2018 French-American Luxury Exchange


Hosted by the French-American Chamber of Commerce-NY, the French-American Luxury Exchange is a premier conference for luxury, fashion, beauty and lifestyle professionals from French and American brands. Launched in 2016, the 2017 edition was held in Paris and the 2018 edition came back to New York City at the esteemed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Luxury is in the DNA of French brands, with celebrated Maisons Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Kering, L’Oréal, Berluti, LVMH, Hermès, Longchamp, Chanel, Christian Louboutin and more among the members of the Chamber of Commerce. Complementing the French savoir-faire are the American brands, among them Rent the Runway, Milk Makeup and Calvin Klein, who are fueling the discussion around luxury and reinventing traditional fabrication, design and business models.

The French-American Luxury Exchange aims to create dialogue between these two communities, bringing together industry executives, innovators and passionate business professionals to exchange about today’s most pertinent topics.



On Thursday June 7th, 2018  200 luxury, fashion and beauty executives gathered at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center for the 3rd annual French-American Luxury Exchange. After having taken place in Paris in 2017, the FACC was delighted to return to NYC and welcome attendees to this premier venue.

The afternooon began with opening remarks from Elsa Berry, FACC President and Founder and Managing Director of Vendôme Global Partners, who reiterated the FACC’s commitment to promoting, helping and connecting French and American businesses in both directions before welcoming to the stage the first keynote speaker of the afternoon, Steve Shiffman- CEO of Calvin Klein Inc.

Since his promotion to CEO in 2014, Steve Shiffman has been focused on transforming Calvin Klein into one of the world’s greatest global lifestyle brands. He has spearheaded the creative revolution at the company by restructuring key areas and hiring one of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world, Raf Simons. During his keynote, Shiffman touched upon Calvin Klein’s definition of modern luxury: that it must be both exclusive and inclusive. Everything the company makes, whether it cost $25,000 or $5, must be an object of desire.

After Mr. Shiffman’s speech, Panel 1, composed of Alain Bernard- President & CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas, Laurent Claquin- Head of Kering Americas, Lazaro Hernandez- Co-Founder of Proenza Schouler, Jack McCoullough- Co-Founder of Proenza Schouler and  Moderator Miles Socha- Editor-in-Chief of WWD, took the stage. Entitled “The Voice of the Creators”, this panel debated the implications of heritage and modernity. How does a relatively young brand weave their story and create a sense of history when there are no archives to draw from? Inversely, how does a heritage brand remain relevant to Millennials whose tastes and spending habits are unique among generations?

Panel 2, “The Direct Voice of the Consumer” was all about beauty with Moderator Gretchen Saegh-Fleming- CMO of L’Oréal, accompanied by panelists Conor Begley- Co-Founder and President of Tribe Dynamics, Maryam Maquillage- Beauty Blogger and Vlogger, Tara Liggins- Director of Social and Influencer Marketing at Lancôme and Scott Sassa- Chairman of Milk Makeup. Discussion on this panel raised some pertinent questions about influence, authenticity and transparency around paid, owned and earned media. Conor Begley shared his prediction that earned media, through influencers, will increase in importance in the future with companies allocating more focus to this editorial coverage. Regarding brand relationships with influencers, Tara Liggins shared her point of view that relationships go beyond glamorous trips and are true business partnerships that, with continued cultivation, can turn the influencer into a megaphone to share the brand’s praises.

There is no doubt that the luxury landscape is changing and Panel 3,“The New Luxury Business Models” addressed this question. Moderated by Vanessa Friedman- Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of The New York Times and featuring panelists Maureen Sullivan- COO of Rent the Runway, Olivier Reza- CEO of Eleven James, Julie Wainwright- Founder and CEO of The RealRealand Gary Wassner- Chairman of Interluxe Holdings LLC & CEO of Hilldun Corporation, the final panel of the afternoon saw the participants firing punchy remarks between each other and questioning the true definition of luxury. Is ownership aspirational for today’s consumers and are rental luxury business models cannibalizing sales? Maureen Sullivan disagrees, stating that rental allows consumers to be introduced to new brands and try before they buy, offering a complimentary business model to traditional retail.

Finally, a flourish of excitement swept over the room as Model, Cultural Innovateur and Entrepreneur Naomi Campbell gracefully took the stage for the closing keynote speech. Having just been awarded the CFDA Fashion Icon Award 3 days prior, Naomi Campbell drew upon her recognized wealth of industry experience to touch upon the increased call for diversity in fashion, recognition of up-and-coming designers and the influence of streetwear in luxury.

Stay tuned for more photos and video of the afternoon as well as upcoming events organized by the Luxury Fashion and Beauty Committee of the FACC.

Many thanks to all of our sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible: Dentons– Exclusive Platinum Sponsor, Gold Sponsors Mazars and JLL, Bronze Sponsors Chanel, Coface, IWD, Kramer Levin and L’Oréal. Additional support was generously provided by our raffle sponsor Air France, as well as strategic direction from Vendôme Global Partners. Additional recognition goes to KPMG who supported the Cocktail & Networking reception as well as Champagne Prestige des Sacres- Panelist and Speaker gift sponsor, Skema and NC State Global Luxury and Management Dual Masters Degree Program who sponsored videography of the afternoon and The French Studio- videography service provider.