Adding new twists to the luxury tale

In the age of transparency, consumers are looking for meaning. Increasingly, luxury brands are obliging by integrating social engagement into their storytelling.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino15 février 2021

Dior Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2021. Matteo Garrone, one of Italy's most emblematic directors, continues, through the staging of these haute couture creations, the construction of a narrative iconography drawing on the visual power of the Visconti-Sforza tarot (Justine Provent).

Storytelling has not always been there. Or rather, it was never as dominant a force in the luxury industry as it is today. As the 20th century drew to a close, brands had yet to really discover storytelling. But in the 1980s, when the first major luxury houses started to take shape, competition became fiercer and brands finally began to embrace storytelling as a marketing strategy. Fast-forward to today, in the era of transparency and fact-checking, when consumers are in search of meaning and brands are driven to provide it. Storytelling is changing, and societal references are now part of a brand's story.

Sandra Krim, a lecturer at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the Paris School of Business Master 2 (DR)

To explore this shift, Luxury Tribune has planned a series of interviews with academic researchers and scholars at the forefront of this topic.

In this, the first of the series, we talk to Sandra Krim, a lecturer at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the Paris School of Business Master 2. A specialist in fashion and the cultural dimensions of luxury brands, she explores the new language of storytelling against the backdrop of the latest luxury brand fashion shows.

What is the role of storytelling today? And how does it forge a link with the consumer, at a time when trust and authenticity have become paramount?

It is a fact that consumers today have lost their trust in institutions. Having said that, they will trust a brand they can identify with. There has to be consistency between the consumer's personality and the personality a brand projects and the consumer perceives.

What is the most powerful lever brands use in their storytelling today?

The meeting between Charlotte Casiraghi and Sarah Chiche marked the kick-off of a series of Chanel literary events (Alix Marnat).

Art. Art symbolizes the pinnacle of human achievement, and luxury uses it to rise up and distance itself from premium brands. Art gives products some kind of transcendence. LVMH does it very well with the Louis Vuitton Foundation, but also with the Dior brand. Dior is the brand with the strongest artistic roots, particularly in its storytelling – after all, Christian Dior was originally a gallery owner and he moved in what was essentially an artistic circle.

These artistic origins legitimize the brand to build on the artistic lever. Chanel, too; they are very much involved with the Paris Opera and it has just launched a series of cultural literary podcasts with Charlotte Casiraghi. It's a whole new way to approach the cultural sector, since literature is still almost virgin ground for brands to leverage in their storytelling.

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