Leading Lalique

When WAG was invited to “Discover the New Universe of Lalique” during the legacy brand’s first-ever lifestyle presentation in Manhattan, we looked forward to the chance to chat with Silvio Denz, the company’s chairman and CEO.

We had met the most personable Denz briefly at Lalique events over the years — most memorably in 2013. That occasion was at the new Lalique Interiors Showroom in Manhattan for the unveiling of Lalique Maison, a collection of Art Deco-inspired furniture and interior design accessories. From that first encounter, we realized Denz was passionate about Lalique, clearly respecting the venerable brand’s rich heritage in jewelry and the decorative arts, while striving to transform it into a luxury lifestyle brand tailored to the contemporary client.

And on this day at The Pool Lounge of the Seagram Building, we saw that certainly remained true.

Amid well-lit crystal, jewelry that dazzled in its own right and an array of intoxicating fragrances, company representatives guided us through the sophisticated space, showcasing Lalique’s six “pillars” that include jewelry, decorative objects, fragrance, interior design, art and hospitality.

We heard about the creation process for some of Lalique’s newest additions, from the latest crystal designs, which seemed to glow as you entered the lounge, to new jewelry collections, including Trois Hirondelles and Eurydice, plus the new Cabochon Epis Rings. We saw sculptures of various motifs, while nearby, videos took us on a virtual trip into Lalique’s hospitality forays. These notably include French properties Villa René Lalique in Wingen-sur-Moder and Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Bommes-Sauternes, which opened this past June.

A HANDS-ON APPROACH

Then, we had the chance to talk to Denz, who graciously shared his thoughts.

“There’s a lot of things going on,” he agreed, with a smile.

Denz, the epitome of a hands-on leader who’s always on the go, seemed pleased to be back again in New York on what he told us was one of the two or three extended trips he takes each year. These several-week journeys often start in the Middle East, continue on to the Far East and then take him across America, from West to East Coast, before heading back to Europe.

It gives him the chance to check in on all of Lalique’s concerns, this time in particular the company’s new Japanese office and flagship store in Tokyo.

“It’s important,” he told us. “You can’t manage a company by just sitting in your office.”

Denz said his time is more often split “traveling within Europe,” between the company headquarters in Zurich and France, both Paris and the factory in Alsace, as well as London.

He also owns five vineyards in the Bordeaux region, which he can easily visit.

“With the train from Paris, it’s an hour and a half,” he told us.

While Villa René Lalique, onetime home to the master artist/designer himself, was restored to honor its original design and homelike atmosphere, the latest hotel, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, has a more thematic approach, Denz said, with its interiors and décor inspired by the “colors of the wine, the colors of the Sauterne vine.”

No matter the site, Lalique boutique or luxury hotel, Denz said being on the ground, assessing the holdings across the globe — and the response each receives — is crucial.

“You can see what works,” he stated simply.

MOVING FORWARD

Denz — also the owner and chairman of Art & Fragrance S.A., a Zurich-based group devoted to luxury goods — is no stranger to this world. He grew up surrounded by his family’s cosmetics and fragrance business and inherited his father’s interest in fine wines. Today, Denz is not only a wine collector and vineyard owner but also an avid art collector and is involved in real estate.

This depth of experience only adds to his worldwide perspective and insight into both the Lalique customer — and the market.

“New York, obviously, is very important to us,” he continued, with Lalique North America a key part of the company equation. Since its earliest days, he said, “America was really important — America is important.”

We told Denz we had just seen breathtaking — and historic — Lalique designs in “Jewelry: The Body Transformed,” the expansive exhibition that continues through Feb. 24 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the incarnation of its classic Crystal Cabochon Ring in The Met Store. Yes, he said, this was yet another collaboration, following a similar effort with the Opéra national de Paris.

Such collaborations, he said, help cultivate a wider clientele, reaching people who come to the brand “not only for our art side but for the culture.”

Lalique’s collaborations have featured artist Damien Hirst, music icon Elton John, The Macallan Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Steinway & Sons Piano.

“You see Lalique all over the place,” Denz said.

There are always opportunities, he added,  that provide “the possibility to expand.”

He referenced the teaming with Singapore Airlines, for example, which he called an “amazing platform.”

It’s not only a way to reach the passengers, he said, with the designs for the cabins — but also through incentives such as mileage programs that can introduce travelers to Lalique’s creations and destinations.

All, he concluded, is designed to “bring people into the world of Lalique, the savoir faire, the savoir vivre.”

From its start in 1888 — with the 130th anniversary marked in 2018 — the company continues to combine the timeless with the contemporary.

“I bought Lalique 10 years ago,” Denz said, noting great strides have been made in this first decade. When he purchased the company, Denz told us, nearly all Lalique products were its signature crystal. Today, crystal accounts for a third of the company’s production. “But there are still a lot of things to be done.”

And we can’t wait to see what those will be.

For more, visit lalique.com.

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