It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

Subscribe to the Fashion Abecedaire newsletter

Twitter @FashionAbecedai

Email: fashionmemex(at)

For three weeks in September, I was engulfed in an online chess game with my dad. We played on a virtual board available on the Hermès website as part of its Jeu d’échecs géant, Giant chess game. 

Hermès’ Chess Heritage

Starting with the landing page featuring the knight prominently, Hermès is calling on its equestrian heritage. Chess pieces have adorned silk scarves in the past and in January 2012, the French leather company released a Taurillon leather board with hand-sculpted rose wood (the whites) and mahogany (the blacks) pieces, the latest in a series of chess boards including made-to-measure traveling games.

The house however chose not to highlight this heritage in the Jeu d’échecs experience. Its introduction is limited to a poem on the history of chess and the possibility to relive legendary parties. Hermès could have built a microsite dedicated to the links between the brand and the game. By choosing not to and by limiting branding to a minimum, Hermès has created an experience more about the game and its players than itself.

A Smart Branding Move

With its chess game, Hermès jumped on the gamification bandwagon. It encourages people to come back to its website in a selfless manner: you can play without ever browsing the digital commerce site. No data capture is required. The game is about you, not about how the brand can best benefit from your digital life, as is so often the case.

Hermès is creating good memories and social link with an online experience going beyond the usual digital share: you can challenge a friend but you can’t broadcast your every move on social media, as the temptation could be. This is a smart game, for smart people.

This emphasis on the personal mirrors the luxury experience of the Hermès customer. Although tweaks are required to make playing seamless, it is already an elegant and classy experience where transaction is secondary.

What Hermès Can Improve

The online game is an exact reproduction of Hermès’ Taurillon leather board. The experience is sleek and easy to play yet if the brand aims for this to pick up, it should release a version offering more views of the board (at the moment it’s either lateral or from above). It would also be good to keep track of the taken pieces at all times.

The emails need sorting out: at the moment, you receive a notification for every move your adversary makes. These emails should contain a picture of the board as it now stands, rather than the same image of the knights. They should direct you straight to your game, rather than to a page you have to click on to reach it.

Images: Hermès blue and red silk scarf “Echecs II” by Pierre Peron 1975, Vintage traveling Hermès chess board

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: hermès, online communication, gamification, email marketing, Social media,.

Cartier’s magical online festive experience, Cartier Winter Tale, where the panther, feline emblem of the French luxury jewellery brand, walks and jumps through a snowy fantasy world sprinkled with jewels, calls for comparison with the cinema adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Both creations display snow-covered landscapes, fantastic journeys, magical metaphors and luxury items. In Cartier’s wonderland however, it’s both winter and Christmas.

Images 1, 3, 6, 8 - screencaps from Cartier

Image 2 from The Wardrobe Door

All other images are screencaps from The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Disney DVD

Posted at 3:17pm and tagged with: Brand communication, Cartier, Classy film, christmas, online communication, Luxury brand,.

Very exactly 27 minutes ago, an email reached my inbox from UK Harper’s Bazaar. The newsletter informed me that David Lynch and Marion Cotillard had teamed up for Lady Blue Shanghai, the newest Dior fashion film.

So far, so good. Except the film was released ten days ago, on May 15th. By now, the fashion blogosphere has moved on to the next piece of fashion news (this morning: Giles at Ungaro).

Harper’s Bazaar newsletter also promises exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. It can’t be that exclusive considering that it is embeded on the Dior website, widely available to everyone, including people who don’t receive the Harper’s Bazaar newsletter.

Fashion magazines might be slightly annoyed that Dior chose to release Lady Blue Shanghai exclusively on a number of high-end, well-respected fashion blogs, including Fashionista. Today’s blast from Harper’s Bazaar might be the result of advertising constraints. Either way, it looks stupid and Harper’s Bazaar looks like it is getting its fashion news ten days after everyone.

Posted at 11:47am and tagged with: Brand communication, Harper's Bazaar, Dior, online communication,.