Jacques Carles is president and founder of the Centre du luxe et de la création. In this interview, he talks about the Luxury Summit event, the challenges facing the luxury industry and its evolution. Interview.
Luxusplus: How would you define the soul of luxury and creation, and why did you choose this theme for this year’s Sommet du luxe et de la création?
Jacques Carles: If our relationship with luxury is evolving, won’t our attachment to the object, in a society in search of meaning and ethics, be even more closely linked to the extra soul that emanates from it in the years to come? Through this subject, I wanted to put forward the idea that the soul, which may have a different meaning depending on the culture or territory, remains the vital and spiritual principle of a transcendental nature that animates the body of a living being and, by extension, all creation. Behind this subject lie all the questions that designers are asking themselves about the evolution of their professions in a context of strong growth in the luxury economy, societal and geopolitical upheavals, but also the increasingly obvious presence of AI, a subject that will be addressed during the Summit.
Under what conditions, then, will luxury, which is embodied in cult objects, immemorial know-how, excellence and beauty, manage to perpetuate the soul that has animated it for centuries? I’m looking forward to discussing these questions with those involved in the luxury industry, and in particular with Alberto Cavalli, who heads the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’arte and the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship.
Luxusplus: Why is this theme important for the luxury industry, and more specifically for brands?
JC: The commitment of luxury brands to the transmission and preservation of traditional craftsmanship proves that the soul of luxury still guides their development strategies. To go a step further, I’d like to quote Bernadette Dodane, President of CRISTEL, who, on receiving the “Messe Frankfurt” prize awarded by the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques on December 12, 2022, stated that “Economic performance is a consequence of moral and political human commitment“. I regularly meet men and women whose hearts and bodies are filled with the desire and talent to transmit the soul of luxury through the development of their businesses. At a time when the concept of work can sometimes be called into question, it’s important to remember that the exceptional gesture remains more than ever a source of dreams. Is it because there’s a shortage of hands to shape luxury objects? My wish is that the alliance between tradition and novelty will consolidate the soul of luxury that inhabits the talent of designers.
Luxusplus: Can the luxury industry meet today’s challenges, such as sustainability and social responsibility, while preserving the soul and essence of luxury and creation?
JC: Emilie Metge, President of Christofle, often reminds us that “Luxury is what transmits. These are products for life. So eco-responsibility through the longevity of objects is in the DNA of tableware in particular. In light of the houses and designers who have been entering the Talents du luxe et de la création competition for several years now, I’m fully convinced of this. Awareness is real. It’s even a great source of creation. On June 15, at the Luxury Summit, you’ll be able to discover some of the finest companies nestled deep in the Burgundy Franche Comté region, such as La Maison Dumas, Cristel, Coucoo and RKF Luxury Linen, who demonstrate not only genuine commitment, but also innovation in combining CSR, excellence and performance. From product design to the search for eco-responsible materials, from the production process to recycling, many of these companies deploy a treasure trove of innovation.
Another example, which I’ll be presenting on June 15, is Dijon-based Cogitech, which took up the challenge of creating the Trophée des Talents using recycled materials to give them new life, beauty and, why not, a soul. Time will tell. While companies have their share of responsibility, consumers are also involved in their purchases, which raises the question of price. As Julien Tuffery likes to point out, if the price included the human cost and the cost to the planet, his jeans produced in France would have the lowest carbon cost on the planet.
Luxusplus: Several round tables will be held during the day, one of which is entitled “What are the benchmarks in the face of sociological and geopolitical upheavals? In your opinion, how are these upheavals impacting the soul of luxury and creation?
JC: Let’s take the subject of globalization. As anthropologist Marc Abélès, Director of Studies at EHESS, will remind us at the Summit, if the luxury economy is what it is today, it’s partly thanks to the evolution of globalization. At a time when luxury is experiencing a euphoria of growth, shouldn’t we qualify the idyllic vision of the future of luxury, at least of Western luxury as it exists today, by integrating the current dysfunctions of globalization and the current sociological and geopolitical upheavals? In another way, if regenerative luxury is a response from luxury brands to consumer expectations in terms of sustainable development, what can be the answers to those who reject the consumerist model, a trend that luxury brands cannot ignore?
But I believe more than ever, in the light of the crises the world is going through, that one of the purposes of luxury is to re-enchant the world, even to rethink it. This is also one of the reasons why I created the Centre du luxe et de la création as a place for reflection.
Luxusplus: How can the soul of luxury and creation be a guide for the industry in the years to come?
JC: During the Summit, several speakers will make the link between soul and authenticity. It’s a guide not only for the luxury industry, but also for the public authorities who, it should be remembered, have been at the side of designers, workshops, SMEs and luxury houses since the birth of luxury in France…supporting them in their development, their recruitment and training needs, and even their investments!
The Burgundy Franche Comté region’s exemplary commitment to the luxury ecosystem and to the know-how of excellence embodies what I’ve been proclaiming ever since the creation of the Centre du luxe et de la création: “Luxury is popular”. Finally, I would add that the soul of luxury is a link between cultures, creating places of encounter and wonder.
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