Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris

For many, Paris and luxury are interchangeable – or at the very least closely related. As the home of myriad designer brands and upmarket department stores, the French capital is the obvious choice if you’re looking to start or progress a career in the luxury industry.

Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris
Photos: ESSEC Business School

If you dream of working for luxury brands like Saint Laurent and Dior, a competitive degree from Paris-based ESSEC Business School could very well unlock the door. The Local sat down with a current student and a recent graduate of ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management and asked: Why Paris?

Location, location, location

It might seem obvious, but being nearby to the brands you want to work for is a huge advantage. While there is something to be said about trying one’s luck in up-and-coming places, if you’re looking to get ahead in the luxury industry, especially in brand management, there is probably nowhere better to start than Paris, the capital of luxury.

As Xi Yu, who completed her Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in 2018, points out, the abundance and diversity of opportunities in Paris is invaluable.

“Because there are so many opportunities in Paris, and so many paths you can take even in niche fields, you can fine-tune and calibrate your professional trajectory,” Xi Yu says.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management

Work with top designer brands

Photo: ESSEC Business School

As rewarding as studying might be, most professional development is driven by some kind of holy grail. For budding luxury brand managers, the goal is often to work with iconic Paris-based brands such as Dior, Montblanc, Céline, Saint Laurent, and Gucci.

For Xi Yu, her studies in Paris helped her transition from a managerial position in the car industry into the luxury travel retail industry at her dream employer – DFS at LVMH Group in Paris. After completing her final three-month consulting project with DFS, Xi Yu was offered a full-time position, and currently, she holds a managerial position in the opening team of DFS’s new department store in Paris.

 “I’m completing my rotation & training of DFS’s Accelerated Leadership Program in Hong Kong. In two weeks’ time, I’m going back to Paris to head up store operations of the upcoming store,” says Xi Yu.

Meet the right people 

As most professionals know well, to get the first foot in, regardless of how qualified you might be, can often be the hardest part of landing the job of your dreams. Merely being close to the right opportunities is not always enough: connections matter a great deal, particularly in certain industries – the luxury industry being one. With over 25 years teaching luxury brand management, Paris-based institutions such as ESSEC Business School have a close relationship with the luxury industry and link up students with their network of industry connections.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Alex Qian, a current student at the Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) at ESSEC Executive Education, has attended seminars given by guest speakers who work at heritage brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Dior. She appreciates the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and to learn from them about what it takes to stand out to headhunters and recruiters in the competitive luxury industry.

“Being in Paris means that ESSEC can work closely with the industry and the other way around, too,” says Alex Qian, who also works full-time at French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever and aspires to land a position in brand strategy at Tom Ford after the completion of ESSEC’s two-year program.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Executive Master in Luxury Management

Learn French – the lingo of luxury

Acquainting yourself with your industry is a must for anyone who hopes to rise the ranks. For luxury, being so enmeshed with France and French culture as it is, mastering the language of the land is a good investment. French is the workplace language at many luxury brands – even iconic German creative director Karl Lagerfeld was a lifelong learner of the language.

ESSEC alumni, many of whom pursued intensive on-campus French courses during the duration of their studies in Paris, attest that learning French was a key factor for professional success in Paris. For Xi Yu, her strong grasp of French was applauded during her first job interview in the city.

“Once I was admitted to ESSEC, I started taking full-time intensive French lessons in China – which helped me prepare for seizing job opportunities in Paris’s luxury industry,” says Xi Yu.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Rub shoulders with Paris’s crème de la crème

Paris’s world-renowned luxury industry is a magnet for international talent. Whether you’re just starting out or are an established professional, there are plenty of opportunities to connect and share knowledge and experience with fellow industry bods. Business schools such as ESSEC enable students to build their networks as they study. The connections they make are invaluable for support whilst at the business school – and may come in handy later down the line.

“Most of my peers are already established in their respective fields, and some already have their own luxury business. My encounters at ESSEC have been eye-opening and career-defining,” concludes Alex Qian.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ESSEC Business School.


Franco-Swiss cold war breaks out over ski border car park

Switzerland and France are in a snowball fight over a cross-border car park which serves Swiss ski slopes but has been closed by the French due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Franco-Swiss cold war breaks out over ski border car park
The object of the Franco-Swiss war: parking lot Les Dappes. Photo by AFP

The Battle of Dappes Car Park — for the moment a rather cold war — has been rumbling for weeks, triggered by the different Covid-19 rules on either side of an invisible line in a snow-covered field.

The 650-space car park sits in the valley between the pistes of La Dole on the Swiss side, and Les Tuffes in France. It is 250 metres inside French territory.

In the Jura mountains, the summit of La Dole overlooks Lake Geneva in the west of Switzerland — a country which has kept ski slopes open despite the pandemic, while neighbouring France has closed theirs.

So the chair lifts for La Dole sit empty — because nobody can use the shared car park in France.

“I cannot understand how the French authorities can decide that the Swiss cannot go skiing in their own country. This is a unilateral decision,” fumed Gerard Produit, tourism chief in Switzerland's Nyon region.

“We are being held hostage by the politics of both countries,” he told AFP, deploring the “legal imbroglio”.

The frozen chair lifts are an unwelcome sight for Patrick Freudiger, the boss of the Tele-Dole ski lifts company.

“In mid-December, we organised a meeting between France and Switzerland to present the Covid plan” for La Dole, Freudiger told AFP.

But since the end of December, “we have received three successive orders banning the use of the car park” — the latest one being valid until February 3.

READ MORE: Large crowds on Swiss ski slopes spark concern over coronavirus spread

'They won't listen' 

The prefecture of the Jura local authority in France told AFP the car park is “likely to encourage the gathering of more than six people in a public space in France, the mixing of groups, and therefore the circulation of the virus”.

The wider Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region has the highest intensive care bed occupancy rate in France, while the Jura local authority area has one of the highest Covid-19 incidence rates in the country.

Freudiger is fuming that the French authorities did not try to reach an agreement on access to the car park.

Rubbing salt into the wounds, the site was refurbished last year thanks to Swiss investment, as part of a project to create a cross-border ski destination.

Freudiger also voiced surprise that the car park is shut while car-pooling car parks for French inhabitants who work in Switzerland remain open.

“We tried to get in touch with the prefect; we could not reach him. They do not hear us, they won't even listen to us,” said Produit.

See you in court 

Tele-Dole filed two appeals last Friday to the Besancon administrative court in France over the situation. A hearing is scheduled to take place next Monday.

Switzerland's Nyon region wrote to the Jura authorities on Thursday requesting talks “as soon as possible” on potential solutions and “financial compensation” for Tele-Dole.

According to Freudiger, the ski lifts have already lost 40 working days — almost half the season — and 300,000 Swiss francs (€280,000).

Tele-Dole cannot claim any financial assistance from the Swiss government, because there is nothing to stop ski stations remaining open during the pandemic.

Etienne Bovard, director of La Dole's Swiss Ski School, faces the same headache. The school has around 20 instructors but has had to stop all group lessons.

“In terms of turnover, we are 20 percent down at the moment, and if this continues throughout February… it will amount to an 85 percent loss,” he said.

“What's terrible is that it's the children,” who make up 80 percent of the clientele, “who are victims of this political game”.