The group consisted of four dozen young people dressed in black, with their sleeves raised, who filed onto the Paris stage to do what TikTok has millions doing every day: flail their arms in unison.
Yet this gathering was to convince people that being an influencer is not really a “métiers d’excellence,” but making wine barrels, jewelry, handbags or makeup formulations is.
About 1,100 people assembled in the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris on Tuesday afternoon to spotlight efforts by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to attract future generations to careers in creative, craftsmanship and client-experience fields.
French luxury giant Loewe brought in Jonathan Anderson (creative director at Loewe), retired basketball star Tony Parker, Sadeck Waff (street-dance guru) and other top-ranking executives to help boost interest in jobs in the booming luxury sector.
Bernard Arnault is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH. He was well-known for his frequent visits to department stores, boutiques, and workshops. This video addresses his passion for the merchandising industry and the people who create it.
“Regardless of our role with the group, it is essential to always maintain this contact with our products and with all those that contribute to them,” he said. “Long-term desirability counts more than anything else” and artisans “give these products that intangible touch of soul that so many envy.”
His message to the younger generations? “In a few years, you will become custodians of unique know-how, so that 50 years from now, people will continue to revel in tasting Dom Pérignon Champagne, or in wearing a Dior dress, Chaumet jewelry or a Louis Vuitton handbag.”
French luxury goods association Comité Colbert estimates that brands will need 20,000 more skilled craftspeople in France to meet demand, representing a major challenge for the industry.
LVMH stated that it plans to hire 3,000 people from these areas by 2024.
“A war for talent” is how Chantal Gaemperle, executive vice president of human resources and synergies at LVMH, characterized the situation on Tuesday.
“It’s our number-one challenge, and our number-one opportunity,” she said in an interview after the two-hour variety show, which concluded with a giant group photo that had LVMH group managing director Toni Belloni kneeling alongside young athletes from Parker’s Adéquat Academy in Lyon, France, which provides them education and training, and help finding jobs.
Videos were screened showing young people dazzled after visiting luxury department store Le Bon Marché, or the workrooms of couture house Dior.
“We are very lucky to have such an ecosystem of wonderful brands that excite and attract interest and admiration,” Gaemperle allowed. “But I would say that’s not enough.…What people will be looking for is the right culture, the right values, the possibility to learn and the possibility to have an impact.”
LVMH, the parent company of brands like Givenchy, Tiffany and Hublot, has increased its recruitment efforts by holding large-scale events in France and Italy. On Tuesday, 63 of the group’s “virtuosos” were recognized on stage and handed a gold and diamond badge crafted in Chaumet’s Place Vendôme ateliers.
Gaemperle stated that the company’s first job was to exalt jobs that require artisanal, creative, and retail skills. It has identified 280 specialty metiérs across its 75 brands in fashion and leather goods, perfumes and cosmetics, wines and spirits, watches and jewelry, hospitality and specialty retailing.
Gaemperle reports that 8 percent of young people are interested in artisanship, partly due to lack of awareness.
Among its arsenal of initiatives is an outreach program targeting middle-school children and inspiring them to consider vocational training; a roving “orientation” tour offering training and jobs, and an in-house institute that welcomed 450 apprentices in seven countries this year. To improve employee skills, the French group has 36 schools in LVMH Maisons.
LVMH established its Institut des Métiers d’Excellence work/study program in 2014. It intends to launch the Italian Craft Prize next.
For Anderson’s segment, stage hands wheeled out four looks from Loewe’s spring 2023 runway show, including a flaring floral-print T-shirt made of iron. Workers were seen spray-painting, welding, and hammering the unusual garment in a video montage.
“It’s about pushing things. How do you find newness in craft?” the designer told the crowd, regaling them with tales of his trips to Japan to discover master basket weavers, how his grandfather’s ceramics collection sparked his curiosity about how things are made, and how his pannier dresses for spring were actually based on the shape of a man’s jacket draped over the hips.
He told the crowd he first considered becoming an actor but then “fell into” fashion, starting off doing windows and theater costumes before launching his JW Anderson brand.
His advice for aspiring fashion designers: “You have to roll with the punches. It’s like a marathon,” he related. “And I always say that you should never compromise.”
Gaemperle described an urgent need to “plant the seeds today” in order to attract more people to specialized vocations. “It takes seven years to develop the skills in order to become a jewelry-maker, for example,” she said. “It means we need to act today to fill the needs that exist, and that will be urgent in five year’s time.”