A Formula for Success: A Leadership Duo

from Luxury Talent Management, Part 1

The paradox of a luxury brand is that it needs to engender a strong emotional link with its customers,while at the same time being managed as a very complex business. Business complexities include ensuring the right gross margins, purchasing raw materials at the right prices, choosing distribution channels carefully, opening stores in the best locations of major world cities with outstanding designs and fixtures and heavy inventories– and dealing with the huge investment required.

For a business to be successful, one therefore needs a creator who is in the limelight and a manager workingto make it a commercialsuccess. Who,then,is more important? This is is where things get tricky. The manager must be able to run the show, but he must remain behind the scene.

Creator and manager therefore need for very strong relationship based on mutual trust and the understanding that the two rolesmust be played in harmony.

Creators create the products anddevelop their vision of the world (or what a woman is… or what beauty is about…) but can acreator also bebusiness wise? Could acreator develop a business by him/herself? That was clearly the case before the 60’s: Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Charles Christofle, Charles Lewis Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, at different periods in time, managed their companiesdirectly.

But going global and developing a brand necessitates different competencies and skills. Successful brands have seen the emergence of a new leadership duo -that of creator and businessman -which unites left brain management skills and right brain creative skills as listed in the following graph.

This model is transnational: we’ve seen it in the USA with Calvin Klein and Barry Schwartz at Calvin Klein;in the UK, with Angel Ahrendt and Christopher Bailey at Burberry; in France with Marc Jacobs and Yves Carcelles at Louis Vuitton;in Italy with Miuccia Prada and Patricio Bertelli for Prada, and the mythic duo, Tom Ford and DomenicoDeSole at Gucci.


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