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When history repeats itself
Point of View

When history repeats itself

Wednesday, 10 September 2014
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Franco Cologni
President of the FHH Cultural Council

“Talent demands effort, dedication and hours spent perfecting a gesture which, day by day, becomes a gift.”

An entrepreneur at heart, though a man of letters, Franco Cologni was quick to embark on a business career that would lead him to key roles within the Richemont Group.

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3 min read
Beyond the genius of the creative directors, the world's media tends to overlook the talented craftsmen and women.

This leads me to reflect on the world in which we evolve, which is that of luxury products. It has its share of more or less absolute monarchs who are commonly viewed as “victorious”, and rightly so, but who are without any doubt “well served” on numerous occasions by a team whose value is not always fully acknowledged.

Let us be clear about this: it is only right that the successes the leading luxury Maisons enjoy in their markets should be ascribed to the foresight of their chiefs. Yet it is equally true that, beyond the genius of the creative directors, the world’s media tends to overlook the talented craftsmen and women to give top management an unprecedentedly high profile. In certain instances, the chairman or managing director becomes more popular than the creative teams who toil at their service – and as for the master watchmakers, what can I say! As though they had no desire for their moment in the spotlight which, in a not so distant past and particularly in fashion, was firmly trained on the designer or artistic director.

The very top bosses aren't gods; they are excellent resource managers...

Such an outcome is surely well-deserved. While the product and the customer will always be the foundations of a Maison’s success, it is no less true that the global economy demands strategic choices which only an enlightened mind can take; choices which require the distinctive vision of an intelligent, well-prepared person. What we do tend to forget, however, is that behind these stellar personalities there is almost inevitably a team. The very top bosses aren’t gods; they are excellent resource managers who know how to get the best from their teams, and unite these talents into a global vision. To attribute an almost sacral omniscience to the executive is both misleading and unfair to these teams.

Let’s draw a lesson from history and remember that victory is earned by a chief and his army together. As for Charles VII, I have no idea whether he ever thanked Joan of Arc but we are told he never lifted a finger to save her from death at the stake. Well served, but clearly not well mannered.

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