Precious Archives

Luxury brands’ archives are more than ever in the spotlight. Several brands have orchestrated prestigious exhibitions – communicating the number of visitors, re-releasing old editions, and paying tribute to founders by means of highly-referenced storytelling. In Paris, we saw Dior show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Hermès at the Grand Palais, Burberry’s in the former offices of Libération newspaper, and soon Azzedine Alaïa in his studio… Many brands are also creating Archives departments, sometimes renamed “Heritage” to rhyme with “Vintage”, whose locations are obviously kept secret… One can wonder why this fever for the past has appeared at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Probably because roots are worth millions, at a time when any brand can stretch to new category, and “exclusive” and “mass premium” offers are popping up everywhere. Roots guarantee a brand’s affiliation to «Nobility». They’re essential to their identity – a bit like inheriting a castle. The Past is a dream factory. Strangely enough, the present and the future can’t do that. Brands always take out pretty images from their archives, and also beautiful objects, gorgeous and glamorous icons who make people dream much more than all those who have an influence on the moment’s fashion. These are precious sources of inspiration for contemporary art. The luxury brands’ immersion into their past contributes to showing how close they are to arts and crafts, and helps them venture into Culture and Museums. We used to see fashion only through the lens of Aesthetics, but we’ve just become aware that fashion is also about know-how. In fact, its artistic dimension can revive the public’s interest for textile and creation.

So what do we learn from the luxury brands’ appetite for heritage? That a useful product can also be considered as art. All brands should have the ambition to turn their products into pieces (of art). And not only the luxury brands.

So What ?

The world of haute couture feels entitled to showcase its own past. But all brands have a history. So why do only a few of them dare display their heritage?

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