Karl Lagerfeld

Emma Stone, Haim Sisters Appear in Louis Vuitton Campaign

Emma Stone, Haim Sisters Appear in Louis Vuitton Campaign

The Haim sisters — Este, Danielle and Alana — have cemented their relationship with Louis Vuitton by appearing in their first campaign for the French luxury house.
The sibling musicians, who perform as Haim, feature in the brand’s fall 2023 ads, which also star Emma Stone, who has been an ambassador of the house since 2017.

Stone appeared in her first Vuitton campaign in 2018 and has since racked up appearances for the brand, including fragrance and handbag ads.

Her next film, “Poor Things,” is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, although it is unclear whether the Screen Actors Guild strike will be resolved in time for Stone to walk the red carpet.

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Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton’s fall 2023 campaign.

David Sims/Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

David Sims photographed the images, which broke in Harper’s Bazaar France on Wednesday, at the National Archives, a historic building in the Marais district of Paris, and the Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, an 18th century private mansion in the French capital that was formerly home to designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Since attending their first Vuitton show in March 2022, the Haim sisters have developed a strong relationship with Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s artistic director of women’s collections. They wore the brand to events including the Oscars, the BAFTAs and Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards.

“We are huge fans of Nicolas — as a great friend and an incredible designer — so we were so excited when he asked us to be part of this campaign. We saw the show in March which is always an amazing experience but then stepping into the looks, it really felt like becoming characters in his ‘French story’ — feeling empowered by the elegant yet strong designs,” they said in a statement.

The trio are portrayed wearing matching embroidered camisole tops, black pants with split knees and black sandals.

On the red carpet, they often wear different outfits, like at the 2022 Oscars, where Alana Haim donned a mermaid-inspired ivory embroidered Vuitton gown to celebrate her star turn in “Licorice Pizza,” while Danielle and Este selected black and blue gowns, respectively.

The sisters have had an upward trajectory since the release of their acclaimed debut album, “Days Are Gone,” in 2013. Their album “Women in Music Pt. III” received a nomination for Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

They have forged strong links with the fashion industry, wearing looks from the likes of Chloé and Dior, and collaborating with Los Angeles-based clothing brand Reformation in 2016 on a New Year’s Eve collection. A dedicated website, @whatwouldhaimwear, tracks their outfit choices.

On Karl Lagerfeld’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Retrospective, and His Elusive Personal Life

On Karl Lagerfeld’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Retrospective, and His Elusive Personal Life

While Karl Lagerfeld’s illustrious career is celebrated at a retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, his personal life remains as elusive as ever.
Brise dress from fall 1983 collection, Chloé. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
Much of the craze surrounding the recent Met Gala – an annual fundraiser for The Metropolitan Costume Institute – was for its glittering red carpet roll out on the first Monday of May. Inside, however, the real celebration was in honor of the exhibition displaying more than 200 of Karl Lagerfeld’s works. Running through to July 16, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty is the title of the annual Costume Institute fashion showcase at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is presented as an exploration of the late designer’s “aesthetic vocabulary.”
A portrait of Karl Lagerfeld by Annie Leibovitz
Veering away from the structure of a chronological retrospective, the exhibition favors a thematic look at the late designer’s career. The vignettes throughout the exhibit on are governed by “through lines” that represent Lagerfeld’s sketches, a focal point that helps frame the exhibit. The serpentine line – think of how the letter “s” is shaped – and the straight-line signal romantic and decorative impulses against those of a modernist with minimalist tendencies. The two concepts are juxtaposed throughout the exhibit, appearing as a tension between the feminine and masculine, the rococo and classical, historical and futuristic, and so on.
Chloé Rachmaninoff dress, SS1973
The themes represent the dichotomous nature of Lagerfeld’s work. They also reveal how his own fixation on an idea could be carried from house to house while maintaining a brand’s respective codes – and also infusing his own sensibilities. It’s a difficult hat trick, one that relies on a designer’s understanding of himself and ability to ignore the trends of the day. It makes sense, given Lagerfeld’s own proclamation that “trendy is the last stage before tacky.” This also lends itself to a timeless quality that many of the ensembles presented in the exhibition share. His range is highlighted in the shoot accompanying this feature, with key looks from his years at the houses of Chanel, Fendi, and Chloé.
Chanel coat
“In Roman mythology, a straight line entwined by a serpentine line symbolizes Mercury, the god of commerce and communication,” said Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute, during remarks at a preview of the exhibit. “Known as the ‘caduceus,’ the insignia could not be more appropriate for Karl, who, in many ways, was the modern incarnation of Mercury,” he furthered. Godly? Perhaps not by virtue, but in a world-building sense – any Chanel fashion show in the last decade would support that idea.
FW2017/18 haute couture; a Fendi FW2000–2001 coat sketch
Among the works displayed are a sumptuous, if not dizzying array of ready-to-wear and couture dresses, coats, and ensembles revealing Lagerfeld’s predilection for the Schlemmerian silhouette. This reflects the portrayal of women’s bodies according to Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer – strong shoulders, a tight waist, and wider hips define the looks.
The Military Line of Lagerfeld’s work
To some, Lagerfeld’s work could have been considered a radical affront – not to the modern consumer, perhaps, but to someone like Gabrielle Chanel, who famously hated women’s knee caps, making Lagerfeld’s shortening of the traditional Chanel tweed into a miniskirt a sacrilegious move against the maison’s namesake. Or, for Fendi, where Lagerfeld executed on the radical notion that precious furs – mink, as is seen throughout much of the exhibit – could be shaved into small flowers, rather than donned as a stole or a full coat. The effect is one that leaves the visitor in awe of the technical prowess. Lagerfeld’s premières, or seamstresses, who are acknowledged in the exhibit, are also to thank, for turning his all-important sketches into reality.
The Blanche table featuring reproductions of his sketches, the Masculine Line
Lagerfeld, who was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1933, did not receive a formal fashion education or enroll in art school. He did enter an international fashion competition, now the Woolmark Prize, for which he won in the coat category. He then worked at Balmain, and Jean Patou. All of this happened by the 1960s, at which point he began freelance design work for Chloé as well as his tenure at Fendi, helping to transform the Italian label into what it is today. By 1982, he exchanged Chloé for Chanel. In turning the role of designer into a brand name itself, he helped pave the way for later talent, including people like Tom Ford or even arguably Kanye West.
Cape, dress, from spring 2010 haute couture, Chanel. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
Beyond these résumé points, almost nothing about Lagerfeld’s own life makes it to the exhibit. “We didn’t want to emphasize ‘Karl the man,’ who has long been the subject of breathless mythologizing and hagiography, largely as a result of his own audacious self invention and penchant for controversy,” Bolton said. “Rather, we wanted to focus on ‘Karl the designer’ – his works – and to isolate a critical aspect of his design process that made him unique among his peers – namely, his practice of sketching.”
Trompe l’oeil Crétoise dress from spring 1984 collection, Chloé. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
While it may not be a detailing of who he was, there are parts of the exhibit that highlight what Lagerfeld wanted people to see him as: a character or caricature, as he called it, of himself. Adorned in Chrome Hearts silver jewelry, his hair powdered and pulled back, sunglasses reliably covering his eyes, his uniform lent itself to an image that transcends the idea of personhood altogether. In some ways, it leaves him somewhat shielded from criticism, in the same way one might find it difficult to criticize a cartoon. There’s a reason his likeness made its way to Barbie and Kokeshi dolls.
Organza and gazar haute couture dress from spring 2013, Chanel. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
As with every May Met Gala, this retrospective of Lagerfeld’s work necessitated that guests dress to code. The visionary’s 65-year career in fashion at the helms of Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and his own eponymous brand offered a vast catalog of work coupled with an enigmatic presence. Contemporary designers like Thom Browne and Pierpaolo Piccioli reinterpreted the designer’s codes, mostly in Chanel’s image: tweed, boucle, and pearls abound.
Tweed skirt suit from spring 1995 haute couture collection, Chanel. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
Meanwhile, Lagerfeld’s own image served as the inspiration (or imitation) for many of the guests. Wearing Gucci, A$AP Rocky recreated a look – black suit jacket, white collared shirt, a skinny black tie, and a red tartan skirt – Lagerfeld wore to a 2004 Chanel runway show in Tokyo. Alongside the rapper, Rihanna wore a coat enveloping her in giant camellias, Chanel’s signature flower. Others opted to emulate Choupette, Lagerfeld’s beloved Birman cat. Singer Doja Cat wore an Oscar de la Renta gown and feline prosthetics, while Jared Leto opted for a full cat costume resembling the likes of a character at an amusement park. “A sense of humor and a little lack of respect: that’s what you need to make a legend survive,” Lagerfeld once said. Or, a little separation between the man and his work.
Haute fourrure cape from spring 2016, Fendi. Photo: Rafael Pavarotti
Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia
Style: Amanda HarlechHair: Eugene Souleiman, Soichi InagakiMakeup: Ana TakahashiProduction: Prodn, Ragi Dholakia ProductionsSet design: Ibby Njoya 
Read Next: Anna Wintour on Karl Lagerfeld’s MET Retrospective: “A Tribute to Karl Feels Like a Tribute to Life Itself”

Anna Wintour on Karl Lagerfeld’s MET Retrospective: “A Tribute to Karl Feels Like a Tribute to Life Itself”

Anna Wintour on Karl Lagerfeld’s MET Retrospective: “A Tribute to Karl Feels Like a Tribute to Life Itself”

Wintour with Lagerfeld at the drive-in theater Chanel staged in Dallas, 2013. Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Martensen
Karl Lagerfeld was many things: a friend, a consummate artist, a paradox. He was a designer who thrived on attention but also led an intensely private life. He was a well-read intellectual who adored the heady lights of popular culture. His desk heaved with books and paper, but he always had the latest technology at his fingertips. And he, of course, declared that fashion didn’t belong in a museum—it should look ahead, not be consigned to history. But here he is with a retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
I’m at peace with the small role I’ve played in this last contradiction because I know he would have loved being recognized—and there’s simply no one more deserving. All credit goes to Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s brilliant curator who has titled the new exhibition “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” an allusion to the painter William Hogarth, who believed that an ever-turning, ever-changing line captures more energy and life than a straight one. I can’t imagine a better metaphor for the revolutionary effect Karl had on fashion.
A life lived as Karl’s was—gloriously, restlessly, always in public, and full of fascinating twists, turns, and transformations—warrants a celebration, and that is what we’ve organized here. Vogue is looking back at Karl’s history, at his work for Chanel, Chloé, Fendi, and his own label. Rafael Pavarotti took the stunning photographs of these designs, with Karl’s friend, muse, and collaborator Amanda Harlech by his side as fashion editor. To accompany them Amanda has written a magical remembrance of Karl that returns him to me in vivid detail—an act of memory for which I couldn’t be more grateful.
Backwards and forwards at once: That was Karl’s restless way. And so a second celebratory portfolio casts his legacy into the future. This was quite a project, one with a complexity and ambition that Karl would have approved of. We asked 10 designers to create looks inspired by him, and then we brought their incredible creations to the Grand Palais in Paris—a site where Karl showed his Chanel collections time and again, but one that happens to be under significant renovation. Nevertheless, Annie Leibovitz, along with fashion editor Alex Harrington, and models such as Shalom Harlow, Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, and more came together—hard hats required!—to be surrounded by scaffolding and Beaux Arts splendor. In the resulting images Annie captured something so very Karl: unforgettable fashion, high drama, a sense of the past and the future colliding. Her pictures have cinematic scale but also an intimacy that I can’t help but be moved by. For these are models and designers (and one very famous cat) who knew Karl, many as well as anyone did, who benefited from his friendship, his mentorship, his joy and curiosity, his impatient interest in the world around him. A tribute to Karl feels like a tribute to life itself, a celebration in its purest form. We all miss him so very much.
Originally Published in Vogue.com.
Read Next: Vogue Pays Tribute to Karl Lagerfeld

Vogue Pays Tribute to Karl Lagerfeld

Vogue Pays Tribute to Karl Lagerfeld

Ten models, ten looks, one famous cat. At Paris’s Grand Palais, ten designers cast Lagerfeld’s legacy into the future.

Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino
Worn by Anok Yai. Special thanks to the Réunion des musées nationaux–Grand Palais. The restoration of the Grand Palais has been made possible by the generous support of Chanel.
Karl and I met in the early ’90s at Fendi—it was like a star coming to the office. In a way, he brought the news from the world—talking to us about things like how the new beauty is ugliness. These manifestos were absolutely sharp, and delivered without any doubts. I also learned from Karl not to take anything for granted. You can work with everything. You can create with everything. I was always very impressed by Karl’s research into modernity. He was obsessed with modernity—this idea of depicting what was contemporary. He was never nostalgic. The look I created is a melting pot of his words, the modernity, and the sharpness of his look.—P.P.
Thom Browne
Worn by Shalom Harlow on the grand staircase of the Grand Palais.
Karl loved [the iconic Paris boutique] Colette, and my label was sold there. He bought a gray suit, crystal briefcase, blanket, and shirt and tie, and he took a picture of himself in them and sent it to me. I have it in my office—it’s very special to me. Over the years Karl became a personality, but it’s because of the work he did, the decades of creating. His work was the perfect combination of beautiful design and beautiful craftsmanship; the quality matched the conceptual ideas. His genius came from knowing who he was designing for. I loved his use of shape: molded shoulders, and proportions that were unique, maybe avant-garde for a lot of people—so I wanted to play with that idea, and with the fabrications of the house of Chanel.—T.B.
Browne’s homage to Lagerfeld.
Donatella Versace
Worn by Kendall Jenner.
Karl was a very good friend of Gianni’s—they really liked each other, and respected each other. Gianni wasn’t the kind of person with many friends, and Karl not so much either, but they connected. I kept saying to Gianni, “Please—I want to meet him.” So he took me to Karl’s house one night, and I was mesmerized. He means a lot to designers today—especially me. We like his rebellious spirit. He would put things together that really didn’t make sense, just to show you they could make sense. He didn’t take himself so seriously, but then geniuses never do. It was like every show he did was his first. He also liked to have women around him, to give him strength. Their presence was very important—he wanted to know what women thought of what he was doing.—D.V.
Jun Takahashi, Undercover
Worn by Liu Wen. Philip Treacy hat; philiptreacy.co.uk. Sergio Rossi shoes; farfetch.com. Gucci pearl necklace.
It’s wonderful how Karl managed to achieve so much for so long. When he started reworking Chanel, changing the look bit by bit over the years, it was really fresh—he captured the atmosphere of each passing era and wove it into Chanel’s designs, making them evolve. I’ve tried to reinterpret what Karl did around the time he took charge of Chanel—I wondered what would happen if I attempted what both Karl and Coco had been doing. It’s a quintessential Chanel suit, but there’s something you can’t quite put your finger on—dark pop and punk accents, with the seams exposed or cut into tatters.—J.T.
Christopher John Rogers
Worn by Adut Akech.
I looked at his work for Fendi, which, although very expansive, was always about technique—and I thought about all of the behind-the-scenes construction that went into the house’s couture pieces. That’s at the forefront of what I designed here. It was labor-intensive: There are over 250 pieces of organza, there’s silk faille, there’s an underskirt, a boned corset. One of my favorite collections of Karl’s is Chanel’s fall 2006 haute couture. There was denim, and thigh-high boots, and I think at the time a lot of people were wondering, What is this?! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated his work in the way that it feels like even if it’s not for everyone, it’s always for the customer, and for him. He stands for longevity, authenticity, craft—and having a sense of humor in fashion, regardless of whatever else is going on in the world. He really crafted his own language.—C.J.R.
John Galliano, Maison Margiela
Worn by Natalia Vodianova.
[My first] Chanel show was overwhelming—the adventure, the mischief, the encyclopedic knowledge about fashion of any period, any century. Karl was like an oak tree, by which I mean there was enormous wisdom. And I loved the way he ended each statement with a “non?”—as a question mark, to engage you, to see what your point of view was. You had to be ready for that “non?”! I focused on his obsession with the line during his tenure at Patou. The polka dots are cutouts, ellipses—we projected them onto the look, and they ended up [cut out] wherever the projection hit the surface of the dress. The sequins were a new way of doing embroidery: cutting them out, then dipping them in hot water to make them pliable, then into freezing water so they held their shape. They’re really fun but with—I hope—all the rigors of couture.—J.G.
Olivier Rousteing, Balmain
Worn by Naomi Campbell, who carries Lagerfeld’s beloved Choupette. Makeup for Naomi Campbell, Angloma.
I first met Karl in 2011. “You’re the new Balmain boy?” he asked me. I said yes. “I used to be the Balmain boy—welcome to fashion.” A couple of months later, we sat together at a dinner and chatted. I didn’t want to speak with him about his job, so I asked, “How is life outside work, Karl—you know, outside of Chanel?” And he said: “We don’t ask that question, because work is my life, work is my love.” He has always been my biggest inspiration in life. He didn’t follow fashion—he created fashion, and connected fashion to pop culture. Karl was the pioneer—the king—of all that we’re trying to do today. And he never stopped being curious about life. The look I’ve created is a tribute to him—I looked at what he was doing at Balmain: emphasizing a tiny waist, bigger shoulders, playing with the buttons.—O.R.
Chitose Abe, Sacai
Worn by Amber Valletta. Junya Watanabe boots; shop.doverstreet​market.com.
Karl used to say, “Fashion isn’t art—it’s business.” I’ve always thought about that as I’ve run Sacai. These days a designer’s job isn’t just about designing clothes, and that’s something Karl saw way back when—he was like a fashion cyborg. He was a great designer from the start, but he was also good at fashioning his own image. When you think about Karl, it’s the white shirt, a tie sometimes, and some hard-edged jewelry. I’ve tried to capture that—not to reproduce it, but to hybridize it in the Sacai style and turn it into an elegant dress.—C.A.
Worn by Gigi Hadid.
“My first Chanel show was the women’s march show,” says Gigi Hadid, seen here in Gucci’s tweed jacket embroidered with pearls, jet, and crystals, and a very Karl white collar and black gloves. “The streets of Paris had been built in the Grand Palais, and I was just wide-eyed at the spectacle, the magnitude of the production—I’d never seen anything like that in my life before. Later, I loved the rocket ship show and the Titanic show—the audience saw the runway and the façade of the boat, but not that the entire inside of the boat was set for a party. Karl inspired me by his storytelling—his ability to communicate worlds and bring them to life. He was an icon because he had this genius focus on what was important to him and what
Simone Rocha
Worn by Devon Aoki. Maison Margiela pearl necklace.
He was the first designer to do an H&M collaboration. For me, as a teenager atthat time, that was so iconic. For someone from luxury to be working with thehigh street—that was taboo. But Karl was always unapologetic, and that’s quiterare. He stood behind every decision he made; there was no self-doubt as to whether he was right or wrong. My starting point was to look at his Chloé era, which I was really interested in, because it is a house very known for flou, for being very female-forward. A few pieces in the archive jumped out at me: One was a washed silk dress, very fluid, with lace. I was thinking, How can I bring lace into my world? I brought in some harnessing, a bit of hardness, for some juxtaposition, because that runs through Karl’s work in general. The harness is a bit twisted, but it brings what he did to today.—S.R.
Photography: Annie LeibovitzStyling: Alex HarringtonFashion Editor: Alex HarringtonHair: JawaraMakeup: Fara HomidiSet Design: Mary Howard Studio
Originally Published in Vogue.com
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5 Things to Know About Fendi’s Delfina Delettrez-Inspired Milan Fashion Week A/W 2023 Show

5 Things to Know About Fendi’s Delfina Delettrez-Inspired Milan Fashion Week A/W 2023 Show

Artistic director Kim Jones dedicated his autumn/winter 2023 Fendi collection to a muse: Delfina Delettrez Fendi, a fourth generation member of the family who serves as the house’s creative director for jewellry. Anders Christian Madsen shares five things to know about the collection.

The show set featured a tunnel of lights
Photo: Getty

There was something celestial about the tunnel of laser-like lights Kim Jones projected through Fendi’s mile-long runway room in Milan this season. The house’s Roman relationship between the ancient and the futuristic is an ongoing treat for Jones, a sci-fi fan who revels in analysing and interpreting this instinctive culture of the Fendi family. “Delfina is a muse for me,” he said in a preview, referring to Delfina Delettrez Fendi, who also serves as creative director of jewellery at the house. Once again, he dedicated the collection to her wardrobe. And as his models arrived through the illuminated tunnel – to the opening theme from Twin Peaks – they felt like his Roman sci-fi goddesses.
Kim Jones dedicated the collection to Delfina Delettrez Fendi
Photo: Getty
Jones described Delettrez’s look as a combination between chicness and perversity, a pairing he expressed in twisted classics – literally and figuratively – like knitwear, blazers and pleated skirts. If they had a certain sex appeal, it was amplified by plenty of strict leather pieces, from little dresses to lace-up boots and kilts. “It’s looking at little twisted things that are kind of perverse,” Jones said, gesturing at a trouser with a buckle strapped across its crotch. Asked how he practically approaches the adaptation of the heiress’s clothes, Jones said a visit to her private wardrobe is on the agenda. But so far, “She comes in with stuff, I just steal it.”
The collection drew on details from Fendi’s haute couture
Photo: Getty
Jones imbued his collection with elements from his haute couture: an everyday mac lined in not-so-everyday sequins, or shirting morphed with lace camisoles that nodded to his January show. “It’s really clear Fendi codes and that’s what it’s about. It’s capturing that elegant, chic, sophisticated Fendi woman,” he said. “I’m thinking about the future and looking at the things that work for us, which are tailoring, knitwear and dresses. It’s taking all those elements and putting them into a collection.” Sometimes he code-switched those components, like in dresses constructed in very light tailoring fabrics that contributed to an overall sartorial atmosphere throughout the collection.

Jones took inspiration from a 1996 Karl Lagerfeld dress

Photo: Getty

In May, the Metropolitan Museum in New York will unveil its Karl Lagerfeld spectacular. But while Jones is involved in proceedings, he said his approach to Fendi is becoming more and more family-focused: “The next three collections, there’s not really any Karl in them. It’s there but it’s ever-present. You have to think about the Fendi family. They are the people who really count in the end.” This time, only one archival Lagerfeld dress inspired the collection: a knitted column dress from 1996 with a single stripe down the side. “I thought it was nice to have that line,” Jones explained.
There were two new bags
Photo: Getty
The collection introduced two new bags designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi: a multipurpose bag named, well, Multi, and the handbag C’Mon. “I think what is really nice is the movement of the bag, that it can be two things in one. That duality is very Fendi, as is the idea of something which appears simple but, in reality, is very complex,” she said of the former. As for the latter: “The idea was to create pieces that were very pure in order to match the sophistication of the collection.”

French Event Organizer Françoise Dumas Reflects on Life as ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’

French Event Organizer Françoise Dumas Reflects on Life as ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’

For more than four decades, Françoise Dumas was swept up in a whirl of charity galas, luxury launches and state dinners. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the event organizer’s professional activity came screeching to a halt.
Dumas was at her holiday home in Comporta, Portugal, when the first lockdowns were announced and decided to remain there instead of returning to Paris, France.

The forced break allowed her to take stock and write a book, “Mistress of Ceremonies,” recently published in French by Grasset, in which she recounts the parties she’s planned for luminaries like luxury magnate Bernard Arnault, designer Karl Lagerfeld, Princess Caroline of Monaco and former presidential couple Jacques and Bernadette Chirac.

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Now Dumas is back in action, with events like the annual Société des Amis du Musée d’Orsay gala dinner, but she reckons the world will never be the same again.

“I’m at a turning point in my life, but it’s not just due to my age. I think we’re at a turning point in society too, aren’t we?” she says tentatively over a cappuccino at the Ritz hotel in Paris. “It’s strange, very strange. I really feel like things are completely changing. But I’m not the person to organize Zoom dinners in the metaverse. I prefer living matter.”

Françoise Dumas at the entrance of the Elysée presidential palace in Paris.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas could be forgiven for thinking she’s part of a dying breed. There’s only a handful of great society hostesses left in Paris, including her friend Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Sisley cofounder Countess Isabelle d’Ornano and Hélène David-Weill, all of whom belong to a generation well-versed in the codes of entertaining à la française.

“I wonder if the young generations will be as interested in this traditional art of living,” ponders Dumas, whose book details the arcane rules for hosts and guests, from the court of King Louis XIV to the present day (who knew that a dinner napkin should always be folded in half before being placed on your lap?).  

“I wanted to recall certain rules that I feel are important for a pleasant and courteous life,” she says in her signature affable delivery. “I feel that you can’t just do as you please.”

Dumas has always been drawn to the social whirl. Born in 1939, she spent her early years in the Loire region, largely shielded from the effects of World War II. As a child, she developed a passion for history, through regular visits to the area’s famous castles, and practiced organizing receptions with her doll’s tea set.

The dinner for the opening of the “From the Great Mughals to the Maharajas. Jewels from the Al Thani collection” exhibition.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Her imagination was fueled by fantasies of the great masked balls hosted by the likes of Étienne de Beaumont, Alexis de Redé and Carlos de Beistegui in the 1920s and 1930s. By the time Dumas started working for event organizers in the ‘60s, however, those socialite gatherings were a distant memory, replaced by buzzy film premieres, like the 1962 party for “The Longest Day,” which culminated with a concert by Edith Piaf on the Eiffel Tower.

Dumas wanted in, but as a junior in the office of Georges Cravenne, the man who launched the Césars ceremony, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, she was relegated to the accounts that nobody else wanted: jewelers, perfumers and fashion designers, who at the time were considered minor clients and disparagingly referred to as “suppliers.”

Little did she know that she was laying the foundations for the agency she would go on to found with her business partner Anne Roustang in 1980. Her first fragrance launch was for Valentino in 1978 and took the shape of a gala for Roland Petit’s new ballet for Mikhail Baryshnikov, followed by dinner at Maxim’s.

“I think it was the first time that the launch of a luxury product was tied to a cultural event and it was a great success,” Dumas recalls.

Her meeting with Arnault came to define a large portion of her career, with Dumas helping the head of luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to host events, including the blowout launch of Dior’s Dune fragrance in 1991 at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, and the 1996 Met Gala, which Princess Diana attended in John Galliano’s first haute couture design for the French fashion house.

Françoise Dumas behind Bernard Arnault and Princess Diana at a charity dinner in Paris in 1995.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas says legendary WWD boss John B. Fairchild credited her with burnishing the image of Arnault — whose frenzied acquisition of luxury brands in the 1980s and 1990s earned him the nickname “the wolf in a cashmere coat” — by masterminding the gala events he sponsored for charities headed by former French first lady Claude Pompidou and later Madame Chirac.

“Alongside [Arnault’s] conquering or combative side, there was his patronage and support for social or cultural causes,” she says. “When we started working together, I would always say to him, ‘Monsieur, you want to create the world’s largest luxury group. It would be wonderful to perpetuate this French art of living.’ And that’s what he’s done with his brands.”

Dumas also takes credit for popularizing one of Dior’s bestsellers, the Lady Dior handbag.

“This is a true story,” she announces with a smile, going on to explain that Bernadette Chirac asked her to pick a gift from the Dior boutique for the Princess of Wales, who was expected for tea at the Elysée presidential palace during a 1995 visit to France.

“I had noticed a little bag, which at the time was made of fabric, and so I had it wrapped and sent to the Elysée. I phoned Monsieur Arnault to let him know, and he said, ‘Recall the bag immediately.’ Why? Because he was working on a prototype in leather. He had it finished overnight, and the leather version was sent instead,” she says.

Eventually, the bag was so closely associated with Princess Diana, who was still referred to as Lady Diana in France despite her royal title, that it was renamed in her honor.

While Dumas has always sought the company of the great and the good, she is clear on her position in the ecosystem.

“I found my place as an organizer and as a kind of reference, but I never tried to become a great socialite. That was never my intention,” she explains. “I think of people and always try to give them an instant of beauty and happiness. We always try to create moments that will become special memories. That’s really important.”

Françoise Dumas curtsies for Queen Elizabeth II at a French state dinner in 2004.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Nonetheless, she admits to being star-struck on at least one occasion: the 2004 state dinner where she met the late Queen Elizabeth II.

“I loved Madame Chirac. I was very close to her and we did a lot of events together, and one day I mentioned that I would be thrilled to attend a state dinner. I thought that she might invite me for a president that would draw a smaller crowd. A few days later, she called and said, ‘Would you like to attend the dinner for the Queen of England?’” she recalls.

Dumas and Roustang dressed in their finery and hit the red carpet. “What was very funny is that we were attending as guests, but once inside the Elysée, people were so used to seeing us there as event organizers that they kept asking us for directions,” she says.

She pulls out a folder of glossy photographs, pointing to the shot where she curtsies for the Queen. “Look at her gaze — she looks at you as if she’s known you forever,” Dumas marvels.

From her 12 years of organizing events at the presidential palace she has gained an unparalleled knowledge of diplomatic etiquette, which she combines with an encyclopedic awareness of the ins and outs of Paris society — though don’t expect her to dish any gossip, beyond some amusing anecdotes about narrowly averted seating disasters.

“We’re like a switchboard, so obviously we’re aware of a lot of things that we’re not at liberty to disclose, but if you want a party to succeed and there is a seated dinner, you’ve got to know how to place guests. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” she says. “If you get your seating right, people have a good time.”

Dumas still uses a system of cards — blue for men, pink for women — that she fixes with paper clips, allowing for last-minute reshuffles. “It’s like a battle plan,” she says, dismissing computerized alternatives. “I will never get rid of my cards.”

Françoise Dumas works on seating charts at a Valentino event in Rome.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas, who organized the nuptials of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock in 2011, is used to directing battalions of chefs, waiters, florists and decorators. “Sometimes there are more people behind the scenes than there are guests, so you really have to treat these events like a big film production,” she says.

She lovingly describes her most spectacular events, held in locations including the Château de Versailles, and the Forbidden City in Beijing.

“When you find yourself all alone in the galleries at Versailles, it’s extraordinary. The first time, I stood in front of the portrait of Louis XIV that is in every French child’s history schoolbook. I was enthralled. It was fascinating. The two great joys of my job are the people and the incredible places that belong to you for a few hours,” she says.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, she’s mulling the future of her agency, Françoise Dumas-Anne Roustang & associés. “I’m going through a bout of soul-searching. I would say that I really loved what I did, and I tried to do it to the best of my ability,” she says.

“I compare it to what Chanel is doing with its Métiers d’Art houses. This is like a métier d’art, and maybe this tradition needs to be modernized, but we need to keep it alive,” Dumas continues. “There are very large event production offices now, because the activity has grown over time, but I don’t think anyone has my experience as a hostess.”

In her bedroom, Dumas keeps a photograph of herself as a little girl. She confides: “I often talk to this little girl and I ask her, ‘Are you happy with what you did?’”  

Françoise Dumas

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

How to unpack Karl Lagerfeld’s far-reaching impact on fashion, the luxury business, pop culture and the people close to him?
It takes a village, and more than three years after the German designer’s death, filmmakers, writers, curators and photographers are working furiously to cast light on different facets of his career and personal life.

Coming in the first half of next year: an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute, and a book by former WWD journalist and author William Middleton titled ”Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld.” Next year, French television station Canal+ plans to air a four-part documentary series entitled “Lagerfeld Ambitions.”

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Word has it the BBC is also working on a documentary, and a little further down the road will be a feature film by Jared Leto in collaboration with the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house, with Leto playing the design legend.

Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy and Linda Evangelista backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 show.

Robert Fairer

Next month, British fashion photographer Robert Fairer releases “Karl Lagerfeld Unseen: The Chanel Years,” a hardcover Thames & Hudson tome that captures many ‘90s supermodels; documents the designer’s immense range with the fashion house founder’s brand codes, and demonstrates the family spirit and culture of excellence Lagerfeld inspired and nurtured.

Fairer chose to focus on the “golden years,” from the mid-1990s through to 2006, selecting a little under 300 photos from the tens of thousands he snapped backstage, agog at the splendor of the clothes, the luxurious surroundings and the electrifying atmosphere stoked by having a living design legend tinkering with the looks right up to the last minute, and giving each model an encouraging word.

“It was in his nature to create, create, create every minute of the day,” Fairer marvels in an interview. “You knew you weren’t going to take three pictures of an outfit — more like 15.

“Out of all the designers, he was super approachable, always allowing you to photograph him,” adds Fairer, who has also published books of his behind-the-scenes photos at Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs shows.

Backstage at the fall 2006 Chanel couture show.

At Chanel, Fairer mostly aimed his lens at the sumptuous and varied clothing — and the accessories, which the photographer came to appreciate thanks to the creativity Lagerfeld poured into handbags, jewelry, hats, gloves, shoes, earmuffs, surfboards — you name it.

In his pre-digital days, Fairer would typically bring 15 rolls of film to a show, but a Chanel one would require at least 40 as there was so much to capture.

“Over the years, I developed this sixth sense about what’s about to happen,” he says. “It’s like creating a little scene with the 20 seconds you have.”

Model Alek Wek at Chanel’s spring 2001 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

He also describes a collaborative approach with the models, who usually obliged if he asked for a certain pose or attitude.

Fairer has snapped photos backstage at McQueen shows in waste recycling plants where “you were lucky if the floor was hosed down.”

Chanel shows, by contrast, were “on another level,” the vast backstage area always carpeted, superbly lit, equipped with great caterers, free-flowing Champagne and trays and trays of costume jewelry.

Flicking through the 352-page book, there are glimpses of fashion stars no longer with us: not only Lagerfeld, but also the model Stella Tennant and editor André Leon Talley.

Lady Amanda Harlech and André Leon Talley.

Robert Fairer

Fairer admits some nostalgia, lauding the “powerful aura” of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell’s inimitable walk that can be detected a mile away, and Kate Moss’ punchy personality.

“My photography was always very collaborative,” he explains.

The book also features essays by journalists Natasha Fraser, Sally Singer and Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, plus a foreword by Lady Amanda Harlech, who notes that Fairer captured “the joy, edge and beauty” of the backstage world, which Lagerfeld adored.

Backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

Kim Kardashian Reveals the Rare Fashion Item Daughter North West Will Inherit from Kris Jenner’s Will

Kim Kardashian Reveals the Rare Fashion Item Daughter North West Will Inherit from Kris Jenner’s Will

Photo: Instagram.com/kimkardashian
With a closet full of rare and exclusive clothing and accessories, it’s no surprise that Kim Kardashian will pass some of them on to her four children. However, the beauty mogul and entrepreneur has recently revealed that her oldest daughter, North West will be the future owner of a special Chanel bag as part of matriarch and momager Kris Jenner‘s will.
Appearing on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Kardashian recalled her first shoot with late designer Karl Lagerfeld in 2013, and how her mother Kris Jenner was the center of attention during it. Kardashian shared the anecdote and said how her mother showed up for her debut shoot with Chanel’s then-creative director, dressed head-to-toe in the brand’s vintage collection. “In walks none other than Kris Jenner, decked in head-to-toe vintage Chanel. Like, next level — the boots, the gloves, every accessory she can find, earrings, headband, hat, glasses, fanny pack, bag, backpack,” Kardashian said. “So, he falls in love with her. Doesn’t hardly even acknowledge that I’ve been like, sitting there, it’s all about Kris Jenner.”

The Skims founder shared that she had been excitedly anticipating a previously heard rumor that Lagerfeld gifted people a bag after their first shoot with him and her happiness catapulted after she saw him walk in with a unique crystal, Lego clutch. But to her dismay, Lagerfeld walked right past Kardashian and went over to Jenner, and handed her the bag. “I went into the bathroom, started hysterically crying. And I’m like pregnant, hormonal, flew all the way to Paris for this,” the mother-of-four said speaking of the incident. She also talked about how she hoped to gift the bag to her daughter one day and display it in her room. “I had this whole plan that this was gonna be the bag and it was gonna be displayed in her room. So my mom has a provision in her will that North gets the bag.”
Although Lagerfeld presented the crystal clutch to Jenner, he eventually also gifted Kardashian with her own Chanel bag at the end of another shoot.
Read Next: Pictures: Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Zendaya, and More Attend Beyoncé’s Belated Birthday Party

Top Fashion Books Published in 2022 – So Far

Top Fashion Books Published in 2022 – So Far

Fashion books are favorites among coffee table book collectors, and this year there are already a host of new ones to shop — covering luxury fashion labels from Dior and Fendi to Moschino and Louis Vuitton.In May, Jeremy Scott released a volume titled “Moschino,” about his role as creative director at Moschino through the publishing company Assouline, and in the same month, Dior released a book through Rizzoli publishers titled “Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne,” about its legendary headquarters and atelier in Paris.
Here, WWD lists some of the most notable fashion book titles published so far in 2022. Read on for more.
“Dior by John Galliano”

“Dior by John Galliano”

Assouline Courtesy of Dior

Published in January, this fifth volume in a series of books highlighting Dior’s artistic directors, “Dior by John Galliano” follows the creations of British designer John Galliano, while he helmed the house from 1996 to 2011.

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With striking, large-scale imagery, the book compiles all of Galliano’s creative work at Dior, including photography by Laziz Hamani, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz, and text by Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A student of London’s Central Saint Martins, Galliano successfully launched his namesake brand in 1984, became the creative director of ready-to-wear and haute couture at Givenchy in 1995, and dresser at the National Theater. The designer is credited with combining the art of haute-couture costume with illusion.
Assouline, $195


Assouline Courtesy of Moschino

Designed in collaboration with Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino since 2013, “Moschino,” released in May, is filled with the label’s most special moments, particularly as seen through Scott’s eyes. Written with fashion journalist Alexander Fury, the coffee table book, featuring a silk hardcover, includes images of backstage shows, campaigns, editorials and parties.
Often called the “enfant terrible” of the fashion industry for his rebellious designs, Scott has been credited with revamping the more than 30-year-old Italian fashion label by combining pop-culture references with high fashion.
Assouline, $250
“Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz”

“Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Published in May, “Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz,” pays tribute to late designer Alber Elbaz, best known for reviving Lanvin from 2001 to 2015, who died on April 24, 2021, as a result of COVID-19 complications.
In a memorial show dedicated to the late designer titled “Love Brings Love” on Oct. 5, 2021, 44 designers from France, Japan, Italy and the U.S. designed looks to close out Paris Fashion Week — an event that made history in being the first collaborative memorial fashion show to happen in Paris. Some of Elbaz’s own looks were part of the event as well, produced by his AZ Factory studio and atelier.
This coffee table book is divided into three parts, including pieces written by Elbaz; sketches from the designers and brands who participated in the 2021 memorial show, including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Valentino; and a section of photographs, including completed dresses by Elbaz.
Rizzoli, $65

“Louis Vuitton Manufactures”

“Louis Vuitton Manufacturers”

Assouline Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Taking a bit of a different angle than most fashion coffee table books, “Louis Vuitton Manufactures,” by author, historian and journalist Nicholas Foulkes, features the makers behind the luxury label. With more than 350 illustrations, this book, released in February, is a special issue dedicated to the skilled artisans who make up the ateliers of Louis Vuitton, those in France, Switzerland, Italy and the U.S. The silk cover hardback includes images of the label’s many warehouses, such as their low environmental impact workshop in Beaulieu-sur-Layon, France.
Exclusive images of the making of some of the brand’s most notable pieces, like monogrammed trunks and bags, as well as watches and shoes, are also included.
Assouline, $95
“Brioni: Tailoring Legends”

“Brioni: Tailoring Legends”

Assouline Courtesy of Brioni

Released in February, “Brioni: Tailoring Legends,” showcases the fine craftsmanship of the Italian label Brioni founded in 1945 by master tailors Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savini. The menswear brand debuted the first men’s fashion show in 1952 at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, and has had a global influence on menswear since.
With more than 200 images, this book, written by fashion historian Olivier Saillard, includes original photography of archival garments as well as exclusive materials that celebrate the evolution of the house’s men’s style throughout the decades.
Assouline $195
“Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne”

“Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Released on the fashion house’s 75th anniversary in May, “Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne,” looks at the French fashion house’s rich past through the lens of its headquarters and atelier at 30, Avenue Montaigne in Paris’ high-end Triangle d’Or neighborhood, where the finest haute couture shops are located. The iconic address is a Parisian hotel ​​that Christian Dior handpicked himself in 1946, and has since been the home of his couture collections, beginning, most notably, with his inaugural 1947 fashion show, which marked the New Look era’s debut.
This coffee table book written by Pietro Beccari and published in May features exclusive imagery of Christian Dior working in his design studio, backstage fashion shoes, fitting sessions, archival documents and a portfolio of Dior’s designs.

Rizzoli, $45
“The Joy of Movement”

“The Joy of Movement”

Abrams Courtesy of Fusalp

Released in May, “The Joy of Movement,” outlines the extensive 70-year history of skiwear brand Fusalp. Founded in the Alps of eastern France in 1852, the brand is most known for introducing mountain apparel to the mainstream fashion scene, inspired by both alpine skiing and its French roots.
Authored by 2019 Grand Prix de Littérature Dramatique winner, stage director Mohamed El Khatib, the work includes never-before-seen archival material and firsthand accounts of the figures behind the brand.
Abrams, $35
“Hermès: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth”

“Hermès: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth”


Published by Abrams in May, “Hermès Straight From the Horse’s Mouth,” combines anecdotes, profiles and testimonies from the label’s saddlers, sales assistants, window dressers and gardeners, that tell the story of Hermès since its founding by Thierry Hermès in 1837. To accompany the text, written by Luc Charbin, the 96-page work includes playful illustrations by Parisian illustrator Alice Charbin.
Amazon, $25.49
“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese”

“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese”

Courtesy Rizzoli

“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese,” published in May, follows Fendi’s head of couture and womenswear Kim Jones, and his inspirational connection to the Bloomsbury Set: an early 20th-century group of British authors, scholars and artists including Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.
The book, with text by Jones, serves to reveal the historical connection between the Bloomsbury Set and the Fendi house through enriched photography by Nikolai von Bismarck of landmarks, sites and scenes in Europe, like the Sissinghurst Castle in England, Rome’s Villa Medici and the Villa Borghese in Rome.
Included in the volume are diary entries, letters and excerpts from Bloomsbury members, with artistic photography designed to bring Jones’ creations to life, and imagery of what Rizzoli called his “eternal muses” — Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Demi Moore, among them — bringing things into the present.
Rizzoli, $135
“Street Unicorns”

“Street Unicorns”

Abrams Courtesy of Robbie Quinn

Released in May, “Street Unicorns” by award-winning New York-based photographer Robbie Quinn, includes more than 250 images of the city’s “style rebels and bold expressionists.”

A commercial photographer with a focus on environmental portraits, Quinn, as the coffee table book’s title suggests, calls his fashionable subjects “Street Unicorns” and includes their testimonials, aspirations and perspectives as well as their outfits.
Abrams publishing describes the book as: “A vibrant declaration against ageism, racism, homophobia and all other discriminations, this book is a love letter to those who aren’t afraid to stand out, embrace nonconformity and share who they are with the world.”
 Abrams, $29.99
“Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks”

“Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Published in June, “Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks,” reveals some of the most innovative processes today’s shoe industry uses to design footwear, like 3D printing, to sustainable material innovation, like using “leather” made from mushrooms to soles made from recycled ocean plastics.
Written by Elizabeth Semmelhack, the curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Ontario, Canada, the book features in-depth interviews conducted by Semmelhack with well-known designers, including Iris Van Herpen, Steven Smith and the team at virtual shoe company RTFKT, among others. This 224-page collection of footwear innovation is designed to inspire the creative processes for the future of shoes.
Rizzoli, $55
“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion”

“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion”


“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion,” published in February, delves deep into the life of the late and legendary designer, perhaps best known for leading creative direction at Chanel, though even before that he lent his creativity to Fendi and Chloé. And, of course, he had his own namesake label.
Lagerfeld, who died at 85 years old in February 2019, served as the creative director of Chanel from 1983 up until his death and launched Karl Lagerfeld the label in 1984, which he also operated through the end of his life. Written by German editor Alfons Kaiser, a close friend of Lagerfeld, the biography encompasses all eras of the designer’s life, from his adolescence in the “North German flatlands” to his adulthood as the “disciplined Prussian workaholic.”
Abrams publishing said this about the biography: “Drawing from many previously untapped sources, this biography investigates the man behind the persona: the precocious boy who preferred to draw in the attic than play with his peers; the son who quarreled with his parents but never got away from them; Yves Saint Laurent’s competitor, whom he outshone in the end; the brother, uncle, friend — and finally the partner of Jacques de Bascher, the great love of his life.”

Abrams, $30

Montblanc Built a Temple to Handwriting in Hamburg

Montblanc Built a Temple to Handwriting in Hamburg

HAMBURG, Germany — “Dear Miss Roose, Thank you for your invitation.”So begins a longwinded negative RSVP handwritten on flowery paper by the late Karl Lagerfeld, displayed at the new Montblanc Haus, which blends elements of a museum, art gallery, hall of fame and school — adding up to a unique destination.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Óscar Isaac and Dree Hemingway were among VIPs who descended on Hamburg Tuesday to christen the new building, which resembles a giant artist’s charcoal stick etched with a mountain scape and stamped with the German brand’s famous snowcap emblem. (The building’s design is actually an homage to historic pen packaging.)
Located next to Montblanc’s headquarters, and production facilities for its precious resin writing instruments and hand-ground gold nibs, the three-story structure also boasts a café, exhibition spaces, writing ateliers, an archive and academy.

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It’s the latest “immersive brand experience” served up by Europe’s big luxury brands, which are adding cultural and hospitality elements to their flagship projects — though Montblanc acknowledges that its new “house” on the fringes of Hamburg is more of a museum and gallery than a store, and will initially be open on weekdays only.

A pen with a dragon motif on display at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.

So far, only groups of students have visited the permanent exhibitions, trying their hand at calligraphy and watching short films about the value of writing.
On Tuesday evening, editors, influencers and local dignitaries streamed through the sleek, 39,000-square-foot facility, gawking at diamond-studded “High Artistry” pens, Art Deco-style advertising posters, and examples of client penmanship from around the world.
“It’s about celebrating writing,” Montblanc chief executive officer Nicolas Baretzki said in an interview, describing the monumental mobile made of paper hanging near the entrance, and the squishy, ink-like lettering on walls that underscore the theme. “We want people to understand why handwriting is important; what are all the philosophical and cultural ideas behind writing?
“If people leave with some excitement and inspiration, I believe we have done the right job,” he added.
Montblanc Haus arrives at a time when the Richemont-owned luxury brand is navigating a spike in demand for its pricy pens, with its Limited Edition range currently out of stock, and a recent tie-up with Ferrari selling out “in a few days,” Baretzki said.
While he declined to give precise figures, he said, “we are definitely over pre-COVID-19 figures and the big challenge these days is producing enough to meet demand.”
The executive said Montblanc Haus was plunked deliberately in front of three buildings housing about 1,000 artisans who craft the brand’s pens, some nibs requiring 35 hand-hewn steps. Tours of the facilities, until now upon demand, will now be offered more widely as Montblanc seeks to fan interest in its most emblematic product, and using it to “leave a mark” on the world.
“I see it as a means to maximize our handprint,” the CEO said with a grin, deliberately sidestepping the word footprint to exalt the flourish of a penned word.

Varieties of handwriting and some sketches adorn the walls of Montblanc Haus.

About 400 exceptional writing instruments are on display in the new facility, representing about a tenth of Montblanc’s stash, along with the multiple component parts.

Baretzki noted that historic writing instruments have been a formidable font of inspiration for Montblanc’s artistic director, Marco Tomasetta, who arrived last year. Among Tomasetta’s new leather goods designs is a weekend bag in a shiny leather reminiscent of its iconic Meisterstück fountain pen, with zipper pulls and handle tabs shaped like nibs.
“More and more, we try to talk about Montblanc and not just isolated categories,” he said. “It’s a lot about brand themes about brand expression.”
Next up for Montblanc is an event in Paris on June 22 during Men’s Fashion Week to unveil a new theme and a new collection by Tomasetta.
In a separate interview, Vincent Montalescot, executive vice president of marketing, said the new facility was five years in the making, with teams “digging deeply in the archives.”
He noted that brand discovery emporiums are more common in consumer products industries, mentioning the likes of Lindt’s Home of Chocolate in Kilchberg, Switzerland or the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. Sites that offered the Montblanc teams some luxury inspiration included the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and the L’École, School of Jewelry Arts supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, which, like Montblanc, is controlled by Compagnie Financière Richemont. But the archives informed everything from the architecture to the sleek and glossy furnishings in black and white.
While Montblanc Haus charts the company’s 116 years of history and exalts its savoir-faire, it has a broader goal of inspiring writing, and harnessing the creativity sparked when pen hits paper, Montalescot explained.
Displays and experiences are also meant to engage a wide range of audiences, from children to serious pen geeks.

An immersive digital installation at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.

“A collector, someone really passionate about writing and Montblanc, will find amazing pieces and a kid will be inspired by the different opportunities to touch, to feel and to discover an environment and the power of writing,” Montalescot said.
Visitors can write postcards with Montblanc pens, sign up for creative writing classes and read handwritten notes from famous figures. Montalescot said the facility is meant to inspire visitors, and also invite them to “pause and reflect.”

Exhibitions blend high-tech and old-school elements. Visitors can step into a round room resembling a slice of a Montblanc pen and be surrounded by dazzling digital projections, while VIPs and VICs will be ferried into a “secret room” where they don white gloves and can inspect rare writing instruments.
“They both bring unique emotions,” he noted with a smile.
Montalescot said the archives shelter not only treasures from the past, but also possible roadmaps for the future. To wit: Having discovered autographs by writers such as Voltaire, Agatha Christie, Thomas Mann and Ernest Hemingway in storage, Montblanc decided to shift investments from contemporary art into rare signatures by the likes of Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Reinhold Messner and Spike Lee, who appeared in a global Montblanc campaign in 2020.

Autographs by The Beatles are on display at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.

Asked how many visitors Montblanc Haus might welcome in its first year, Montelescot shrugged, describing the business model as a “work in progress” and efforts to publicize the facility in its early stages, with Tuesday’s inauguration event the big kickoff.
However, the brand is mulling plans to “digitize the experience” and export elements to other Montblanc stores and perhaps pop-up installations. In 2024, the company will mark the centenary for the Meisterstück, its most iconic pen.
Alexa Schilz, director of brand heritage and sustainability at Montblanc, said she engaged two museologists to help contextualize and curate the archives, which include a treasure trove of advertising campaigns from 1922 through to the 1970s. These images document how fountain pens facilitated business travel — no ink well to balance on a bumpy train — and how Montblanc used the language and methods of fashion early, creating a collection of pens around 1907 that were given a fancy French name, “Rouge et Noir.”
“They saw the value in bringing something chic to the market,” Schilz said.
Writing samples on display in the exhibition areas include a small leather book containing the autographs of all members of The Beatles, and more prosaic exchanges, including notes from Italian architect and furniture designer Gio Ponti and his carpenters.
The boutique at Montblanc Haus mainly showcases writing instruments, some leather goods, a tiny selection of watches and personalized stationery, Schilz noted.

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