Rocky Mountain High
Moncler is a niche luxury player with impeccable credentials—but it wasn’t when Remo Ruffini took the helm
he worst of times have become the best of times for an elite group of boutique luxury companies, in what’s becoming a familiar industry story: An executive takes over a flagging brand that’s 50 to 70 years old— Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta (founded in 1966), Jean-marc Gaucher at Repetto (1947) and Remo Ruffini at Moncler (1952)—and transforms its fortunes by going back to basics, rediscovering and repositioning its roots before embarking on a global roll-out. Bottega Veneta was the finest Italian leather; Repetto appealed to women and girls and counted such luminaries as Brigitte Bardot among its clientele; but Moncler, an unassuming French down jacket, cagoule and sleeping-bag brand? Cool, yes—but desirable only to a niche group of adventurers.
“When I took over Moncler in 2003, I had a clear idea. I wanted to create the ultimate duvet jacket, an iconic garment to be worn by everybody on every occasion,” says Ruffini. Indeed, he did—and in bringing Moncler down from the mountains yet still targeting those on- and off-piste, Ruffini has hit styleicon high and become a billionaire.
Witness the brand’s latest dreamscape of an ad campaign that pits peroxided male model-of-the-moment Lucky Blue Smith with his sister Pyper America Smith in the wilds of Iceland, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. “Annie’s inspiration was the fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen—the Snow Queen. I went with Annie and was enchanted by the beauty of nature, a fairy tale in itself. The icing on the cake was that Pyper and Lucky Blue Smith played the roles so brilliantly.”
Success also came with his recent project Art for Love, an exhibition shown during September’s Fashion Week in New York City, featuring “32 of the best photographers of the moment” who interpreted the iconic Moncler duvet jacket, Maya. The list of snappers assembled—bruce Weber, Patrick Demarchelier, David Bailey and Craig Mcdean, to name a few—is testament to Ruffini’s influence and vision. Art for Love is a project curated by Fabien Baron, but a charity initiative