Photo: Daniel Fox
Does the world need another story about millennials talking about their feelings? What if there are 3,000 of them and they’re on a boat? What if that boat was a nearly 165,000-gross-ton cruise ship with two restaurants from Iron Chef Jose Garces, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, a quarter-mile oceanfront promenade, and a choice of Jimmy Buffett venues? What if, also, the world was ending? That’s how this one begins. The gray, sullen morning after the 2016 presidential election, I left New York for Miami, and there boarded a Norwegian Cruise liner, named, appropriately enough, The Norwegian Escape. At the invitation of Cadillac and the Andy Warhol Museum, I was there to climb aboard Summit at Sea—the annual cruise for thought leaders and the millennials who love them—for four primarily Internet- and social media–free days in a destination specified only on various materials as “international waters.” I had spent the long, largely sleepless night before cowering in a sort of paralyzed disbelief as all three branches of the government fell beyond reach in the pinwheeling, overly bright graphics of network television. In retrospect, it was pretty great timing.
Summit, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Elliott Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal, Jeremy Schwartz, and Ryan Begelman, began as a particularly successful ski trip among friends, after which it became a for-profit invitation-only conference series for young professionals. It has since grown to include some several thousand entrepreneurs, artists, and activists, who gather in remote locales (Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Squaw Valley, California; Washington, D.C.) hoping to share their ideas; fund their apps; and, in an ideal scenario, create partnerships that will help build a better world. (Quoth the Summit manifesto: “We believe that the more great people you meet, the more great people you will meet.”) As with any group that expands that much, you don’t get the impression that everyone actually knows one another, though one imagines that the Venn diagram of 30-somethings who will pay thousands of dollars to take Wednesday through Saturday in early November to go on a ship to nowhere in particular and talk about their inner lives among relative strangers is not that large.
Summit gained some notoriety last year, thanks to a New York Times profile about the purchase of Powder Mountain, a ski area, and the sustainable utopian ski town that Summit is building in Eden, Utah. “We believe the future will only be as great as the communities that shape it,” says Summit’s manifesto. Still a work in progress, Powder Mountain is modeled after the “walkable Swiss village of Wengen,” looks a lot like a living Kinfolk spread, and currently hosts some 115 families when it isn’t hosting one of Summit’s mountain sessions, according to information that was made available in scattered promotional leaflets on the boat. The mountain sessions roll out from January through the end of spring ski season and cost about $1,225 per person for a shared bedroom, not including transportation costs. A part of the proceeds of Summit experiences have typically been donated to relevant charities. In 2015, Summit Institute (SI) launched as the official nonprofit arm of Summit, and this year, according to SI materials, its initiatives included “a petition drive to allow the purchase of healthy food online with food stamps; education around the refugee crisis from Team Rubicon Global and UNICEF; training on fair and inclusive hiring practices; information on best practices to extend the Americans With Disabilities Act accessibility to websites; and fundraising to benefit Jon Boogz and Lil Buck’s campaign to use their art to drive support for civil rights and other issues.”
The Norwegian Escape is a massive cruise ship, and so is somewhat incongruous with Summit’s sustainable, utopian vision—especially when it comes to combating global warming. (This may be part of the reason why, next year, Summit will hold its November event on dry land, in downtown Los Angeles, in the format of a “New World’s Fair.”) The Escape has a friendly-looking swordfish the size of a city bus painted on its hull and 20 decks, 15 of which are open to passengers, with most of those floors featuring some sort of entertainment that does not really require the ocean at all. There are 21 bars, more than 25 “dining experiences,” several boutiques, a very large number of slot machines and slightly fewer card tables, a pair of entwined waterslides, scattered hot tubs, and lap pools. There are various types of theaters, ranging from an intimate comedy club called Headliners (replete with Seinfeld-esque “exposed brick” wall) to an enormous Broadway-style setup. There is also a seemingly unending supply of attractive people handing out and receiving free food from participating partners: Brodo bone broth; The Real Coconut tacos; The Fat Radish heirloom carrot salads; spicy sea kelp noodle bowls; and Morgenstern’s ice cream (green tea) with a selection of toppings (freshly crushed pistachios) to fold in. It is possible to walk around this ship and feel as if you are not only still on land, but that you are in fact in a very obliging casino with an unprecedented amount of outdoor space. Summit’s touches were there, though, scattered among the studied beige of the ship’s decor: A small clutch of robed Tibetan monks worked together on a sand mandala in the atrium-cum-lobby on deck 6, and men in tank tops and printed leggings politely queued for cups of Beaming Organic Superfood Café’s low-glycemic-index smoothies nearby. The audio system would be periodically taken over for glib announcements. There was a lot of sheepskin.
At sea, with Summit, one gets the sense that shipping out with a bunch of comely strangers with apps to fund (or fun to find) is the natural conclusion of generations of co–working spaces, social media fanatics, and the FOMO epidemic. But Summit is also a business, and so the experience is easily divided into a few different tracks: that of the activist, the networker, or the vacationer. (These are not mutually exclusive.) This year, Summit had identified a series of core themes and topics to explore while on board: These were Trojan Horses (transformative visionaries and the stories, art, and social action they used to reshape society), Black Turtlenecks and Garages (unorthodox origin stories as relating to various types of leaders), Six Degrees of Separation (how to identify and combat separatism), The Asia Question, Beyond Corn and Soy, Origins, Superhumanification (probing “the outer limits of human potential”), Musicology, and Studio of Expression. Regardless of intent, once on board, everyone makes lingering eye contact, everyone smiles, everyone hugs (“heart to heart,” as one provider of herbal elixirs directed), and everyone is encouraged to share their resources, and ideas, and to make connections that will continue off the boat. It is sort of like business school, only with a lot more touching. A small notepad and pen are supplied in your assigned cabin, in case you need to stop suddenly and brainstorm. A buggy, aqua-colored Summit at Sea app holds everyone’s information (name, job, head shot), an exhaustive schedule, inter-guest messaging capabilities, and some key tips, like to bring sneakers so as to take advantage of the various wellness opportunities (boot camp, basketball, archery tag, a full gym, a type of soccer played within giant blow-up plastic bubbles, an elevated track, and fencing with Olympic medalist Miles Chamley-Watson).
Photo: Daniel Fox
The Community Code distributed in every room and on the app comes down to nine tenets: Ask Questions, Be Respectful, Be of Service, Collaborate, Learn, Be Inclusive, Be Stewards, Grow, and Diversify. These all amount to essentially the same direction, which is: Listen to each other, and don’t be a jerk. As the booklet explains, “Remember that every person here has a story to tell. That he is more than a line on his résumé; that she is more than the last company she founded.” Because social media was banned, Summit had suggested a placeholder for busy Instagram accounts: a glossy ocean sunset with its logo, a pair of white angles as mountain peaks above some squiggly lines (the sea). This motif, the twin peaks, also appeared as a bicolored metal charm on the navy string bracelets handed out upon boarding. “Wear it now if you want, or you can wear it later,” said the 20-something woman passing them out. “They are so someday you can spot someone else wearing one and remember, Hey! We were both here!” Among those who were “here” were Quentin Tarantino, Erin Brockovich, Fab 5 Freddy, Norman Lear, will.i.am, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kendrick Lamar, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Daveed Diggs, Esther Perel, “Supermensch” Shep Gordon, Jermaine Dupri, John Sculley, assorted lifestyle experts, raw food evangelists, a few rock musicians and EDM DJs, Burning Man aficionados, tech successes, aspiring tech successes, teachers of yoga both aerial and terrestrial, a few comedians, spoken-word poets, and three members of the Source Family: Electricity, Isis, and Djin Aquarian.
The most popular conference on the first day was “Surrender, Trust, and Sexual Spirituality,” and it was presided over by a bearded man with a soothing voice and frantic physical gestures. This was David Deida, and this was his first time at Summit, and as he told the audience, he “wasn’t expecting a room of people who looked so ready to fuck!” Most of those gathered were in what you might call resortwear: brightly printed shorts; wide, floppy brimmed hats; and loose, flowing clothes that managed to both touch the floor and expose their midriffs at the same time. Everyone appeared to be from Southern California, or at least on nodding terms with Palm Springs. “Sexuality is like art or like dance,” said Deida, who disembarked shortly after his talk. “You know it when you see it—and you can tell if someone’s good at it right away.” It doesn’t take long to sniff out the air of spring break–style sexual opportunism to at least one part of Summit, except instead of Cancún and Señor Frog’s and 2:00 a.m. raves, it’s sound baths and acai bowls and 2:00 a.m. raves, with the odd visiting luminary thrown in for good measure. (And free Korean latkes from 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. at the Pincho Tacos Bar.) It did not surprise me when an attendee at the meeting of a women’s rights action group interjected that Summit was not above their own “boys club” style ethics, having invited what she called “Instagram models” the year before in “a company-wide quest for more hot girls.” (To that end, previous female Summit-goers have told me that they wouldn’t return based on “fratty” interactions that they had there, some of which were still evident in the consistent hot tub scene and the several mornings that I left for 8 a.m. conferences to see blurry-eyed girls in party dresses carrying their shoes down the hall.)
There is a “whatever you want whenever you want it” element to a cruise ship that dovetails nicely with the millennial experience. Boredom, that great generational affliction, is largely impossible at Summit at Sea; there is always something to watch, someone to talk to, something to eat, somewhere to sit and take it all in. There are seemingly endless opportunities to hear electronic music. Meals are taken together at random; talks and performances are first-come, first-served (the most popular are simulcast around the ship to accommodate interest). There is a daily flower-crown creation bar and nightly meditations, and all of the food is free. It is hard, in fact, to walk down one of the many hallways without passing a table heaped with single-serving sachets of almond flour crackers, hickory-flavored chickpea puffs, sunflower seed cookies, beef jerky, coconut water, kombucha, and herbal energy drinks, all supplied by a company called Wanderfuel. Though the lodgings vary from assigned bunks in windowless interior cabins to airy, spacious suites with balconies and five-digit price tags, there is an air of idealist egalitarianism to the proceedings, at least in the common areas. Attendees vary from the very rich and rather famous to the aspiring and unpaid, but all are welcome to pull up a sheepskin-covered tuffet or an oriental rug to connect, and most do. Under more normal circumstances, this might have felt claustrophobic, but one got the sense that the alternative (back home in the States, at least), wasn’t sounding all that great.
Kendrick Lamar and Quentin Tarantino
Photo: Marshall Birnbaum
Summit’s aim of pursuing a better reality is largely reliant on the idea of a citizenry that is “woke,” meaning one that is awakened to society’s various structural oppressions. In the wake of the election, this took on a whole new urgency. For those who felt that they’d tried the regular route, the political route, canvasing, hosting fundraisers, and haranguing their audiences on platforms both real and digital, there was a very real, very pervasive panic in the air. We were leaders, was the feeling, but what had happened to our followers? What now—what next? An email went out to announce that programs would be rearranged to prioritize healing sessions.
Don’t get uptight about the election, said Shefali Tsabary at the opening-night plenary (an hour-and-a-half-long mixed-media performance featuring a poetry reading, a modern dance performance from Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, and a conversation between poet, playwright, and activist Sonia Sanchez; legendary civil rights activist Dolores Huerta; and LaDonna Harris, the president of Americans for Indian Opportunity). We’ve been through this before; the pendulum swings, said Tsabary, “this is the state of nature.” We’re used to the story of the caterpillar and the butterfly, she said, but not the in-between period, the decomposition and reformation, where things get really messy. We, she explained, are in that messy part.
The previous year’s Summit at Sea had occurred right after the Paris attacks, a handsome French furniture designer remembered from the line outside Jimmy Buffett’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar. “I was devastated; I was mourning,” he said. “Now I feel like everyone else is.” And there were moments on that Wednesday where The Escape felt more like a Viking funeral than a party boat; a groaning dirge barge grieving the loss of a progressive, inclusive, future-loving America that maybe never quite existed in the first place—or at least not outside of the minds of the people on board. “I feel like America died that night,” I found myself saying to a tableful of strangers, as if it hadn’t been just hours ago. A woman in a large, verdant flower crown locked eyes with me, not unsympathetically. “Your America died,” she clarified. We had not yet left the port.
Overnight, The Escape made its way to Nassau, where it docked across from another, equally enormous cruise ship. The effect was not unlike being in one midtown skyscraper and looking across the way at another. The other boat had a leisurely pool scene on the top deck, while ours heaved with bodies, partying, eating, watching, talking. The Tibetan monks were playing ping-pong. An older couple, pale and pillowy in their folded down swimsuits, were sitting out on their balcony on the other side of the divide, an incongruous glimpse of doughy humanity among an Escher-like grid. We blinked at one another across a short stretch of ocean, and I wondered if they’d voted for Donald Trump. On board, all talk pivoted to politics. Conversations kept returning to the 1960s and ’70s, to the opportunity for a new, real, strong progressive movement; the necessity of a good Democratic Party ground game; the new, emboldened role that art might play. “Chaos is an opportunity for creativity,” said House of Cards’s Beau Willimon, at a talk ostensibly about the changing face of media. Willimon went on to organize a day full of hour-long action groups based on the concerns of the community on board, inviting any and all who wanted to brainstorm concrete ways to organize. “It’s one year and 363 days to midterm elections,” said Willimon. “I’m not here to do the waterslide.”
A presentation with actor and activist LeVar Burton and social psychologist and activist Tracy Ann Essoglou turned into a town hall, with the audience taking up passed mics to express their fears and disappointment in the system and one another. “My brother was killed by the police in 1974,” one African-American woman explained. “This is not a new problem.” Another patiently spelled out: “Y’all, America is racist.” There were raised voices and some blame: “It was white women who voted for him,” objected a young woman. “It was the Bernie bros who didn’t vote for her,” spat another. “The simplest answer is usually the right one, and she wasn’t a good enough candidate,” said one man. “That’s what straight white men tell you your whole life!” came a groaned response.
Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson
Photo: Daniel Fox
A man in the middle of the room spoke up. “I thought I was a woke person,” he said, and he was Benjamin C. Evans III, whose powerful, even elocution betrayed his past lives as a minister and motivational speaker. (Evans is now a managing director of BMe Community, which aims to build prosperous, caring communities inspired by black men in America.) “And I’m trying to wake up to how I missed it. I’m surrounded by diversity, I work inclusion, I do all that, and I thought America was on the path forward. And the white lashing that we got is waking me up. But it’s waking me up to start building our own, where we are not dependent on others for our success and for our advancement. We are all waking up. We are waking up to how we need to come together in a stronger, more strategic way, that puts ego aside, that puts mission aside, that says, You know what? Our country can’t afford this . . . . But we have to come together. And everybody has to wake up.”
One audience member who works with troubled youth professionally explained the importance of empathy; trolling members of the alt-right are not so different from the young men he interacts with, he said, who so often lash out from a place of pain and fear. “We have to keep compassion in mind,” he said. “There is hurt. There is a lot of hurt.” A woman stood up and explained how she had left her family at the protests at Standing Rock to be here, to seek a way forward, to expand her world. “I love you,” she said, turning to the room, putting her hand to her heart. “I love you.” Burton coached those present to “stand in love.” You have to organize, to have a voice, to be counted, said Essoglou, but most important, you have to stand up and be heard. One attendee paraphrased James Baldwin; you can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement means the denial of my human rights. Essoglou insisted upon action: Think progress, she said. “If we code what we are, we will create what we already have.” What about women? Essoglou asked—they who have learned to dismiss their own bodies rather than relate to them. “Do we know for sure that the story in our head is the story that we want to project into the future?” Essoglou counseled world expansion by reaching for and reading other voices; opening ourselves up to other lives. “Shake it up,” said Essoglou. “Don’t come to me with the language of disruption and not show me any.” I left feeling the best I had in days.
The boat left Nassau late that night and spent the next day turning in large, lazy circles in the flat, glassy waters near the Bahamas. Tarantino, who had boarded late, walked laps around a painted course on the upper deck in a Hateful Eight baseball tee. The Tibetan monks were taking pictures of one another by the deck railing, with nothing but sea behind them. There was a preponderance of young people wearing baseball caps affixed with tiny chalkboards at the crown that read things like Pleasure and Thank You!! : D and had little pieces of chalk attached at the brim. Inside, Baratunde Thurston and Carl Bernstein spoke about the complicity of major news media in the election of Trump; Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server; her campaign-sinking reference to “deplorables”; and the roles that Facebook, social media, the self-indulgent nature of selfies, Julian Assange, and Russia had all played in the election. Thurston translated each of the audience’s questions as being preceded with “What the fuck,” as in: “What the fuck, Facebook?” and “What the fuck, James Comey?”
“History makes me hopeful,” said Thurston at the end of the talk. “I’m hopeful in the knowledge that there is a cycle to this, that some of the best culture comes out of distress and under duress, that some of the most deep and meaningful connections come out of the pain. People who have been at war actually miss it, because their values were tested and followed through.” He paraphrased Tsabary from the plenary: “Had Hillary won, by just a vote, we wouldn’t be doing this. We would have allowed ourselves to believe our delusions. And that’s been ripped away. Remember: There’s a lot of bullshit; there are a lot of lies. There’s a little hope. A lot of people are going to get hurt. People are going to die. They probably already are. Mosques are being attacked because of the rhetoric that’s been promoted. Little gay girls and boys are going to feel less comfortable coming forward. Police are going to feel emboldened, and oversight committees less so. There’d a very real cost to all of this. As one of the founders of Black Lives Matter—who is on this boat—said, it’s not a game. It’s real life. And even though you lost some of those lives, there’s hope, because we’ve been through all this before. Hopefully not all of this,” Thurston qualified. “Hopefully it’s not an exact circle, but an escalating spiral, where we revisit themes, but not the exact same sins. That’s what I’m hopeful for.”
Afterward, an impromptu conference was announced in the ship’s formal dining room, in which sat a Palestinian activist named Ali Abu Awwad; an Orthodox rabbi, teacher, and self-described “passionate Zionist settler” named Hanan Schlesinger; Roelf Meyer, a onetime leading member of South Africa’s National Party and the apartheid government’s “fair-haired boy”; and Ebrahim Rasool, the leading African National Congress activist whom Meyer had personally imprisoned during apartheid. The talk was moderated by Timothy Phillips, the cofounder of Beyond Conflict, a global nonprofit initiative that helped catalyze the field of transitional justice in areas like post-communist Europe and El Salvador. Awwad and Schlesinger now work together as part of Roots, a grassroots nonprofit movement based in the West Bank. Meyer and Rasool have toured with Beyond Conflict to talk about the end of apartheid and how it became a global model for peace. All of the men spoke about incredible acts of empathy, both personal and political. None offered any hard-and-fast solutions beyond outreach, understanding, and a suggestion to attempt the same. If we can do this, they seemed to say, you can listen to a Trump voter.
Photo: Adam Blazer
“Two days ago, when we were driving up to port in Miami, we saw these two men at an intersection who looked like they may have been homeless,” said Phillips, “and one was bent over and the other was holding a sign that read, ‘We are the deplorables.’ The other man had a sign that read, ‘Now you see us.’” He went on, “There are a lot of Americans who feel not seen. What does a child need? To be seen and made to feel safe. That doesn’t leave as you grow up and become a politician or an activist . . . . What I hear from our friends is that when you strip away ideology, anger, politics, type, names, you see the search for dignity. People want to be seen, but not as you see me but as I see myself.” We, as Americans, had for so long been caterers, he continued, we were going to these other countries and bringing all these ideas and solutions with us. Lately, it’s more that we’re eating from their tables. Said Meyer, “America is stronger than one man.” Said Awwad, from despair comes hope: “You don’t act when conditions are normal. You act when conditions are not normal, when they force you to act.” History, they continued, standing together in small clumps after the talk and shaking hands with the audience members, does not move only forward; sometimes it leaps and pivots and plunges, sometimes it shudders and shifts, mostly it moves a lot like an ocean liner, turning in the smallest of degrees.
In order to have a successful Summit—and this is the way people talk about Summit, as in, “How is your Summit?”—one has to be able to hold a lot of oppositions in the same place. You are fighting for climate change on a gigantic, pollutive cruise ship, with all the surging electricity and filmy plastic cups and chemical agents and fuel that implies. You are promoting feminism while at least one charismatic speaker will tell a full theater about his fond memories of the free-love era and the secretaries he would cajole into giving him blow jobs. You are involved in an inherently exclusive experience to talk about inclusion and empathy. Businessmen will trade their suits for beaded bracelets, short woven capes, drop-crotch pants, and kaleidoscopic leggings, to talk about product viability and market disruption. The class system will wiggle its way back in, as it always does. The patriarchy will continue to prevail, despite all best efforts. A man at the herbal elixir bar will ask for a hug and hold on just a few beats too long. But then, you hugged him in the first place.
I will admit that I wanted to hate Summit, in the way that most people want to hate things that they don’t understand. I didn’t want to believe that all this time people were going to Burning Man for more than just the drugs, occasional nudity, and the chance to regress in a crazy outfit; that psychotropics actually can make you see differently; that romantic advice offered by a stranger with a book deal could be useful; that someone who pays a few thousand dollars so that he can walk around a big, crazy ship in a cape with some sort-of celebrities on board is not just a jackass. Under different circumstances, I certainly could have stayed believing all of those things. They were all trying so hard, is how I had felt, and that was pathetic. But things had changed, for all of us, and here we were, a boat full of seekers who hugged heart to heart, people who really want to change the world, or who would at least be into it if you suggested it, and we really needed to try. The fear and distrust that had allowed me to make fun of people who were trying so hard to see the good didn’t make me all that different than the people who’d voted in favor of a man who lit a match and fanned the flames of hate instead. And so I couldn’t hate Summit, despite its harem of hypocrisies. I even kind of enjoyed it.
As we disembarked the next day back in Miami, a pervasive smell of baby powder in the air and the sound system in every room blaring Sonny Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day,” the crew members and Summit team danced and rubbed their eyes in the manner of camp counselors who have been up all night doing adult things while their charges slept, and there were no more free acai bowls to grab, and I started to feel sad, suddenly, about it all being over so soon, about being on a dream that has docked. But as people walked the gangplank back into cell service and reclaimed their luggage, exchanged information, and made plans (a Summit-planned decompression night awaited at various Miami locales), it felt like a little bit of hope; that maybe a whole new generation was being born out of this latest fiery crash. Perhaps a new, strong, solid progressive movement was on the horizon, after all. Perhaps it was already on board. All that was left to do was wake up.
Welcome to Wanderson, the weird, colourful, and wonderful world of Wes Anderson, where liberally perfumed lobby boys rule the roost and shark hunting sailors sail the seas. And that’s before we get to the clothing. Indeed, from headbands to head bandages, Peter Pan collars to drawn on moustaches, Wes and his team are responsible for some of the most iconic looks to have graced the silver screen. Here are a few of our favourites.
Chas, Richie, and Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums
They say that two is company and three’s a crowd, well this crowd of people sure know how to dress. From Margot’s black eyeliner and bobby pins to Chas’ full adidas look, not to mention Richie’s signature headband and sunnies, the Tenenbaum trio are as stylish as they come.
Steve Zissou in The Life Aquatic with Steve
What could be more stylish than rocking a red beanie, an aquamarine short-sleeved shirt with matching trousers, and personalised adidas kicks? Having the entirety of your submarine crew rocking it all too. Steve Zissou nails synchronised dressing in The Life Aquatic. The perfect outfit for finding the shark that ate your friend and destroying it.
Max Fischer in Rushmore
Geek chic has always been a thing, Just ask Enid from Ghostworld, Laney Boggs from She’s All That, or even Barb from Stranger Things. Feel like swatting up your look this season? Make like geek chic OG Max Fischer in Rushmore, with a heady combo of the following: Safety goggles, a bottle green velvet suit, mustard yellow shirt with matching dickie bow, red beret, navy blazer and, last but not least, braces (the dental kind).
Suzy Bishop in Moonrise Kingdom
Coping with a troubled child can be tough, but when they’re as mischievously inclined and prone to adventure as Suzy Bishop, things are that much harder. Although with her iconic blue eye-shadow, Peter Pan collars, binoculars, high socks and pink dress, she looks like butter wouldn’t melt. Oh but it would…
Zero in The Grand Budapest Hotel
The colour of rain (well, according to Prince), purple was the order of the day in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Make like liberally perfumed lobby boy, Zero, with purple britches, a matching coat and a bell-boy hat, team with a hand-drawn moustache and you should be good to go. Trop chic!
Natalie Portman in Hotel Chevalier
Buttercup, lemon, amber, flaxen, whatever shade you want to call it, Natalie Portman’s yellow dressing gown in Hotel Chevalier will go down in history as one of the chicest night to day looks of all time. Or is it day to night? Big props to her pixie crop too.
Francis in Darjeeling Limited
One question. What happened to your head? From geek chic to invalid chic, headbands to head bandages, unlike his fellow Wanderson compatriots, Francis sure got the short end of the sartorial stick. But he actually looks kind of cool. He carries a very stylish Louis Vuitton travel bag, an exquisitely tailored suit, and those bandages give him character. We dig it.
Dignan in Bottle Rocket
With his buzz-cut (no, he’s not in the army he just likes short hair), and buttoned up polo-shirts, his neutral palette of browns, whites, yellow, and beige, criminal “mastermind” Dignan might be an unlikely style icon, but then can’t you imagine him as the star of one of Al McLellan’s beautifully shot campaigns? Think about it…
Foxy in Fantastic Mr. Fox
Mustard yellow corduroy suit, foxy fur and whiskers. Need we say more?
Pour assurer leur croissance, les marques du luxe doivent travailler leur clientèle locale, pense Olivier Abtan. Il ne s’agit pas d’ouvrir des magasins à tout va, mais d’optimiser la performance d’aujourd’hui, notamment en revenant aux basiques du retail : proposer un marketing adapté à la clientèle, améliorer l’expérience client en magasin… « Les marques du luxe doivent apprendre des industries à faibles marges, qui font tout cela de manière naturelle ».
Pour Aude Gandon, directrice du branding chez Google, les marques ne doivent pas oublier de communiquer sur leur histoire et leur savoir-faire. « C’est bien souvent leur craftmanship si particulier qui les différencie des autres ». Un point de vue que rejoint Arthur de Kersauson : « un moyen pour les marques de ne pas se tromper, c’est de se reposer sur ses valeurs. Il ne s’agit pas de faire du buzz à tout prix… »
Intéressant, mais est-ce bien suffisant ? Axelle Lemaire, Secrétaire d’État auprès du ministre de l’Économie et des Finances, chargée du Numérique et de l’Innovation se pose la question. « L’uberisation et la disruption que l’on constate partout vont-elles aussi avoir un effet sur le luxe ? » Derrière cette interrogation, une idée un peu angoissée que si l’industrie venait à se diluer, c’est toute la « représentation forte et symbolique de ce qu’est la France aujourd’hui » qu’elle porte qui pourrait s’en trouver affectée. Pour autant, Axelle Lemaire croit fermement qu’allier les compétences permettra de construire les nouveaux modèles économiques. « L’industrie n’a jamais attendu pour innover. Il a fallu, face à une décroissance des emplois en France, mais aussi en Europe, se réinventer. Ce qui est nouveau aujourd’hui, c’est que l’on introduit le mot ‘’ouverture’’ dans cette innovation. C’est une petite révolution culturelle qui est à l’œuvre ».
Pour elle, le monde feutré et silencieux du luxe ne se heurte pas à celui, plus bruyant, des startups : ils se rencontrent. « C’est bénéfique dans les produits et les idées qui en résultent ». Tout l’enjeu consiste à prendre le virage en intégrant le plus d’innovation possible dans la RD pour se numériser et concurrencer les grandes plateformes. « Je lance un appel à la FashionTech : la France doit, et peut, être à ce rendez-vous du nouveau luxe ».
Une symbiose qui résonne avec le credo de Jiang Qiong Er, fondatrice de Shang Wia. Le nom de sa marque caractérise une philosophie chinoise : celle qui consiste à trouver le bon équilibre entre les opposés. Le ciel et la Terre, le passé et l’avenir, la tradition et la technologie. « Ce qui est important, ce n’est pas de faire un choix, mais de trouver le juste milieu ».
Pour Charles-Edouard Bouée, CEO de Roland Berger, 2016 est l’année où le monde tel qu’on le connaît est en train de sombrer. « Les institutions sont au bord des falaises ; ceux qui sont survivront sont ceux qui prennent le large : les auto-entrepreneurs, les travailleurs nomades… ». Selon lui, les deux sujets sur lesquels les marques devront se pencher, sont l’intelligence artificielle et la réalité virtuelle / augmentée. « Les marques de luxe possèdent le passé et le présent. Pour posséder le futur, il leur faudra de l’agilité, avoir une empreinte légère, se focaliser sur la technologie mais pas uniquement sur le digital, et intégrer de nouvelles cultures ».
Des cultures qui pourraient venir vraiment d’ailleurs… Cédric Villani, mathématicien, directeur de l’Institut Henri-Poincaré et professeur à l’université de Lyon, il ne fait aucun doute qu’un jour on trouvera des ingénieurs dans les équipes des grands créateurs. « Le numérique s’immisce dans tous les secteurs. Il pourra aider les maisons de luxe à créer des pièces et fabriquer des choses par l’effort de la pensée, mais aussi en amont à prévoir, à créer des concept . Les réflexes seront différents… »