Thursday, July 18, 2024

Show of confidence: Chanel is restaging its cruise 2024-25 show in Hong Kong

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Soft hues and varied textures abounded at Chanel’s cruise 2024-25 show in Marseille, France, on May 2. Photo: Handout

But in recent years, anti-government protests that began in 2019 and ended the following year, and protracted border closures that kept visitors away during the coronavirus pandemic, have affected Hong Kong’s standing as a tourist magnet.

Even at the height of the pandemic, though, Chanel never failed to cultivate its loyal customer base in the city with a series of events catering to local media and clients, not to mention a major expansion of its boutique at the Peninsula hotel, which Pavlovsky called at the time in a video interview with the Post, “one of the most beautiful in the world”.

“We will continue to invest in Hong Kong,” said Pavlovsky in Marseille. “We’re very pleased to be in Hong Kong. We’ve wanted to do this for quite a long time, but Covid kept us from doing something big, so this will be super. We’re very happy to go back to Hong Kong.”

Chanel’s president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, at a talk in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2022, the day after the brand’s Métiers d’Art show. Photo: Handout
Over the last two decades, Chanel has held off-schedule destination shows in locations such as Edinburgh, Scotland; Dallas, Texas; Havana, Cuba; Dakar, Senegal; and, more recently, Manchester, England. The maison also holds four annual ready-to-wear and haute couture shows in Paris.

These “pre-collection” shows, as they’re also known, are extremely important – not only because of their high visibility, but also because of their role in strengthening the relationship with long-term VIP clients, and in acquiring new ones.

The cruise collection normally drops in stores in November – or later in the winter, in some cases – and is available until the early summer, much longer than the twice-yearly autumn/winter and spring/summer lines. Also known as a resort collection, the line takes its name from the idea that, back in the day, designers would offer an assortment of looks to wear on holiday – often a cruise – just in time for the end of year’s travel season.

Repeat or replica shows, like the one happening in Hong Kong following the first unveiling in Marseille, play an important role as they take place just as the collection arrives in stores, creating immediate buzz and drumming up interest among clients who don’t have to wait months until the pieces are available for purchase.

The Chanel cruise 2024-25 show in Marseille, France, on May 2, took place at the Unesco World Heritage site Cité Radieuse. Photo: Handout
Chanel famously has one of the most loyal clientele in the industry, most of them one percenters who are impervious to the vagaries of the global economy, which in recent months has been wreaking havoc on the luxury industry, with lower growth in important markets such as China.

Pavlovsky, who also acts as president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, is sanguine about the future prospects of the luxury industry – and Chanel in particular – and calls the current situation a normal readjustment after a period of euphoria during and right after the coronavirus pandemic, when customers stuck at home and unable to travel spent freely on luxury goods to rewards themselves.

“Life is back to normal and people are travelling again, which is very good news for the world. In Japan, the yen is very low so most people from Asian countries are going to Japan,” he said in Marseille. “It’s normal to see a slowdown after three years. Customers need to make choices, and some of them choose to buy luxury goods or to travel.

“The strong brands will still stay strong, while other brands will face changes – but I’m not worried at all,” he added confidently. “We have to deal with [the readjustment], but our strategy is not changing. It’s about creation – and now, that is even more important.”

Romantic ruffles at the Chanel cruise 2024-25 show in Marseille, France, on May 2. Photo: Handout
As for the constant refrain about the significant price increases that luxury goods – Chanel bags in particular – have undergone in recent years, Pavlovsky doesn’t mince words. “I often get asked about our bags and our high prices, but we’re the ultimate luxury house,” he declared. “We have iconic bags that are expensive … but we also have novelties every season; fashion bags that are also doing very well and have a lot of potential.

“This is the day to day life of a luxury brand: how you position yourself and reposition yourself and focus on creation, and surprise media and clients. This is what we’re doing,” he concluded.

Chanel’s upcoming cruise show comes on the heels of a menswear show that fellow Parisian label Louis Vuitton held in the city in December 2023, another display of confidence in Hong Kong and its position as a luxury hub. It’s also a reassuring sign for the city after another Parisian maison, Dior, cancelled the unveiling of a men’s collection in Hong Kong in March just weeks before the scheduled date.

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