Drawing on thirteen years as Director of Visual and Graphic Identity at L’Oréal and of a 20-year experience in a communication agency, Véronique Philippe advocates the joy of discovering and sharing, a feeling that invariably magnifies her in-depth thinking. To the power of words, she prefers the potency of images – their very essence, their capacity to provoke emotion and arouse a vibration of the senses rather than of reason. The magnificent way she defines luxury is not a matter of prices or trends, but mainly a question of personal feeling, a powerful reaction to know-how. Even so, she has forged her own personal vision of virtual parallel worlds deprived of humans… though only temporarily.
With words of infinite humility and accuracy, Véronique Philippe explains how luxury cannot exist without the love for aesthetics.
Vendom Talents – Your approach seems to create a symbiosis of aesthetic and psychological reflection – two concepts that are actually quite complementary. Could you explain this vision?
Véronique Philippe – During my career, aesthetics has invariably been my guiding light. On the one hand, the notions of service, experience, emotion and affect have persistently motivated me to find meaning in all our doings, and on the other hand, I have always understood the cruciality of seeking ways to transmit this emotion. It is essential to know how to stand out from a competition in a given environment.
In this regard, I have always considered these reflections globally: to begin, the material at my disposal; then the way I will shape it – visually speaking; finally, the difference that drives and guides me, which will give rise to emotion and to a unique experience. I think that my inspiration goes well beyond the professional framework – it is linked to my own feelings. I am unable to analyse my method. All I can say is that the first phase is me getting nurtured, listening, analysing. In the second phase, my feelings and persuasion skills make it possible to implement a project.
VT – How did you come into contact with the luxury sector? Was it an aspiration or was it random? Was it a click?
VP – Ever since I was a child, I have been immersed in the world of art, which sparked in me a deep sensitivity to creativity, craftsmanship, excellence and subsequently to the creation of beautiful objects. All this led me to be very admiring of a few important French Maisons, which have been able to keep their identity through their art and know-how, aware that they had to continuously renew themselves. I believe that I was thrown into the world of luxury precisely because of this ability to observe and to marvel at this approach.
VT – Did a driving force or a specific personality push you to pursue this path?
VP – I never really had a specific mentor. I was more interested in artistic movements. Photography has always inspired me a lot – a picture always provokes a reaction in me, more or less intense according to the currents, an emotion that can arise equally from a painting, a landscape, a material, a colour combination and many other subjects.
My admiration is not limited to an object, but extends to its creator, bearer of a talent that is not given to all. I recently experienced a breathtaking sense of admiration for the work of an employee in a famous crystal factory – a woman creating tesserae from models. The perseverance and precision of her work – manufacturing thousands of small glass tiles – overwhelmed me. I consider her art to be unique, belonging to her only, as her work is not only revealed in the workmanship of the art pieces, but exposed in her interpretation of the model.
VT – What is your current vision of the all-embracing development of virtualization (phygitalisation, virtual reality, NFTs, etc.) many brands are attracted to? Do you think that digital technology and human contact can emulate each other and ultimately create new gateways between professionals and their clientele?
VP – My main vision of luxury is non-virtual. These media will never have the capacity to replace human contact. I am certainly not denying that they were an extraordinary playground during the pandemic, allowing many brands to stay in touch with their customers. It cannot be denied that the crisis led to the creation of immensely innovative and tremendously creative situations, also thanks to the collaboration between brands and artists.
Though unmistakably a plus, virtualization will never be able to supplant a face-to-face customer experience. One can imagine the waterline between reality and fiction the way Jacques Attali did, as a “seventh continent”: virtualization is an inexhaustible field of creativity, innovation and dreams. In this regard, it does complete the magic of luxury, penetrating the imagination and generating live experiences. We are all aware that younger generations, who have known these media since birth, may be more tempted to go through this type of emotion rather than turning to physical experiences, at least in the retail sector. On the other hand, virtualization certainly allows brands to stand out in the luxury market by refining their identity, by diversely carrying their values and by bringing millennials into their own culture.
VT – Indeed, it seems that the discovery of new means/tools aimed at increasing emotion is still in progress. Do you share this point of view?
VP – The strength of luxury is undoubtedly a formidable and never-ending pool of creativity. Even though virtual parallel worlds deprived of a face-to-face experience do exist, it is important to understand that the universe of luxury brands is endless – as a matter of fact, a virtual experience cannot be implemented in real life and conversely, virtual worlds will always lack the human touch of luxury. Though complementary, they will never replace each other.
VT – What moved you most in your approach and in the feedback you received?
VP – I appreciate people who are moved by good taste and sensitive to aesthetics and its know-how. I am driven by the impact an object has on them; I vibrate though this kind of observation. Sharing any kind of discovery (an art, an exhibition, a creator, etc.) with other people is the part I like best – I expect to feel other people’s emotion, the way they are inspired, how a new way of thinking emerges in them. Of course, I can live the discovery experience on my own, or even disagree with others on the feelings, but what matters most to me is the unravelling of an emotion feeding my own reflection, leading me to something else again.
VT – What will be your next step along this path?
VP – I prefer to discover it. I don’t plan it. I’d rather let it be a surprise.
Contact : linkedin.com/in/veronique-philippe/
(Photo : © Stéphane de Bourgies)