• Condé Nast International Luxury Conference 2015

Condé Nast International Luxury Conference 2015


The Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, welcomed delegates from 36 different nationalities to the inaugural Condé Nast International Luxury Conference 2015 in association with Swarovski and Place Vendôme Qatar. Held in the Salone dei Cinquecento, part of the Palazzo Vecchio, Suzy Menkes, International Vogue Editor, was handed the keys to the City by the Mayor, in recognition of her continued services to the fashion industry, and for the passion Menkes shows towards the City.



Opening the inaugural event Jony Ive and Marc Newson discussed their goal to make the most beautiful products possible, while ensuring they are consistent by investing care and attention. Discussing the fact both grew up surrounded by traditional craft, this was credited as the reason why they love the skill it takes to put something together. Regarding the Apple Watch, rather than being in competition with the traditional luxury watch marques, Jony and Marc spoke of their focus on developing a beautiful and useful product, with the wrist such a fabulous place for technology, so their motivation was different. The reason they chose one of the materials – the gold – wasn’t due to a predisposed price point, but selected simply because they loved it. Rather than buying it off the shelf, they developed their own gold, which is harder-wearing than traditional gold. Newson remarked he and Jony were at the beginning of a very long journey that will evolve in ways as yet unpredictable. Jony Ive discussed the path they are on in order to make technology approachable, relevant and personal, and if the customer feels ostracized in using the technology, then they would feel they’ve failed. Their intent is to try and take what is remarkable technology and to make it more personal. The fact remains that the Apple Watch will be able to offer things in six months time that can’t be imagined now.



Karl Lagerfeld spoke of his career, commenting it’s a very healthy thing to live in a high speed professional life, while ensuring you take a moment to concentrate on your work. Lagerfeld stressed one should take no credit for past, there are no second options – you have to think first before making the decision – and to never look back. “I’m not vintage myself,” Lagerfeld said, preferring not to take inspiration from his past, never sourcing from archives, adding “I don’t even know where they are.” Lagerfeld also noted that in the past designers wanted to be socially acceptable, while now they want to be artists. Citing fashion as an applied art designers should not be pretentious, thinking of their work as art, rather creating pieces people want to wear. When asked about working across brands, Lagerfeld commented Fendi was his vision of Italian, while Chanel his vision of French fashion.



Tory Burch, Chairman, CEO and Designer, talked of the need to ensure the customer has a seamless experience, and technology has a big hand in that, in terms of what the customer wants for the future. 



David Lauren, Executive Vice President of Global Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communication, Ralph Lauren Corporation, opened the second day of the inaugural Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in association with Swarovski and Place Vendôme Qatar, discussing how the brand is embracing technology, connecting with new and existing consumers. “Ralph Lauren is about a dream and a vision”, Lauren commented, explaining why the brand has stayed strong for more than fifty years. Lauren spoke of ‘merchantaintment’ (merchandising and entertainment) – a philosophy helping the brand establish itself in the new digital age by merging technology, fashion and art. Through the introduction of the Polo Tech shirt last year at the US Open, the brand realized that as technology is something that affects our daily lives then it is also applicable in the fashion world.



Alber Elbaz, Artistic Director of Lanvin, asked whether computers could ever replace the creative mind of a fashion designer. Elbaz commented, “fashion is getting softer and softer, but we are not yet a software industry.” Remarking on the location of this year’s Conference, “Florence is the symbol of classicism and art. Florence is about tradition, it is the city of artisanal handwork, know-how and made with love. Florence is about taking the time, making the time and giving the time. Florence is about family business. Technology on the other hand is about new innovation, next is now, repeatedly.”  Elbaz remarked that he doesn’t believe computers will be able to replace designers, as the creative process starts with intuition, and “computers have a brain but no heart”.


Iris Van Herpen, a designer leading her field spoke of creating future style from the laboratory and cyber space. Van Herpen collaborates with artists, scientists and biologists to ‘grow clothes literally’ working together to move in to areas that she otherwise couldn’t enter alone.  In conversation with Sophie Hackford, they noted technology will provide a whole new range of tools and materials for craftsmanship, rather than replace it.


In a keynote session, Antoine Arnault, CEO of Berluti, referred to that fact that a few years ago a technology company opening a luxury conference would have appeared strange, yet as with other sectors, the luxury industry is being reshaped as world of luxury and technology merges, a co-existence only just beginning. Arnault compared the relationship built with customers via digital as akin to that relationship of the atelier and the customer 100 years ago. However, stores will remain the most critical element of the customer purchase journey. Elements of timelessness will prevail; in 20 years from now people will still drink Dom Perignon, but will they still have iPhones or will there be another product that has taken its place?


Nadja Swarovski spoke of the Swarovski 120th anniversary, talking of the changes to the industry over this period of time, the varied creative collaborations the company undertakes with the fashion industry and their sustainable initiatives.


Angelica Cheung, Editorial Director of Vogue China spoke of how technology connects with luxury, and how consumers in China are becoming increasingly sophisticated and educated.  Cheung remarked that with greater competition, designers and brands need to ask themselves who they are and what niche they are trying to cater to in order to reach the multi-layered base that makes up the modern Chinese consumer, in the same way that Vogue China has developed expertise and experience in translating international culture and tailoring it to Chinese style. And for the future? Cheung commented “China will continue to grow, to change and evolve at a fast space...the sheer size and scale of China is still worth reiterating”.


Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, President of Chloé, together with Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director of Chloé, discussed how the brand is using technology to better connect with its customers. De la Bourdonnaye discussed who the ‘Chloé girl’ is today, commenting that their “mission is to unleash the power of the woman”.  Waight Keller noted the importance of the digital world in the way they communicate with their customers, and that they are trying to create more personal and emotional digital campaigns.




  • Other speakers included:

    Frédéric Cumenal, CEO of Tiffany & Co;

    Michele Norsa, CEO and Group Managing Director, Salvatore Ferragamo;

    Sophie Hackford, Director of Wired Consulting;

    Axel Dumas, CEO, Hermes;

    Albert Bensoussan, CEO Luxury Watches and Jewellery, Kering;

    Delfina Delatrez Fendi, Founder, Delfina Delettrez;

    Eugenie Niarchos, Founder and Creative Director, Venyx;

    Gaia Repossi, Creative Director, Repossi;

    Caterina Occho, Founder, SeeMe;

    Nicholas Bos, President & CEO, Van Cleef & Arpels.

    Isabelle Harvie-Watt, Global CEO, Havas LuxHub and CEO of Havas Media Group Italy;

    Francesco Bottigliero, CEO, Fiera Digitale and e-Pitti.com;

    Reginald Brack, Senior Vice President, International Head of Retail, Watches, Christies;

    Jeremy Scott, Founder, Jeremy Scott and Creative Director, Moschino;

    Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Editor-at-Large, Vogue Japan;

    J W Anderson, Founder, J W Anderson and Creative Director, Loewe;

    Leonardo Ferragamo, Director, Salvatore Ferragamo;

    Stefania Ricci, Director, Salvatore Ferragamo;

    Laudomia Pucci, CEO, Emilio Pucci;

    Eugenio Alphandery, President and Co-Ownder, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella;

    Ermanno Scervino, Founder and Creative Director, Ermanno Scervino;

    Sung-Joo Kim, Chief Visionary Officer, MCM.