Luxury fashion labels, to me, represent great branding. There's an utter unwillingness to compromise on the vision. There is a purpose - a dream that drives these spectacular designers to create their masterpieces. They design what is in their heart and what they feel emulates and satisfies the dream! From this stems beauty & glamour that people long to associate themselves, which drives demand and, therefore, high margins validating their luxury status!
Today, I saw Valentino: The Last Emperor, which got me thinking about great brands - brands that are able to adapt through the ages without compromising the dream.
Valentino had a purpose - a desire to create beautiful clothes for women - for women who loved to wear dressed and be beautiful! Throughout his career, Valentino did just that - designing clothes for the glamourati of the world, from princesses to Hollywood starlets! Valentino's dedication to his dream made him the fashion icon he is, and elevated his organization and brand to the level it is today!
It was amazing to see how everyone, who worked with him, knew they were designing clothes to make women beautiful! The dream lived in everyone - they had a common goal that drove them forward. Valentino was simply the compass guiding the brand and keeping it on course!
It was interesting to learn that when Valentino, the organization, hired designer Alessandra Facchinetti to become Valentino's successor, in 2008, she was abruptly dismissed after less than a year with the label, and was immediately replaced by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, who had been creating accessories for Valentino for more than 10 years. I found this particularly interesting after looking at Alessandra's collection from 2008 and Maria & Pier's collection in 2009:
Valentino Couture by Valentino in 2007
Valentino Couture by Alessandra in 2008
Valentino Couture by Maria & Pier in 2009
The two collections, post Valentino, are drastically different. Alessandra seemed to replace Valentino's iconic beauty with bold structure. Comparing it to the 2009 collection, designed by Valentino veterans, you begin to see the beautiful draping of material, which reintroduced the beauty Valentino was so passionate about!
Although Alessandra's 2008 collection was impressive and well received, it did not encapsulate Valentino's dream of feminine beauty, as he implied when asked about the change in designers:
"There is an archive of thousands of dresses that one can draw from to be inspired and create a Valentino product that keeps up with the times," the retired designer was quoted as saying by Italy's ANSA news agency. "Shame the one who came before them did not feel this need." (New York Daily News)
It was the two designers, who lived the brand and absorbed its essence from Valentino, that were able to create a collection that embodied the brand while keeping it fresh and exciting!
Great brands are guided by a dream, in this case, the desire to make beautiful clothes for women, and the strength to not compromise on that dream!