The next-gens in luxury firms aren’t complacent. Campden looks at 10 who are making a name in their own right.
Kilian Hennessy, 40
He’s an heir of the legendary Hennessy cognac company, but Kilian Hennessy’s luxury interests lie elsewhere: in fragrances. After training under some of Europe’s most prolific noses he worked as a perfumer for Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.
He launched his brand – called Kilian – in 2007 after becoming disillusioned by what he considered the declining quality of fragrance production by luxury groups, which he felt were cheapening scents to increase margins.
His own brand provides a high-end alternative to mass-produced fragrance brands which, he says, typically use synthetic scents. His bottles are made from thick, decorative glass, and are refillable in store. His perfumes also have evocative – if somewhat camp –names such as Straight to Heaven, Forbidden Games and In The City of Sin.
And he is a bit of a character, too. “I dress the same way every day,” he once told an interviewer. “I only like black.” He puts this down to his mother buying him coloured underpants for his 15th birthday.
“Our product is our marketing. Everything goes on that,” he says. “I want [the products] to be the opposite of throwaway. They’re objets d’arts.”
Aerin Lauder, 42
One of the youngest of the Estée Lauder beauty dynasty, Aerin Lauder (pictured, right) recently launched her own beauty, fashion, home and lifestyle brand, called Aerin.
In its first year the brand will be sold in 100 stores in the US including Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, and 20 in the UK, including Harrods. Such backing has led some to estimate that in its first year sales will reach $8 million (€6.1 million).
The granddaughter of Estée Lauder, Aerin joined the family firm in 1992 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, and held various executive roles including senior vice president and creative director. She is still its style and image director, and is also the youngest person ever to be named co-chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala.
“If Estée Lauder was alive today, she’d be doing what Aerin is doing,” says one of her new business’s presidents. “My vision is to create a beauty and lifestyle brand shaped for my generation and those to follow,” Aerin has said.
Lapo Elkann, 35
The grandson of Fiat industrialist Gianni Agnelli, Lapo Elkann (pictured,left) – the brother of Fiat head honcho John – started his career working for family brands Maserati and Ferrari, before becoming Fiat’s director of marketing. He is credited with sexing up the then-ailing Fiat brand, reinventing the Fiat Punto and Fiat 500.
Fiat, he said, “is a symbol for the company, but it’s more than that. It’s a global Italian symbol, as Mini is a global British symbol.”
After that triumph he set up Italia Independent in 2007, a fashion, eyewear and lifestyle brand that has collaborated on products with skateboard brand Vans and high-end phone maker Vertu. Lapo has numerous other irons in the fire, though, including a communications and advertising agency called Independent Ideas.
Most recently he has joined Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo on the launch of the Ferrari Tailor Made project, which allows drivers to create fully bespoke $250,000 sports cars. “Status is boring,” he has said. “We want to sell uniqueness. We want to allow our customer to build the product with us. Real luxury is customisation.”
Delfina Delettrez, 25
A fourth-generation Fendi, Delfina Delettrez (pictured, right) has grown up surrounded by the finest of Italian luxury – her mother, Silvia Venturini, is the creative director of accessories at the luxury powerhouse. As a child she split her time between Rome and Rio de Janeiro, studying in Paris, including an internship at Chanel.
Her debut solo jewellery collection, launched in 2007, went straight into iconic Parisian concept store Colette.
She has her own boutique in Rome, and has also collaborated with the Gagosian Gallery and Kenzo. Delfina Delettrez jewellery is known from its eclectic, quirky mix of influences, from bugs to religious symbols and art, all rendered in combinations of precious metals and materials like Carrera marble, woods, glass and crystals. “All of the women in my family are very creative so my path was a natural one into design,” she has said.
Julien and Charles de Luca, 33 and 30
Fashion wasn’t the first career choice for Julien de Luca, who was persuaded by his father that there was no future in tailoring, so he moved to London and became a stockbroker. However, four years ago he decided to go into the family business, Camps de Luca. It was a good move; the tailoring firm has grown 15% a year ever since, as France has fallen back in love with bespoke tailoring.
Julien and his brother Charles (pictured, left) have jointly taken over the business founded by their grandfather Mario, a tailor who learned his trade in a small village in the Abruzzo region of Italy before moving to Rome, Milan and finally Paris in 1948. The brothers are the business’s two cutters, backed up by 20 tailors.
De Luca’s famous clients include Saudi royals, the Shah of Iran and King Hussein II of Morocco – but the brothers are looking to the future. And more specifically, east to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, where they are now selling suits with an unmistakably French sparkle.
“We don’t need to justify our prices,” says Julien. “Ferrari doesn’t justify its price.”
Christine Tang, 28
As the daughter of David Tang, founder of fashion chain Shanghai Tang, Christina Tang had a lot to live up to when stepping out with her own venture. But the fashion designer has proved her mettle.
Teaming with friend (and Mrs Roman Abramovich) Dasha Zhukova in 2006, the pair set up Kova&T, a fashion line specialising in premium denim and feminine casual-wear. The brand has since expanded to include all women’s wear, including coats, cocktail dresses and a cotton range. It is now stocked in over 100 stores globally, including W hotels across the US, Harrods and Tsum in Russia. It has also collaborated with Urban Outfitters.
She’s a keen tweeter, and says: “Web and digital are so important these days, and it’s so important for your consumer to follow what the brand is doing.”
Delphine Arnault, 37
Don’t let the unassuming smile fool you. Delphine Arnault (pictured, right) is one of the fastest rising talents in the LVMH family business, and known as much for her no-nonsense business nous as her glamorous image (a journalist in her native France once referred to her as a “wolf in a cashmere coat”.)
The daughter of Bernard Arnault and deputy general manager at Dior Couture is a member of LVMH’s executive committee, and a member of the boards of Emilio Pucci and Loewe. She studied at the EDHEC business school, and began her career at McKinsey in Paris before joining LVMH group, initially as an HR manager. Since then she’s steadily risen through the ranks.
She’s instrumental in picking designers for brands at the group’s portfolio, and is also – in her growing role at Dior – taking control of the brand her father Bernard most treasures. At the age of just 28 she was made a director at LVMH. In 2002, she controlled 7.5% of the stock, and she is now the second biggest individual stockholder, making her one of the world’s wealthiest women.
Unsurprisingly, she’s a regular in the gossip magazines, and when she married Italian wine heir Alessandro Vallarino Gancia in 2005 the coverage of the wedding took up a whopping 26 pages of Paris Match magazine. Among the guests were fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and France’s then-president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Clinton Ang, 39
The third-generation managing director of Singaporean wine dealer Hock Tong Bee (pictured, left) took over the company in 1997, after studying in the US and UK. As a student he and a friend, whose father owned a Napa Valley vineyard, tried to make their own wine – before they were shut down.
That entrepreneurial spark saw him set up a subsidiary business when he got home, called CornerStone. A wine-bar operator, wholesaler and wine investment house, it now contributes 40% of the family business’s profits.
The grand crus that the Angs now sell are a far cry from the business’s origins: it was founded in 1938 as a gunny sack trader in China’s Fujian Province.
A magazine once voted Clinton Singapore’s Most Eligible Bachelor – before his marriage to heiress Tina Cheng. His Christian faith mean he refuses to sell drinks to karaoke bars and nightclubs. “We’d rather lose business than compromise our beliefs,” he says. He is coy about rumoured political ambitions, insisting: “I would answer the call. But it is not my choice.”
Alannah Weston, 40
Selfridges’ creative director Alannah (pictured, right) is credited with refreshing the group’s image. Since 2003, when her Canadian-Irish father Galen Weston bought the group and employed her to put some sparkle into the shops, she has introduced art initiatives, retail theatre, launched the lavish Shoe Galleries (the largest shoe hall in the world), the luxury Wonder Room wing and re-invigorated the window displays. A former head of international press at Burberry, she has to take some of the credit for Selfridges’ sales hitting $1 billion in 2012.
“People now have so much choice – sports events, museums, theatres, these are all our competition,” she has said. “People want so much more from their brands. They want intellectual, cultural, and yes, spiritual nourishment. They don’t just want to buy things.”
Dylan Lauren, 38
Inspired by seeing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on her fifth birthday, Ralph Lauren’s daughter set up Dylan’s Candy Bar in 2001, the world’s biggest sweet shop.
Dylan (pictured, left) is not afraid to go against her dad’s instincts: when he suggested that she decorate the Candy Bar in vintage style, she insisted on a brash modern interior. It struck a chord, and there are now stores in East Hampton, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami. The New York store has become a tourist destination and has been a location in TV show Gossip Girl.
“It’s a blessing to have a name that’s synonymous with high end [products] and American lifestyle,” she admits. “But I don’t feel like it’s a shadow, it’s a great thing to have.” Dylan turned down an offer from huge American retailer Target to work together, but has a deal to supply Holt Renfrew, a Canadian department store owned by the Weston family, which also owns Selfridges. “My dad said I should do what I liked,” she says. “He understands that it’s not just about candy, but growing a whole brand out of it.”
Images copyrighted to Wireimage, Getty Images for Dior, Sonia Moskowitz/Zumapress/Newscom, Alec Michael, Zumapress/Newscom, Alex Berliner/ Press Association Images, Owen Hoffman/Ap/Press Association Images