unique experience. A brand-new approach was even implemented by Givenchy which organized a giveaway to make people win three places to attend its SS18 show; this contest was exclusively promoted on the Instagram account of the brand – an original digital rotary very well received. Today luxury communication also involves influencers: they are closer to consumers and they educate them as for trends and products shaped by brands. But across this whole digitalization, values of heritage, craftsmanship and excellence that are the essence of made in France luxury brands, tend to get lost. It is then important to educate customers thanks to exhibition (Christian Dior, Couturier du rêve) and artisans staging (Hermès hors les murs). Back to basics enjoyable for the youngster and the elderly.

For the future, one of the main issues regarding the luxury industry would be to deal with the Z-generation. Those post-millennials are challenging for luxury players that need to seduce and recruit this new target. Ourselves, the eight hands that are writing this article, are pretty close from this generation, and it’s true that, with smartphone and digital all around, we’re definitely used to have everything, right away. The issue is therefore to combine this notion of instantaneity with the one of eternity, whose culture and heritage are the very essence of luxury brands. We also can notice that this generation feel more concern about sustainable development and may reject some exotic leathers or materials. According to this, shouldn’t luxury brands take a step toward the Z-generation by adopting a more mindful approach?

Luxury has evolved over the time but is still evocative of emotions, excellence and exception: it is a full-fledged art, an added-value when it is mixed and shared with another sector such as gastronomy or hospitality. By its evocation, imaginary and creativity, luxury has allowed the Houses to keep their exceptional character and mystery, which thus gives back to the sustainable, the root and the non-commercial to their products. Between tradition and modernity, luxury has become a showcase to show codes, values and universes internationally. Luxury is a sales force and a legitimate reason for the prices charged.  Today, luxury Houses (notably French and Italian) need to focus on  financial and industrial logics that integrate market needs, demand, competition and profitability. In spite of more or less risky collaborations, one finds for example a more commercial relation with Louis Vuitton where luxury is an added value, a more intimate relationship with Hermès and its legendary humility where luxury is a respected value, and a more democratic and accessible link with Ladurée where luxury is a shared value.

By Inès Arrougé, Eva-Lan Baffert, Morgan Dahmani, Marie Védrenne

#efapmbaluxe #DecodingLuxury #FrenchLuxury

Exclusion vs. exclusivity

From Rive Gauche to Rive Droite, walking through busy luxury areas such as Sèvres-Babylone, Saint Germain, Rue Saint Honoré or Place Vendôme, we met with some locals in order to get a glimpse of what they think and how they perceive luxury in France. To do so, we questioned a few locals from different backgrounds, ages and interests and we found out that Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior are the most anchored luxury brands in the French people’s minds. Whether they were cooks, bloggers or salespeople they all knew these fashion brands and they were the first ones to pop up in their minds. These brands are some of the most visible ones on the streets, television, magazines and on social media. Thanks to exhibitions, Paris Fashion Weeks or even designers such as Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, fashion is the sector most linked to luxury. But it is important to remember that luxury isn’t only defined by fashion, especially in a country with such a big heritage in gastronomy, fine wines and hospitality…

Except the fashion sector, the luxury world is, in fact, very discreet. Luxury likes to hide from the public. The rarer the product is and the more prestigious it is, the better. Therefore, confidentiality has a big role in luxury.

Luxury brands have the will to nourish their exclusive essence. By touching connoisseurs who have a real brand culture. In France, luxury includes an incredible know-how mixed with culture. The industry gathers a huge number of artisans, chefs and creative directors who can link savoir-faire with dream. They are serving our worldwide reputation in terms of craftsmanship. Our history is written throughout the courts of kings, vineyards, Michelin chefs, exceptional palaces…. “Made in France” is the worldwide label meaning quality, refinement and dream. It justifies all prices and excesses. It can easily be seen as an untouchable universe. A confidential and exclusive universe.

Exclusivity can sometimes lead to exclusion; therefore, more and more brands are trying to reach a wider audience while preserving their core target. Through innovation, creation and the element of surprise, luxury brands set their objectives. We noticed collaborations were one of the many actions used by these brands to introduce the audience to their brand. Indeed, we understood thanks to our interviews, that the younger generation tends to be more touched by collaborations, as they feel closer and more involved in the brand’s image. This is also a generation demanding more from luxury brands, not only wanting a product but the whole experience.

Through digital actions, brands have been able to get closer to their audience. People are more engaged, more cultivated and more aware of luxury codes. They can follow fashion shows almost live on the brands website or through their Instagram posts.
Could democratization of luxury be the opportunity for luxury brands to develop their image and expand themselves while preserving their heritage?

By Alexia Toury, Charlotte Waldelof, Elwine Barthelemy, Isabelle Crétat and Samia Boutayeb

#efapmbaluxe #DecodingLuxury

If luxury were a dream…

If luxury were a dream, it would be a poetic dream and you would fall into it as Alice in a luxurious wonderland. It would make you feel as if you were having the best experience of your life, as if you would share a secret only very few knew about. All your senses would expand, every touch, every breath, every taste would be a new experience you will never forget. Every look at a Haute Couture dress would be a crush forever. But more than sensorial experiments, the dream you are in tells you stories. Stories that began in 1837 with Hermes, in 1910 with Coco or in 1946 with Christian. Each one lives in a Maison you ought to discover. You will want to see every single room, search for details that lead you to the roof where stand the gods. Now you are a connoisseur. Now you have earned the right to come back again and feel at home. Now the dream comes to an end. Once you get out, it ends. You have discovered secrets, senses and stories. You have met the gods. Every time you look at others, you know who is in and who is out; who deserves it and who does not; who you can connect with and who seems afar. But be quiet, do not show it, keep it inside. It remains in your heart forever. Congratulations, you are now a luxury sensitive. This is luxury à la française: exclusivity, elegance, refinement and exclusion. It touches you because you appreciate to spend money in a great restaurant, to buy things you do not need just because you will keep it for years. You know the power of appreciation and time. You feel confident about your ability to find great products, with high quality and you like to reward the artisans with a high price. You know where to go because you are in the club, you feel free to express your difference, in real life and on the internet.

The digital world gives you the opportunity to feed the need you have to discover new stories, more details, more secrets and more Maisons. It empowers you with knowledge. Once you have found your haven, put your phone away and prepare to enter the new dream you will be a part of.

« Dreams, feel real while you’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange… » (Dom Cobb, Inception). Luxury itself can be considered a paradox. From the data taken from interviews of fifty Parisians, it appears that the idea of luxury is ambivalent. Is luxury a dream for the ordinary mortal? The most known features linked to luxury are those of beauty, elegance, refinement, exception, history and obviously, the dream. Nonetheless, according to the interviewees, luxury seems to be ostentatious, a way to differentiate yourself, something that is not necessary. People for whom luxury is barely reachable do not care about the experiment but about the image shown to the world.  We could call them « imposters ». They would be the ones who seek recognition, who have something to prove to the world when a luxury sensitive person would be the true luxury clients. According to the interviewees whom we will consider imposters, the experience aspect is crucial but different in its meaning: luxury sensitives look for something unique but intimate, discreet whereas imposters need to show that they are equally inclined to experience something but something exceptional and big. Another aspect that was extracted from the interviews is the tarnished image of luxury. Indeed, when asked about luxury and quality, more than half of the interviewees believe that luxury products are not necessarily of good quality. These features show the two aspects of luxury. On the one hand, the so-called luxury sensitives seek exceptional experiences whereas the imposters want to distinguish themselves, to show-off. It appears relevant to wonder about the longevity of the current luxury Maison. Will they resist to the rise and pressure of imposters leading to the creation of new luxury institutions?


#efapmbaluxe #DecodingLuxury

Walking in their shoes…

Last week I had the wonderful experience to travel to Dubai. It was a school trip with my MBA class. A great experience, no need to say!
We got to discover the wonders of such a modern city, with an outstanding architecture almost defying gravity. Where everything is huge, megalomaniac. A luxury universe created from scratch out of the sand of the desert.
But what is even more amazing is that all this modernity contrasts with a very traditional society in which the local population walks around the trendiest spots wearing traditional clothes. Men in Kanduras and women in Abayas.
Even though they are totally used to having tourists and expats around, (and we are allowed to dress in the « western way »), we can still feel in their eyes a glance of disapproval.
The last time I travelled to the Middle East I was 6 years old, so I definitely didn’t remember how it felt to be looked at in that way!
On my last night in the city, we decided to go for some typical souvenirs and there was I purchasing a typical outfit. I was so excited about it that I decided to walk out all dressed up, from head to toes, as a UAE woman. And yet I could not imagine that I was about to experience one of the most intense anthropological episodes of my life. I completely blended in and from that moment on everything changed.
The ladies looked at me with respect, to foreigners (men) I stopped existing, to local men I started to exist as a respectable person, and in the shops… oh dear, in every single store I was treated as a princess!!! All the sales team was really concerned about every single movement of me. They smiled all the time and kept pampering me. As we stopped in a restaurant to have dinner, the manager himself came over to assist us. We were a group of 8 girls, but his attention was absolutely on me. He was so attentive, and he provided us with the best service we ever had during the whole trip!
Actually, I was starting to believe that being a woman in Dubai had its great advantages after all. That feeling went on until after we had dinner and I went out of the restaurant with one of my friends to smoke a cigarette. I was opening my purse, and I remembered that I was wearing an abaya and I did not recall seeing any local woman smoking!!! Moreover, my passport was at the hotel. So there I was, all stunning in my new clothes, in a super luxurious restaurant, but definitely trapped by UAE’ s women condition!
In that very moment all the glamour was swept away and I could only thank god for being born in a country where women are free to wear what they like…

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