Raphael le Masne de Chermont is a man who knows what he wants, which made for a super snappy cover shoot
e’re on set when Raphael le Masne de Chermont receives a call from an unknown number. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Mandarin,” says the dapper executive chairman of Shanghai Tang—in Cantonese. The Breton has been here for just over 20 years so it’s no surprise he speaks a little of Hong Kong’s tongue. Nevertheless our crew is suitably impressed, especially since the polyglot is also fluent in Spanish, French and English.
Raphael is a dichotomous combination of highly energetic and incredibly relaxed. He has a no-tie policy (which fits neatly with his role as ambassador for a brand promoting Mandarin collars), he loves to walk and is a keen advocate of meditation. On the flip side, he plays polo— face-shatteringly serious polo, as you’ll read in our cover story. As a member of the Hong Kong Polo Team, he regularly zips off to various countries to give his mallet a run for its money. He hates laziness and is celebrated as the man who transformed the Shanghai Tang brand from a pedlar of pricey souvenirs into a luxury label for wearable, modern fashion—so ambition and drive are key character traits.
Both sides of his personality come out on set for photographer Olivia Tsang, who is using equine-themed light projections to glam up our studio shoot. Raphael loves the technique so much that he says he might employ it for a Shanghai Tang campaign. He has no qualms about voicing his opinions on the quality of each take, and is keen to have fun with his portraits, noting that he hates to be too serious. Efficiency reigns—as we suspect it always does when Raphael is in control—and we’re finished in just a few hours.
Turn to page 136 for the full story.
Raphael is adamant: There’s no need for a tie when we have the wonderful Mandarin collar