A luxury zeitgeist: A still from The New Look, Apple TV's drama about how Dior launched modern fashion bringing hope a world ravaged by World War II
A luxury zeitgeist: A still from The New Look, Apple TV's drama about how Dior launched modern fashion bringing hope a world ravaged by World War II
Image: Supplied

It’s been almost a decade since designer Raf Simons told Elle Magazine that “fashion is now pop” and “the mystique is gone”. In the same interview, the revered designer concedes that fashion is indeed commerce in the end and “that’s OK”.

Many inferred a little elitism in the designer’s statement but that doesn’t make it untrue. The democratisation of anything often leads to diminishing quality because it has to appeal to many people, reducing it to being basic. It is this desire to appeal to everyone that has always, and continues to drive the ever-growing convergence of luxury, fashion and entertainment.

I’m thinking about this in the context of luxury goods giant LVMH’s big move into the entertainment space with the launch of 22 Montaigne Entertainment — aimed solely at boosting the marketing of its labels, which include Dior, Hennessy, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. 

Through 22 Montaigne Entertainment, LVMH hopes to go beyond facilitating the placement of their products in movies and TV shows. They plan on getting involved with the development and financing of Hollywood projects.

“It’s more an evolution, than anything, because luxury and entertainment have been connected for a long time. Both are about culture,” said the group’s North America chief, Anish Melwani, in an interview with Deadline.

The new venture, headquartered in Paris, launches when fashion and entertainment industries have become increasingly commercially linked with celebrities such as Rihanna moving seamlessly between the two and Pharrell Williams heading up men’s wear at Louis Vuitton. The latter echoes the brand’s stated intention to become more of a “lifestyle” than a luxury fashion brand.

Last year, Artemis, the holding company owned by the Pinault family, which also owns Gucci and other luxury brands through Kering, bought a controlling stake in Creative Arts Agency (CAA), probably the world’s leading talent agency. Dominant sentiment is that the deal is not motivated by fashion, but it does give Kering access to some of the world’s most recognisable talents in music, film, television, as well as influencers and models.

Crafting jewellery

LVMH gave the world a glimpse into what its amplified involvement with Hollywood could look like in the Matthieu Menu-directed docufilm Inside the Dream (2022). The doccie, which follows Lucia Silvestri, creative director of Bulgari (an LVMH brand), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and streamed on Amazon Prime.

It spotlights the brand, delving deep into the processes to reveal the many stages of crafting its jewellery. It also features stars including Zendaya and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.

The relationship between high fashion and Hollywood is nothing new. The 1919 film The Garage is cited as one of the first examples of product placement, having featured Firestone tyres and Red Crown Gasoline brands. In 1927, the film Wings became the first Oscar winner to feature product placement with actors indulging on Hershey’s chocolates in a few scenes.

Product placement has now become ubiquitous as social media has taken over television marketing’s decades-long reign, reshaping how we engage with content and consumer expectations. We demand authentic storytelling in new ways, and those hoping to capture our attention have no choice but to fall in line.

We have seen brands become media companies as they adapt their business models to face the challenges of an ever-changing, fast-paced digital reality where brands, celebrities, and citizens alike are competing for the same piece of the social media pie.

This makes it necessary for brands to get into the content game, and it is plausible that more in fashion, and other luxury categories, will seek to commit to it, further entrenching the fashion industry’s significance and relevance in popular culture.

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