Philippe de Vilmorin – The Challenges Facing the Luxury Industry: Balancing Emotion with Rationale

For many women, a hand bag is much more than something in which they carry their personal belongings.

It is a fashion item, a reflection of personal taste, status, and wealth.

Throughout their history, handbags have gradually grown in size. While early handbags were primarily small items that were designed to carry coins, as the decades have passed, handbags have become bigger, reaching sometimes the current outsized extremes flouted by luxury houses at a very hefty price tag. The most expensive handbags have become highly desirable items that are coveted like expensive cars.

One of the intrinsic explanations as to why handbags have acquired such a position in contemporary society is that they seek to define the wearer.

Women’s handbags communicate a lot about their owner’s fashion style, personality, and stability.

Essentially, handbags are an extension of one’s identity.

For this reason, women seek handbags that offer quality, tradition, luxury, and power.

For this article, I am pleased to introduce you to Mr. Philippe de Vilmorin, businessman and President of Delage, a renowned automobile manufacturer for more than a century that now carries in its elegant luxury bags and accessories collections, a legacy in the tradition and French love of “L’Art de Vivre.”

Mr. Philippe de Vilmorin is a descendant of a long line of individuals who celebrated the finer things in life, including Louise de Vilmorin, a famous French writer and artist. Following on these traditions and having benefited from an elite education in Britain and France, it was natural for Mr. Vilmorin to seek a career in a luxury space: “It is in LUXURY that I found the identity of my parents; my parents loved refinement and beauty,” he told me.

Delage is a French luxury automobile and race car company founded in 1905 by Louis Delage in Levallois-Perret near Paris. It attracts widespread acclaim for its luxurious automobiles and develops a worldwide reputation for French excellence and refinement.

The Delage Maison represents the purity and resolute modernity of the exceptional designs the automobiles are famous for, coupled with the eccentricity of the women who contributed to building Delage into a legend. Joséphine Backer, Lucienne Radisse, and Mistinguett are part of the history of this brand as proud ambassadors of these unique automobiles. As a result of their patronage, Delage is widely respected as a promoter of natural femininity. Delage invites one to carry, wear, the Joy of Life.

Delage has an increased widespread popularity in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. In an era that symbolized the emancipation of women, driving a Delage is a sign of independence and stature. Women have their own cash and bank accounts, as well as keys to their property and cars—they want the world to know it.

Delage has a longstanding history of expert craftsmanship, traditional know-how of leather upholstery and above all, an embodiment of modernity in timeless elegance.

There is something to be said about the advice ‘simplicity is elegance.’ But how can we achieve the balance between tradition and modernity? Tradition is a very important quality, but you also must know how to embrace the beauties of the present as you live through different phases in your life.

Delage is a business that understands the importance of balancing the rational with the emotional.

What do we mean by this?

Women seek beauty in handbags. They look for an emblem that reflects their self-image, independence, and identity. Handbag purchases are ultimately very much an emotional decision.

For Delage, sustaining a profitable business in the luxury markets relies on rational decisions such as production expertise, material selections, pricing strategies, and commercial practices which provide the target market with what they are looking for. In parallel to these, come all the brand and product emotions. 

Brands in this space need to demonstrate full respect for the customer and offer a perfect product, whilst also telling the truth: “Today, besides these wealthy and powerful brands that dictate and somewhat control most of the market conditions, another wealth is to be constituted and developed, it consists of a solid and practical respect of principles.  Attached to tradition and transparency, a customer must be explained the real value of a product, how is it actually made and where, what is the trackability of the components, and be presented to a reasonable price.” Mr. Philippe VILMORIN informed me.

The future? Integration

The luxury goods industry has endured various changes over the past two decades. Currently, varying economic trends, rapid digital transformation, and evolving consumer preferences and tastes are creating a new competitive landscape in which the traditional big corporation strategies are under threat.

The rationale of the business represents the price, production, and commercial policies; however, it is curiosity that drives twenty-first-century business. Curiosity helps one understand what is happening around you. Understanding life represents a way to keeping young. The millennials currently account for about 50 percent of revenues and total global market growth. Members of this generation know exactly what they want.

In the future, salesmen will need to assume the role of trainers who guide and advise customers on the fundamentals. The client, who will be more aware of his or her requirements, will look at the finishes and all the manufacturing details that contemporary customers miss because they are hypnotized by labels that no longer sufficiently propose services with the product.

We live in an era of emotional-driven rationale.


Ana Paula Araujo Mendes

Many thanks to:

Philippe de Vilmorin, businessman and President of Delage

Ana Paula Araujo Mendes

Executive Strategic Advisor | Dedicated to Aerospace & Defense industry | International Institutional Relations Manager.