MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Behind the Scenes – Appreciation of the French Luxury Handcraft

By Jessica Wang, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2014-2015, Canada

After an intense and exciting month, the new MBA Luxe class, which I am so privileged to be a part of, has fully immersed itself into the world of luxury. What is luxury? This recurring question, which we were first asked during our admission interviews, has been the most important focus this term and is addressed in each of our Foundations of Luxury courses. To enhance our knowledge and fully appreciate the meaning of this word, our class began an odyssey into the world of luxury experiences.

Our introduction to luxury experiences includes a series of three courses that allow us to gain insight into various sectors of luxury, including oenology, gemology, and the foundations of French luxury handcraft. Our journey began with the discovery of artistic craftsmanship in luxury fashion at the embroidery school École Lesage.

Lesage is an almost century-old house of embroidery and has been the unseen hero behind many Haute Couture brands like Balmain, Balenciaga, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. This magical workshop has brought the most extravagant ideas to life through the skilled hands of its embroiderers; each stitch carries with it a unique heritage. To preserve this craftsmanship and safeguard the future of this unique savoir-faire, Lesage joined Chanel in 2002 as a part of Paraffection.

When we arrived at the legendary Ecole Lesage last Friday, we were greeted by friendly staff and lead into a room that was like a confectionery shop for kids – countless embroidery samples of great detail and intricacy shocked our senses and left us in awe…. And that was only the beginning.

Shortly after, the knowledgeable staff gave us a very informative presentation on the history of embroidery and other craftsmanship, such as feather and lace making, the economy of those companies, and the acquisition by Chanel. We watched with anticipation as the presenter showed us masterpieces that were created for various legendary fashion shows. When we finally went to the workshop, I could confidently say that our appreciation for this trade went above and beyond as we watched the talented embroiderers working their magic on fabrics for the collections that will be shown on the Paris runway the following week.

Finally, we were fortunate enough to get hands-on experience and training from the very best in the maison. Each student made a beautiful piece of embroidery, which we got to take with us as a token to remember this luxury experience. I know I shall treasure mine.

As the day wrapped up, we found answers to some of the questions we had wondered before the visit. Why would anyone still be doing things manually in this post-industrial age? I think it is because the manual process is hard-wired into the DNA of this industry; it is the human touch that sets itself apart from the mass market. Above all, it is the savoir-faire that is at the heart of luxury.