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

Jérôme Faillant-Dumas, the founder of L.O.V.E. Agency a luxury creative and branding agency based in Paris, sits down with us to discuss the importance of brand image and consistency in the increasingly competitive luxury market. He has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion and has learned from some of the best image makers in fashion and design.

How did you get your start in the industry? What was your first job?

JFD: I was very lucky to have started at Chanel in the perfume and cosmetics division a long time ago. I was Jacques Helleu’s assistant. He was quite a famous Creative Director and he taught me the importance of brand conception and coherence. Through Chanel, I met amazing photographers such as Irving Penn and Helmut Newton. After that, I was very lucky again because I met Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent. They asked me to be the Global Creative Director for YSL, which I was for 15 years. Everything was possible! We did perfume commercials with David Lynch, Helmut Newton and Jean Baptiste Mondino. It was an amazing experience. After that, Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of Christian Dior asked me to shape the artistic direction for Dior’s perfume, cosmetics and skincare.

What goes into creating a brand’s image?

JFD: Myself and my team at L.O.V.E. try to be very honest with the brand. The value I bring with my work is to be direct and to tell the brand the truth. I prefer to be part of a successful project and to have confidence in the outcome. To do this, it’s important to understand what is in front of you and to approach it with honesty.

This understanding and respect of a brand’s DNA is what led to his collaboration with the Grace de Monaco team.

JFD: I was very proud to be asked to participate in the Grace de Monaco branding. The name Grace de Mona- co, even just Monaco, it’s electric, it’s a legend.

Is it difficult to collaborate with established brands, brands that already have strong points of view?

JFD: The most important aspect of this kind of work is to first understand the brand’s DNA and what is in front of you. For example, Chanel has strong branding because they have created a frame around their brand DNA. If you don’t move this frame, you can anything to the inside of the frame and it will remain part of the DNA of the brand. Some brands are concerned with seeming old or “démodé” that they will try to do too much. The consumer is not stupid. If you have a dog and try to declare it a cat, it won’t work. This is where contempo- rary versus modernity comes into play. You want to twist and play with the details, but it’s not necessary to do a complete 180 degree change.

What inspiration did you draw on in creating the GDM branding? What was that process like?

JFD: Starting with the perfume bottle, it was an accident really. Due to timing, we had to think differently. We decided on a classic bottle but wanted to do something more. This is where the idea of the frosted stripes took shape. Maybe this is very pretentious, but I wanted the perfume bottle to have the modernity of the Chanel No 5 bottle. So for the perfume bottle, we decided on the gold cord trimming and the famous ceramic flower. We felt these ingredients combined to make an exceptional perfume bottle to launch the brand. With the other products, we had to find the right coherence, connecting themes and materials. The Monaco name represents sophistication, so all the details needed to be delicate and thoughtful.

Jérôme compares branding to a choreography. To create impact, you need to be able to organize the experience into a kind of storytelling. It’s clear that he approached working with the Grace de Monaco brand with the same awareness and respect that he’s been known for throughout his distinguished career in luxury.