Remapping Fashion PR: How One Agency Is Changing The Rules – Forbes
Every rulebook is made to be rewritten. The art of getting people to know about someone or something (marketing and public relations) has its history of change. Usually, pioneers become stars in their own right: David “the father of advertising” Ogilvy, David Axelrod as Barack Obama’s media campaigner or Harvey Levin for TMZ and celebrity reporting. Fashion PR today is synonymous with Karla Otto whose agency redefined the industry since launching in 1982. The rise of e-commerce, social media and globalization has created new opportunities for fashion talent and extra challenges for fashion PR. I met with Christian Daccache, founder of Bureau Des Créateurs, to find out how the next generation sees its role in remapping fashion, what does emerging mean in the age of Insta-everything and why meditation is a solid business practice.
Christian Daccache, founder of Bureau Des Créateurs
Courtesy of Bureau Des Createurs
What made you launch your agency now?
It is a combination of serendipity and passion. In 2017, I took an invitation to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Georgia. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of raw talent I saw there. I had not really heard of Lado Bokuchava, Dalood, Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili or Tbilisi itself before. I came back inspired and wondered how many other people don’t know about the cool culture of Tbilisi or Beirut?! I saw everything with fresh eyes and recognized this similarity. It made sense to me to bring these places together under one roof. Now I represent Georgian, Lebanese and Jordanian talent. We started with fashion designers and now continue to add musicians, artists, photographers, and maybe chefs, athletes, authors next. It is a new creative map of the region for a different kind of diplomacy.
Dalood runway show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi
Courtesy of Bureau Des Createurs
Emergent fashion markets can be volatile, so why risk? Why not work with established brands?
Hmm, I think out of empathy… I was never pushed or limited in my creative development. My grandma still has sketches of wedding dresses that I made at six or seven years old. You know, Lebanese weddings are a cultural phenomenon! [Laughs] I used to sing and dance and wanted to go to drama school. Parents encouraged me to focus on the business side of the arts. Now I want to do everything I can to make sure talent can get out there. You see, I’ve done “big” for a decade. In fact, everyone on my team comes from a top brand or a major agency. We all have worked on multinational campaigns with mega budgets. We want to put that knowhow to better use, because the drive is unparallel. A one-page editorial can bring joy and make all the difference to a growing brand. For big brands, it is a joke, an insult. Plus-minus a thousand likes means nothing to them. When you see an account grow 10, 50, 100 thousand followers in a year, there is real excitement, real engagement. The sense of discovery is what is lost in big brands right now. It is such a beautiful and rare feeling.
Christian Daccache, founder of Bureau Des Créateurs, inside his showroom/work studio.
Courtesy of Bureau Des Createurs,
Why did you headquarter your agency in Beirut of all places?
Dubai, Cairo or Istanbul have their own appeal, and I have huge respect for these cities, but I am really inspired to be in Beirut. It was and still is the laboratory of all creative, cultural and artistic industries such as painting, dancing, singing, acting etc.. And It has always been a Mediterranean gateway for good music, high fashion, high cuisine…the bridge between the arab and western world. Being here also sets us apart from oversaturated places. It is also and most importantly my home town.We are already seen as a real competitor in the Middle East and North Africa. We are not just another Dubai or Paris firm. We operate in the world without borders.
Speaking of oversaturation… How does one scout a fashion brand today?!
You must believe in what they have to offer. You develop a certain eye and your follow your gut. Sure, check the numbers, but at the end of the day you cannot buy potential. You must be a little selfish to trust your own passion. These small brands are not sitting on big budgets. Money has different value, because it comes from daily work, not some deep pockets. They hand you their future. It sounds very dramatic [laughs], but it’s true. It is fluid and very personal. I cannot imagine having a hundred clients, so you don’t know who is who anymore. I want to form friendships, relationships for life. It just happens that you have a design studio and I have a PR agency. People want to feel connected to each other first!
Darin Hachem is also represented by Bureau Des Créateurs agency.
Courtesy of Darin Hachem
There is a growing sense that the days of PR are over. Anyone with an Instagram account can do PR. What is your take on this notion?
Oh, I can do it myself, too, of course! [Laughs] Jokes aside, there is no commercially successful brand in the MENA region today that does not work with a professional PR agency. Let’s say you made some jewelry. You want exposure. After you put it on your own Instagram, what comes next? To whom it may concern… Can you have the mental space to do research, contact and outreach, follow up with everyone about everything, ship samples, deal with insurance, compile archives, figure out the paperwork and then go back to your studio and create something new?! C’mon… Your job is to make beautiful things. It is a hard-enough job. I want you to do absolutely nothing else.
Dana Hourani is a Lebanese singer, songwriter, creative director, and Daccache’s client.
Courtesy of Dana Hourani
So Instagram is not enough?!
If it is only your Instagram, then probably no. [Laugh] I have tremendous respect for what traditional magazines did for fashion in the past. You still want a mention in an article, a spot in an editorial, a picture shared on their social media, reposted by everyone on the team, and so on. Plus, I believe another very effective way to promote your brand today is to dress real people. A strong lookbook is important, but a good PR agency can place multiple outfits at a strategic red-carpet event. Who wore what where and how?! That gets people to pay attention.
Azzi & Osta, one of the Daccache’s international clients in Lebanon.
Courtesy of Bureau Des Createurs,
Like those tiny sunglasses worn by the Hadid sisters made Georgian designer George Keburia known in the industry… And the Lebanese designers who rule the red carpet these days…
It probably all started with Elie Saab and his Halle Berry dress when she won an Oscar. That dress has its own Wikipedia page! [Laughs] It is was a real Saab moment, but it quickly became a Lebanese movement as more and more people discovered our designers. Where else can you find such history of lavishness and joy plus ancient culture of couture, craftsmanship, embroidery, the best fabrics?! For celebrities it became a statement to support “an emerging market”, but we were ready all along.
How do you align potential and opportunity in the creative industries?
Every morning I work out, drink my celery juice and meditate on that.
Yes, you must give ideas time! I cannot stand an unread email [laughs], but this grind can get quickly exhausting. You lose your Big Picture. I feel I owe my clients opportunity. Something can always, always be better. But the very best things are often different. So, I meditate on that. What do my clients do differently that makes me believe in them? How can I do things differently to help them shine? Nowadays is a historic movement of the underdogs. How do we make our own history?!
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