Behind the label – underneath the glamour
We take a look at a book that explains how one of the biggest clothing, cosmetics and fragrance brands was managed away from the glamour of the catwalk.
Iconic Fashion Label
The story of how Coco Chanel was born into poverty in rural France and grew to become the stylish founder of what is now an iconic fashion label is well known.
The story of how her successor Karl Lagerfeld was born into privilege and was selected to reinvent the label following the founder’s death is also widely known.
Creative and Commercial Success
Regardless of whether the label is high fashion or high street successful fashion labels often seem to have a personality as their public focal point, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, or George Davis with George at Asda. But for a label to be both creatively and commercially successful the designer has to have a commercial expert to run the business.
For Gianni Versace, it was his brother Santos, for Yves Saint Laurent it was Pierre Berge, and at Chanel the business brain was, for many years Maureen Chiquet.
Outside the industry Maureen Chiquet was an unknown figure until the publication of her memoir, Beyond the Label.
Maureen Chiquet charts her own improbable path from studying literature to be the global chief executive of Chanel.
She encourages readers to move beyond the confines of staid expectations and discover their own true paths, strengths, and leadership values.
Driven. Shy. Leader. Wife. Mother.
We live says Maureen Chiquet in a world of labels and categories that we use to tell the world and ourselves who we are and what we do.
There are labels that we aspire to, and then there are also labels that make us feel uncomfortable.
Labels that Represent Us
Creating a life that is truly a representation of ourselves is dependent on identifying labels that we can use that define the person that we really are and the person that we want to be.
In Beyond the Label Maureen Chiquet seeks to inspire a new generation of women by sharing the inklings, risks and defining moments that have shaped her exemplary career, to cultivate a way of living and leading that is all their own.
Story-telling as guidance
Chiquet is a vivid entertaining storyteller who used provocative insights into her own life to guide readers through a series of questions that invite us to challenge the inherent paradoxes of creating a successful and fulfilling life in a world that is ever more complex and increasingly competitive.
Why she asks should we separate art from business, feelings from logic, intuition from judgment?”
As both men and women strive for ways to increase flexibility in the way we work Chiquet asks who decided that it isn’t possible to be both career minded and flexible, introspective and attuned, a parent and a top executive?
Femininity as a Strength
Perhaps most interestingly for a reader who has spent his career working in HR alongside women who seemed to be striving to cast their femininity aside she asks why women believe that embracing femininity, won’t make them stronger?”
Full of Examples
Beyond the Label is a book full of examples.
From her childhood fascination with everything French, her education at Yale, her first job at L’Oréal, her climb up the ladder at The Gap to become president of Banana Republic and, finally, her years as global CEO at Chanel, Chiquet reveals her experience as a business leader, a wife and a mother.
Her successes, failures and defining moments – at work and at home – impart valuable lessons that any reader, female or male won’t learn in business school.
A Book for All
Although this is a book targeted at working women regardless of the stage of their careers, the Work Work Work team believe that Beyond the Label is an interesting and enjoyable read for any reader regardless of gender.