French Press | Fragrance Fears, Lacroix’s Plans for Schiap, Lancel’s New CEO, Brazilian Luxe

BoF distills recent fashion stories from the French media.

Perfume Factory in Grasse | Source: My Fashion Jar

Bruxelles trouble les parfumeurs (M le magazine du Monde)
Last June, a scientific report commissioned by the European Commission, and directed by British dermatologist Ian White, took the fragrance industry by surprise, especially in France where most of the world’s best-selling perfumes are manufactured. The report advocated the ban of three widely-used ingredients considered to be dangerous for people with allergies. Worried that the EC will eventually act on the report’s recommendations, luxury brands have voiced their concerns, pointing how catastrophic this could be for the small farmer-producers all over the country. Behind closed doors, however, the noses are already brainstorming on how to substitute the ingredients in question. The real challenge will be explaining to customers that the perfumes they love have been changed forever.

Christian Lacroix pour Schiaparelli (L’Express Styles)
Following the announcement that Christian Lacroix will create a one-off Haute Couture collection for Schiaparelli, the French couturier spoke to L’Express about his plans. “I will simply attempt to think about what is the most lively part of Schiaparelli’s heritage. [...] I just hope that I won’t be making too nostalgic a tribute,” he said. Lacroix also explained that he will avoid clichés and the obvious references to Schiaparelli’s famous hats and embroidered pieces, and rather focus on the lesser-known parts of her work. For example, Schiap’ (which was her nickname) was the first designer to use zippers. Lacroix said he will also explore her relationships with the Surrealists like Cocteau and Dali.

Lancel à l’assaut des modeuses (Le Figaro)
Six months ago Lancel (the French accessories company owned by Richemont) brought in Fabrizio Cardinalli, formerly of Dolce & Gabbana, as CEO. Now the brand is starting to reveal its new strategy. “My objective is to elevate Lancel to the levels of Hermès, Goyard and Louis Vuitton,” he explained to Hélène Guillaume, emphasising the French character of the brand, which sells half of its product in its home country, and the historic savoir-faire of the house’s founder, Angèle Lancel, whom he says was using crocodile skins “before [Gabrielle Chanel] was even born.” Cardinalli is also working on a new image for the brand that is more modern, more ‘fashion’. Iconic models will be re-interpreted, twisted, reworked, to be less cluttered and a new communication strategy has started to emerge. Stay tuned.

Le luxe en Terra Brasilis (Les Echos)
With the opening of a new Dior store in the massive 39,000 square foot Sao Paulo luxury mall Shopping Cidade Jardim, Les Echos analysed the market for international luxury brands in Brazil. While enjoying a spectacular 20 percent annual growth rate thanks to the growing number of millionaires in the country, Brazil still only represents 2 to 4 percent of the global luxury market. The main barrier has been the country’s protectionist trade policies: an imported luxury product can be up to 50 percent more expensive in Brazil than it costs abroad, so Brazilians prefer to fly to Miami for their luxury fix. According to the article, 60 percent of luxury purchases are made outside the country. But then why are international brands doing better than expected in such a complex environment? First, many customers don’t want to wait until they travel to get what they want now, and second, after initial hesitation, luxury brands have embraced the staggered payment plans that have been a long-standing part of the retail landscape in Brazil, reportedly used by 75% of the population.