Boucheron has once again exceeded the expectations of clients and visitors at the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition.
Boucheron chief executive officer Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, who was in Qatar recently, sat down with Gulf Times to discuss plans in the pipeline, including preparations for Boucheron’s 160th anniversary.
Gulf Times: Provide a brief background of your career and your extensive experience in the world of watches and jewellery?
Hélène Poulit-Duquesne: “I have been working for Cartier for more than 17 years, so…”
GT: Cartier is just on the opposite side of the hallway...
Poulit-Duquesne: “Yes! (laughs) I want to say ‘hello!’ to friends over there.”
“Because 17 years is a very long way, I think I basically got all my jewellery experience and watches because I also have been working with a lot of watches at Cartier, which is good because Cartier is at the forefront of the jewellery industry.
“I learned a lot about the stones…I’m in love with stones; I learned a lot about watchmaking mechanisms, so I got a lot of experience, especially on the product side and also on the commercial side…the majority of my career at Cartier was on the product side that’s why I am very linked to the product.”
GT: Where do feel your strength is? Is it on the product or commercial side, and how do you utilise that strength now that you are with Boucheron?
Poulit-Duquesne: “I think my big strength is with the vision. It’s the feedback I got pretty much from everybody, and especially at Boucheron, because when I joined the company the first thing I said was ‘I’ll set up a plan. I want to see the shareholders to explain where I want to go; to give the vision, and then validate it – that vision and the investment that we need to go there’.
“Then I explained to all the company employees where we’re going, and I think this is my main strength because I truly believe that when people know where they are they go faster but when they don’t know where they go, they are like in a mess.”
GT: So, can you say that this strength was what led you to Boucheron?
Poulit-Duquesne: “What led me to Boucheron is special. In fact, I’ve been known in the industry for years. I’m really interested in the history of the different Maisons, so I read a lot of books about the history of the brand, etc.
“And when you know a lot about high jewellery, you’re supposed to be in love with Boucheron because the positioning of the Maison is so, I would say, that at the beginning of the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there were two Maisons in Paris if you really have a nice piece – Cartier and Boucheron. So, for me it was like a dream to join Boucheron. And, if you ask people from the industry about Boucheron, they regard the brand in high esteem.”
GT: How do you describe your management philosophy?
Poulit-Duquesne: “For me, it was quite easy. The first thing I did when I joined the company was to dive into the archives, so I spent time in the books, in the drawings to really understand and be sure that what I had in mind about Boucheron was still the patrimony of the brand.
“Then, I felt convinced, which I knew before that I really understood that in the patrimony of the brand, Frédéric Boucheron was someone really special and a great man. And Frédéric Boucheron used to be really visionary in the way he was doing things – pushing the boundaries of high jewellery in terms of craftsmanship but also in terms of style, which was really interesting; that’s why he won the awards at international exhibitions in Paris.
“He was really innovative in the way he was doing business – he was creating and manufacturing in terms of craftsmanship, and that’s why in the DNA of the brand there is still a duty of innovation, so for us the creation is quite easy. You just take the patrimony and your duty is to make the most of it to go into the future.”
GT: Frédéric Boucheron was ahead of his time. Is it a challenge to be innovative but at the same time not deviating from the vision of Boucheron?
Poulit-Duquesne: “I think it’s kind of hard work. We have to work, meaning that every day we are questioning ourselves ‘are we in the right direction?’. But I think it is quite easy in a company like Boucheron because we are a small, agile and pretty young company – young in terms of people.
“We have a really talented creative director, Claire Choisne, and we get along very well together probably because we’re two women and we’re really similar in the way we’re thinking about creation. And even in terms of personality, we’re very close, so it’s really very easy for us to discuss and to project Boucheron in the future.
GT: Does this come natural for you and your creative team?
Poulit-Duquesne: “I think it’s quite natural as soon as you’re clear on the fact that you have to innovate on something that is very strong in terms of patrimony.”
GT: What distinguishes Boucheron from other French and international luxury houses?
Poulit-Duquesne: “We always say internally the signature is ‘créateur visionnaire’, so in the way we are thinking we still envision the brand for the future and not only in the past. We’re not only doing what we’ve been doing in the last 160 years and I think that’s really different from other Maisons, and it’s really what positions us differently in the market.”
GT: Boucheron has a unique ability to adapt, renew, and innovate. To what extent do you oversee the creative side of Boucheron?
Poulit-Duquesne: “I’m really involved in products because I love products and creation… Every week we have discussions based on the drawings that I receive… because it is our 160th anniversary, the new collection of high jewellery for July will be very special. And we present pieces that are really innovative not only in terms of aesthetic but also in terms of technique.”
A view of Vendôrama
GT: Can you tell us more about the Maison’s achievements in 2017?
Poulit-Duquesne: “In 2017, we’ve done a lot of things. We’ve pretty much prepared everything for the 160th anniversary. We launched a new advertising campaign and a new retail concept that we’ve been deploying in Geneva, Moscow, Paris. We also have two new Chinese boutiques with this new concept.
“We began the big work of renovating Vendôme, our flagship boutique in Paris. We opened two boutiques in China. We opened a boutique in Moscow. We launched the Serpent Bohème Couleur collection, which is a great achievement and went extremely well.”
GT: This year, Boucheron celebrates its 160th anniversary. What plans were put in place to highlight the house’s legacy?
Poulit-Duquesne: “The first thing was Vendôrama – the exhibition that we held in Paris, which was really important for the Maison. This lasted for two weeks. The second very important thing would be the launch in Paris of the high jewellery collection for the 160th anniversary in July. And the last but not the least is that by the end of the year, there will be the reopening of the 26 Place Vendôme Flagship, so we have three very big projects during the year to really express our 160th anniversary.”
GT: How would you describe the enthusiasm of clients and the press towards the Vendôrama exhibition held by Boucheron last month in Paris?
Poulit-Duquesne: “We did extremely well! It was so outstanding. We had incredible feedback from the press and also on social media. On Instagram, people were all expressing what they had experienced and they kept on posting online.
“I think we really…at least in Paris it was kind of a shock, like a wakeup call in Boucheron and people that were thinking that Boucheron didn’t do a lot in the past years were really like ‘wow, Boucheron is back!’ so, the message was really good.”
GT: You made a statement...
Poulit-Duquesne: “In our country, in our city it was important to make a statement that Boucheron is back.”
GT: Do you see another Vendôrama in the future?
Poulit-Duquesne: “For the time being we considered going to Japan, so the next stop for Vendôrama should be in Tokyo... I think that majority of the proposition would be the same but to adapt a little bit to the type of audience locally because we know that Japanese people will not react exactly the same like Parisians, so we have to adapt a little.”Last updated: February 24 2018 10:56 PM
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