The Industry Icon: Part two of a two-part conversation with Jérôme Faillant-Dumas

In part two of our interview with Jérôme Faillant-Dumas, the founder of L.O.V.E. consulting agency, we discuss inspiration, luxury and the art of craftsmanship. Read part one here.

Jérôme Faillant-Dumas respects the art and effort of craftmanship. Luxury craftmanship can represent hours of skilled labor, using the finest of materials. It becomes part of the consumer experience, connecting the user with artistry. For Grace de Monaco, Jérôme infused beloved elements and traditional processes into a modern narrative. His signature touch and attention to detail are unmistakably imprinted in the final products, proving that time and craftmanship are indeed at the heart of luxury.

Where did you draw inspiration in creating the Grace de Monaco vessels? What was your process like?

JFD: First, I tried to imagine what objects Princess Grace would like to have around the palais if she were alive today. We tried to find the right materials. The details needed to be delicate like the white packaging with embossed flowers. We had to be dedicated to the details because the Grace de Monaco name and family is sophisticated. Coherence across all the different products in the collection was important.

What importance does packaging have? Is it almost as important as what’s in the package?

JFD: Very important. If you’re talking about the point of sales and the merchandising, it’s extremely important. The shelving, the lights and how you position products, is crucial to creating impact. Another element is the colors of the brand. The white and yellow are essential to the concept of the Grace de Monaco brand.

What does luxury mean to you?

JFD: For me, luxury names don’t hold much meaning. Luxury isn’t just about how expensive something is, it’s what you’re doing around the concept of the design. Take for example, the iPhone from Apple. It could be considered luxury because it’s very well designed. The environment that the product is sold in, is very sophisticated. You can go so far as to say that the consistent and controled image of Chanel is similar to the way that Apple’s advertising and product launches are. This is a kind of luxury. But also, luxury is artisanal. When something is man-made or handcrafted. For example, bespoke suiting. This is a luxury. The Grace de Monaco perfume bottle, with the gold trimming and the ceramic flower. It was necessary, to have those details added to the bottle by hand. That is luxury. For the perfume bottles, there was no machine. It’s the same with the Hermes Kelly bag - it’s not just the premium materials, it’s carefully handcrafted by an artisan. There is close human contact with each product. Another example is the Steinway piano. Steinway have two production plants in the world. One in Germany and one in New York. I visited one of the factories and I learned that the structure, you know, the skeleton of the piano is done by one carpenter. The entire process is meticulous. Although all Steinways are manufactured the same, there are subtle differences because the manufacturing is manual. Virtuosos will sample a series of pianos and select the one that sounds right to them. It’s these small differences that makes them unique, personalized in a way.

Do you think that the this kind of production is dying out? Is there a chance that one day we won’t have these beautiful works of art if there’s no interest in it?

JFD: There are people who are absolutely interested to know these kind of things. In Japan when there is a special limited edition product, people will get in a queue for hours to get it. The interest in items done by hand is very high. I think all consumers love the storytelling. We love knowing the history, the meaning and the reason behind things. We need lovely storytelling. It’s not enough to say it smells good, or it’s beautiful. When we did the advertising for Miss Dior with Natalie Portman, it was a big success because Natalie - first of all, she’s a clever woman. But at the same time, we didn’t choose Natalie Portman because she’s a model or an actress. But we chose Natalie, because she can share a message and connect with consumers.

Your mentor Jacques Hillier is quoted as saying that taste is a gift. Do you think that this is something that can only be acquired naturally?

JFD: It’s natural. But also it’s very subjective. It’s important to define artistic vocabulary. For example, if you ask me to create something with your favorite color, red, I think it’s very important to specify which red because my interpretation it could be different than what you are expecting. See what I mean? When we’re on the same level, we can share and we can work on it together - you really have to clearly imagine things when you’re working with a client. This is why it’s very nice to work with Grace de Monaco, because the team is very precise and they know exactly what they want.

What design period or technique interests you?

JFD: It’s not so simple! All my life I’ve been interested in learning. Everything about architecture, art, painting, design. I want to specify that I’m referring to interior design. I’m interested in 18th century, 19th century, 20th century and 21st century design. I’m interested in seeing objects, furnitures or paintings from the 18th century just as much as something more contemporary. I don’t like the word “design” because for me design connects with the industrial approach. I’m much more interested in understanding the craftmanship.

Are there any materials or elements that you’re always drawn to?

JFD: I like artisanal materials. So I love plasters, different woods, plexiglass, ceramics and straw marquetry. I admire the creative director for Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry. He’s American and he’s in charge of the creative fashion for this French/Italian brand. But he understands the surrealism of the brand and he has created this jewelry - a mouth or eyes as the buttons of a dress, etc. For me, that’s also luxury because at the same time it’s very wonderland. It’s a fairytale.

Is there any object that you would love to redesign or something you know you could improve on?

JFD: The glass contour bottle of Coca-Cola designed by Raymond Loewy. This is not something I would redesign, but I consider that luxury. You see what I mean? It’s luxury because it’s glass. The design is amazing and this may be an extreme choice, but for me it’s a legend. For me, Raymond Loewy is a legend. Mies van der Rohe is a legend as well. But also Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean-Michel Frank, and Constantin Brâncusi. Storytelling is very important to Jérôme. He is passionate about placing meaning behind each concept he develops with his team. That’s why the Grace de Monaco perfume bottle is not just a bottle to him. He has not only considered the family and the spirit of Princess Grace, but he has thought of what it means to share it with the different women who would love to wear this fragrance. Just like the artists and artisans he admires, his thoughtful contributions are redefining the luxury space.

Discover our interviews with fragrance expert Véronique Gabai.