Art Deco and Haute Couture in Paris

Genesis of a Luxury Brand: The intersection of Commerce, Art, Technology and Personality

The DNA of a luxury brand involves heritage, quality, craftsmanship and history. The unique synergy of art, design, literature, theater, film with commerce  happened 100 years ago, in Late 19th and early 20th century Paris where the Luxury Brand was born.  The cross-pollination of the arts, technology and innovation created an exchange of ideas and the birth of trends in 1920s Paris.  21st Century digital media with its ability to mix fashion, furnishings, film, art, photography, design with personalities is essentially the same experience.  The only real difference is that things now move at the speed of light.  The luxury crowd in 1920s Paris embraced the trends without fear.  This demand  required a high quality and craftsmanship of luxury goods we still admire today.   Paris was a city that found itself at the center of a highly artistic and commercial period that literally crowned the world with a variety of  achievements. Chanel, Poiret, Picasso, Diaghalev, Lanvin, Corbusier, Brancusi and many other luminaries of this period were very aware of how they were influencing their times.   This unique synergy between the arts and the media was also a dynamic of the Luxury Brand, its history, traditions and most importantly, its mark of quality we admire today.

Another aspect of this period was the idea that these innovators were in fact “dictators” of luxury and style.  They were the “tastemakers” that had the last word on trends.   This idea, that a “brand” is essentially creating taste and educating the masses was a new idea.  This “style” dictatorship is best expressed today in the Couture Fashion Industry  or the luxury Car Industry.  The same cross-pollination occurs in furnishings, interiors, objects, art and culture that resembles the mad days of Paris in the 1920s.  But a key difference has occurred in the last decade, that has  essentially upset the framework that luxury brands work in;  the rise of digital media has enabled the typical consumer to have extraordinary access to luxury goods and services. This has created an educated, savvy and informed customer who is ready to spend but overwhelmed by ‘choice’.  The client, is no longer a rare and exotic bird sitting alone in its cage, waiting for treats from their keepers.  Now, the gilded cage is available to everyone who can buy in.  So, how does a Luxury Brand create the history and mystery that defines it ?

Luxury advertising has primarily stayed in the channels that it knows best like print media or  the  standalone retail store. But in the last year or so, new digital media campaigns have brought a fresh new set of initiatives to the luxury industry that are allowing the audience to opt in.  This is a powerful way to refresh storied brands who are reaching this new digitally savvy client.  The media is more important than ever in transmitting the same messages of quality and innovation, history or tradition to an audience who is moving at the speed of light.  The major shift in luxury marketing will involve finding unique ways to share its message through various platforms that are new, innovative yet create the same quality as the traditional methods.

We think that the “cult of Personality” should return to the Luxury Brand, making its expression connected and relevant.  This is the only way to bring the “Art” back to the luxury branded experience that is evocative of the past, that time in Paris when a Personality, could move the masses.  

What would Chanel think?  She always said that “Fashion Fades, and Style Endures” so we might imagine that she would have no problem with ordering a lipstick or  fragrance right from her mobile while strolling through the Place Vendome.

The Editor

Our thanks to Ken Kauffman at Baker Furniture, for his informative lecture at the Pacific Design Center on the Rise of Art Deco and Haute Couture in Paris in the 1920s.

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