Mont­blanc: A Clas­sic Tale

In Bangkok for the of­fi­cial open­ing of an en­tirely re­fur­bished bou­tique and the launch of a spe­cial edi­tion of the Meis­ter­stück Le Petit Prince writ­ing in­stru­ment, MATTHIEU DUPONT, pres­i­dent of Mont­blanc South­east Asia, makes time for a chat to françois o

Prestige (Thailand) - - CONTENTS -

it’s just hours be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing of Mont­blanc’s new, re­vamped bou­tique in Siam Paragon, and the events team is run­ning around to get ev­ery­thing ready for the big night. It’s go­ing to be a dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion; apart from the big re­veal of the new bou­tique, Mont­blanc will also be cel­e­brat­ing the launch of the Meis­ter­stück Le Petit Prince Spe­cial Edi­tion, a writ­ing in­stru­ment in­spired by An­toine de Saint-ex­upéry’s muchloved po­etic tale.

With de­sign el­e­ments based on Saint-ex­upéry’s hand-drawn il­lus­tra­tions, the Meis­ter­stück Le Petit Prince Spe­cial Edi­tion evokes the themes of one of the world’s most trans­lated nov­els – the power of imag­i­na­tion, friend­ship and the trans­mis­sion of ideas to oth­ers. With its sim­ple mes­sage that real wealth comes from giv­ing to oth­ers, the edi­tion re­in­forces the leg­endary Meis­ter­stück’s sta­tus as a pow­er­ful and mean­ing­ful gift that cre­ates last­ing bonds be­tween gen­er­a­tions.

Mont­blanc has been at the fore­front of cre­at­ing ex­cep­tional writ­ing in­stru­ments since 1906. why does this seg­ment re­main so im­por­tant to you as a brand?

As much as we use tech­nol­ogy to­day, and as much as Mont­blanc has evolved into other prod­uct cat­e­gories, writ­ing in­stru­ments still re­main a grow­ing cat­e­gory and is an in­te­gral part of our DNA. It might not be the fastest grow­ing seg­ment, but it is still grow­ing with a sin­gle digit, year on year. Ac­tu­ally, in Thai­land the growth has been dou­ble (dig­its). By far the fastest grow­ing cat­e­gory for us is large leather goods. In­ter­est­ingly enough, within the writ­ing in­stru­ment cat­e­gory, what is grow­ing the fastest – also in Thai­land – is the high artistry in­stru­ments over 20,000 eu­ros (around 760,000 Baht). But we also see an ac­cel­er­a­tion in in­stru­ments above 20,000 eu­ros. We see an ap­petite for writ­ing in­stru­ments that are very high-level. An­other in­ter­est­ing point, if you look at the world­wide de­mand for writ­ing in­stru­ments over one mil­lion eu­ros (around

38 mil­lion Baht), there’s sim­ply not enough sup­ply. These are ex­cep­tional works of art more than any­thing else, re­ally.

Last night I had an in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion with a client and asked him why he col­lects so many writ­ing in­stru­ments. He told me, “There is a sense of free­dom I have in writ­ing, be­cause I do not wish to be a slave to tech­nol­ogy.”

do you think there is a no­tice­able trend to vin­tage and clas­sic de­sign el­e­ments? Yes, def­i­nitely. There’s some­thing beau­ti­ful about vin­tage. We get many en­quiries about pre­vi­ous Pa­tron of Arts cre­ations with peo­ple want­ing to know where they can find it. There seems to be a re­turn to clas­sic, al­though we have al­ways been main­tain­ing the el­e­ments of crafts­man­ship, which is still very much the same. When it comes to col­lectible items, there are more and more en­quiries about pre­vi­ous writ­ing in­stru­ments we pro­duced. With re­gard to this we need to be care­ful, as we don’t want to be stuck in the past. If you look at the face of Mont­blanc to­day to where it was 10 years ago, you see a much more mod­ern brand – there’s more em­pha­sis on leather goods and watches and not just that stereo­typ­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tion with writ­ing in­stru­ments.

as an in­vest­ment, how vi­able are writ­ing in­stru­ments, com­pared to watches and jew­ellery?

If you look at your clas­sic Meis­ter­stück, they will con­tinue to ap­pre­ci­ate in value of course, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t say that this is an in­vest­ment piece – I would say that it’s more of a life­time com­pan­ion. How­ever, there are writ­ing in­stru­ments from Mont­blanc out there for which there is a very high de­mand, like the Char­lie Chap­lin. When you look at the value to­day, it is much higher than when we ini­tially launched it. There are some com­mem­o­ra­tive an­niver­sary edi­tions which are fetch­ing much higher prices to­day, too. And if you look at ex­am­ples of spe­cial edi­tions we launched last year, these are much sought-af­ter to­day. In most cases we can only an­tic­i­pate that the mar­ket prices for these will in­crease in the fu­ture, as de­mand grows. It’s also down to our ca­pac­ity to man­u­fac­ture – they are beau­ti­ful pieces and lim­ited edi­tions.

sto­ry­telling and lux­ury goes hand in hand, and in this case you have rein­ter­preted the clas­sic tale of “the lit­tle prince”. why do you think this book holds such al­lure?

We all grew up with “The Lit­tle Prince” and the val­ues it rep­re­sents. It is one of the most trans­lated books in the world, with more than 300 ver­sions. Whether you’re a child or an adult, you read it in a very dif­fer­ent way. It’s a beau­ti­ful story that ap­peals to all ages, gen­ders, na­tion­al­i­ties, races – it goes be­yond bor­ders. And it’s that uni­ver­sal tale that we wanted to in­ter­pret. Mont­blanc is a life­time com­pan­ion. The Lit­tle Prince is about com­pan­ion­ship, dif­fi­cul­ties in life, re­la­tion­ships, friend­ship and love. And these are things that are very im­por­tant for us at Mont­blanc, too.

for this lat­est col­lec­tion, did you use any new Ma­te­ri­als or spe­cial craft­man­ship tech­niques that we haven’t seen be­fore? From a tech­ni­cal stand­point we also had to take a dif­fer­ent view, be­cause it’s a dark blue colour – not the tra­di­tional black of the Meis­ter­stück. This dark blue colour, which re­sem­bles the sky, is very dif­fi­cult to achieve. The treat­ment is quite dif­fer­ent, with the metal fin­ish­ing and the fox that’s en­graved on it. It’s the first in­stal­ment of three, and will def­i­nitely be­come a col­lec­tors item.

you have Mod­ernised the brand with a whole new re­tail en­vi­ron­ment. how do you Man­age to strike a per­fect bal­ance be­tween Mont­blanc’s dna while at the same time be­ing con­tem­po­rary and cur­rent?

For us, fash­ion is not time­less. In­stead we fo­cus on the time­less, such as sar­to­rial el­e­ments, colours and fin­ishes – and there’s def­i­nitely a strong el­e­ment of moder­nity. In our re­tail en­vi­ron­ment there’s now a dif­fer­ent zon­ing of prod­ucts, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence. When you en­ter the bou­tique, you are met with the big back walls with leather goods. It’s a very new con­cept that re­flects our mod­ern ap­proach. It’s in line with how we move with the times.

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