Raphael le Masne de Chermont was made executive chairman of Shanghai Tang, China’s first homegrown luxury fashion brand, by Compagnie Financière Richemont, which invested in the business in 1998. Along with David Tang, founder of Shanghai Tang, Le Masne de Chermont transformed the company from a quirky retailer based on tailoring to a fully-fledged Chinese lifestyle brand. The French media have given him the nickname "le mandarin de luxe."
Richemont sold Hong Kong-based Shanghai Tang in July 2017, to Italian investor Alessandro Bastagli and private equity fund Cassia Investments Ltd, ending its 19-year partnership with the first Chinese luxury brand. Le Masne de Chermont became chairman and partner at equestrian bootmaker Casa Fagliano in September 2018.
The French businessman graduated from the Audencia Nantes School of Management in 1987 with a Masters in management. He then worked for some of the most prominent brands in the Richemont portfolio, like Cartier and Piaget, all over the world, in countries like Belgium and Hong Kong.
Le Masne de Chermont was instrumental in growing the Shanghai Tang's target audience. “When I arrived on the scene in 2002, our job was to make the clothes relevant and wearable. It was very ethnic and party-oriented, so we had to twist it so it could survive beyond this romantic, 1930s Chinese aesthetic established by David [Tang]. We also had to stop going after Westerners exclusively,” he told BoF in 2013.
By 2013, business was balanced between Asia and the Western countries almost exactly. But, with the entry of brands like Shang Xia from Hermès, the brand faced more and more competition from other "Made in China" luxury brands. “Just because they put dragons on something they think it will sell. We tried to cut all the clichés about China from all our product. Everything is toned down. Even our fits are more contemporary,” he explained.