As the conversation around gender equality has evolved in the wider business sector, progress towards parity is occurring in the Luxury industry as well. While many of the top luxury brands' houses are led by men, some of the most renowned are helmed by women who have helped to redefine their respective labels for the modern era. As a woman who has worked for premium fashion houses such as LVMH, Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gautier, and Givenchy—for their perfumes, cosmetics, and champagne department—I can see the changes occurring in the industry and how many houses are now striving to be leaders in adapting to equality and making women's voices heard in the boardroom and beyond. We haven't achieved this yet, and there's still room for improvement, but reflecting on my own experiences and those of the women who have made it to the top thus far, the future is in good hands.
Throughout my career, I've learned a few things that have helped me succeed and also led me to my current role at Pantheone Audio, where I have been able to recreate what luxury and design means to me, which is returning back to basics: Time, nature, respectful relationships, and conscientious work.
Embrace Your Femininity As Your Strength To Change The Narrative
Today, the flow of women into business and organizations is at a historical high, and yet the challenge to achieve all that we want seems to come at great cost to ourselves, our life's balance, our wholeness, happiness, and yes…to our femininity. It is all too easy to conclude that the only way to succeed in "a male-dominated industry" is to abandon the woman within and take on only traditionally masculine traits of leadership, personality, and values. But history proves this is a disempowering lie.
Gender inequality is an issue for many industries, and the luxury industry is no different, and yet in spite of every single roadblock women have encountered, we still manage to prevail. What I have found to be helpful in my career is to continue to embrace my personality, my femininity, and my approach to work is to associate with like-minded people who are supportive. Having this support system has allowed me to be myself and unafraid to ask for help when needed. Additionally, throughout my career, I have worked to learn from my peers and the people I've encountered to continue to grow and raise my standards in my professional journey.
It's important for women in the creative space to own our feminine attributes and give ourselves permission to shine through our leadership skills, charisma, relationships, influence, and capacity to relate to those around us. Instead of adhering to the restrictions women have encountered for years and feeling that I need to adapt to industry norms, I have found that when I instead trust myself and allow myself to be who I am that I am more creative, confident, and a better leader.
Instead of adhering to the restrictions women have encountered for years and feeling that I need to adapt to industry norms, I have found that when I instead trust myself and allow myself to be who I am that I am more creative, confident, and a better leader.
By creating something, we create ourselves, and we gain access to a part of fundamental knowledge. So for me, creating my own voice—an eminently feminine voice that goes beyond feminism to be more humanist—allowed me to experience growth, empowerment, and pride.
Be Aware Of The Male Gaze
We look at ourselves and others every day in many ways. It's no secret that fashion, advertising, magazines, and social media have been guilty of shaping the way women are viewed and portrayed around men's views to sell a product, advance a plotline, and set a standard for beauty.
For me, as a woman working in luxury, I noticed that the industry tends to push women as a visual object meant for the "male gaze." This, in turn, contributes heavily to the oppression of female consumers and influences the perception of female beauty and the impossible pursuit of perfection. This is why it is important for women in the industry to be aware of the unconscious role we play in the 'gazing' or depiction of women in this way, and strive to use that awareness to reimagine how we create, design, and portray our product.
It is important for women in the industry to be aware of the unconscious role we play in the 'gazing' or depiction of women in this way, and strive to use that awareness to reimagine how we create, design, and portray our product.
Because personally, it is only by creating for these brands that I have been able to trust myself, trust my feelings, my intuition, know how to tell it, and share it through a narration that can touch all sensibilities, not just mine.
Be Socially Aware And Keen To Perception
Luxury isn't what it used to be. The shift in consumer values of younger generations and the rise of social media have prioritized trends and current events over classic symbols. I now find that to work in this industry, especially as a creative or designer, you need to have a combined sensitivity to the world around you, cultural understanding, and education in true beauty. You also have to know how to capture the spirit of the times in your creations.
We live in a time where everything is moving quickly, times are changing, and we want to make more for less. I find, though, that even with the fast pace of today, it is so important when approaching new work to take time to know exactly what you want to create, how you want it to express your vision, and how it ultimately should look, feel, sound and taste. This preparation and thoughtfulness then allow you to be mindful of your creation and to make sure that through every step of the process, you are focusing on making your work better and relevant to the current time and trends.
The Importance of Feminism In The Creative World
The luxury creative space, much like feminism, never stops evolving and changing — adapting to the specific social justice issues of every generation. I am very happy to see that the world of fashion is actually merging with feminism to positively change the industry to be more inclusive and empowering. In fact, many feminist activists now collaborate with this industry. They see this approach not as a contradiction but rather as a new means of influence, given that working alongside these brands provides women with a global platform. Luxury brands have enormous strike force and potential for global communication. We must use this visibility we currently have in the world to serve urgent causes, such as the feminist struggle and drive changes that will make a lasting impact.
In my opinion, whether big corporations are genuinely feminist doesn't really matter; what matters is that they elicit tangible results, visibility, and sharing of engaging content. And, in a fitting reversal, feminism has become one of the marketing levers in this sector. I am very optimistic about the future of the luxury fashion and creative industry and believe if we all work together, we can figure out how to make fashion a tool for empowerment.
WRITTEN BYAnne-Claire Bottos