NOTES FROM THE IHT CONFERENCE:
Last week I was in London for business and to attend the 10th anniversary of the International Herald Tribune ’s luxury conference. This time around, the questions posed by the IHT to the global fashion group gathered at the Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel concerned heritage, and how companies can reconcile the beauty of the past with the energy of the future.
The list of speakers read like a Who’s Who of the fashion world: the 2-day event brought together some of the biggest industry names to discuss how heritage and luxury can operate in the new world of digital fashion. Delegates from more than 37 countries bandied around new luxury concepts (from masstige to mass bespoke), while big brands took advantage of the captive audience to announce all manner of digital advances.
With speeches from heavy-hitters like TOD’s president, Diego Della Valle, Vionnet’s chairman, Matteo Marzotto and Ralph Lauren’s son, David Lauren, the conference–hosted by the IHT ’s own fashion editor, Suzy Menkes (see her interview with Karl Lagerfeld here) –definitely provided attendees with a stellar roster.
Burberry’s creative director, Chrisopher Bailey, along with CEO Angela Ahrendts, unveiled their new online bespoke concept–a tool that will allow shoppers to customize individual pieces (including an unbelievable 12 million variations of the world-famous trench coat).
Victoria Beckham made a cameo appearance–and Karl Lagerfeld offered his view that computers may represent the future but are no substitute for real brain power. His warning? Digital innovation must be tempered with genuine human creativity.
The conference also brought together three generations of the Missoni family (assembled for the first time ever on one stage): Rosita, Angela and Margherita. Their thoughts about running a family business were poignant, and the fact that Margherita has taken on such an important role in the company is both molto Italiano and quite endearing.
But for me, the most touching speech was given by Alber Elbaz, the designer at Lanvin–he’s such a wonderful, thoughtful speaker whose words seem to come straight from his heart. Addressing the subject of heritage, he told the audience that he visits the maison ’s archives every day and has a conversation with its founder, Jeanne Lanvin for inspiration.
The attendees were equally stellar: Imran Amed, Uche Okonkwo, Claus Lindorff, (CEO of BETC Luxe), Tracy On from Harper’s Bazaar, Helene Le Blanc of The Luxe Chronicles, Ravi Krishnan from IMG India, and so many more. It was great to see so many friends and associates I’ve met through work, and exciting to meet new people who share my desire to keep up with the ever-changing world of luxury.
Of course, there were also plenty of parties and industry events surrounding the conference itself. David Lauren took advantage of being in town to launch Ralph Lauren’s UK e-commerce site with a soirée at the Bond Street store. Guests enjoyed fabulous cocktails while he unveiled a 4D light show projected onto the building’s facade. And IMG–a conference sponsor–threw a fabulous party at One Mayfair (a former church, and a beautiful space for a party). Twitter later said that Tom Ford and L’Wren Scott showed up, but I missed them–nonetheless, it was a great time.
All in all, the event was a great opportunity to network and socialize with people in my industry. Thank you, Suzy Menkes, for being the catalyst behind such a wonderful conference!