Philippe Charriol, founder of the luxury brand Charriol, discussed his hobbies and inspirations with City News during his visit to Singapore.
By Dawn Seow
Philippe Charriol runs a business in watch and jewelry-making, but he is first a traveler, an art-lover and a racer of cars. All these unique interests contribute to the development of his competitive personality, which translates to the edge his luxury items under the brand, Charriol, constantly maintains. Charriol is exclusively distributed in Singapore by Mirar Link, owned by Gary and Sara Khoo. City News spoke with this free-spirited entrepreneur about love, life, and business.
You are a traveler, an art-lover and a race car driver; how does all these hobbies contributes to the business you run?
[My hobbies] contribute to the development of my personality, and my personality reflects on my daily behavior. I am a constant traveler around the world and I promote my brand in many countries myself. It gives me the opportunity to meet consumers and visit the stores around the world—basically be in contact with my businesses.
I also race my car around the world; it helps me remain competitive spiritually and mentally. Because when you race, you race to win; and in life, we work to win, to be the best.
Your creations are often very bold and adventurous, moving from watches to jewelry with your latest creation being fragrances. Why did you choose fragrance as an addition to the Charriol collection?
Fragrance is our latest collection that launched three years ago. We have a very large collection of fragrance that is doing very well in the Middle East and quite well in this part of the world. We had a big launch in Indonesia, Malaysia and also in Singapore.
Fragrance is very interesting, because it allows the brand to be re-discovered by many more people. When you see a watch for example, you can touch it, you can look at it, so you use the sense of feel and sight; but with the fragrance, you need to use another sense, the sense of smell. It is always interesting to try to engage as many senses as possible. That is why we love food, because it engages the five senses: you can see, you can smell, you can taste you can touch it, and sometimes you can hear it being cooked as well—that’s why we love food.
Since Charriol opened its two doors in Singapore last year, what growth have you seen and what are you happy with?
Actually, Charriol has been in Singapore since day one. After the crisis in 1997, there was an economic downturn and many of our shops closed down. It left our customers from Indonesia, Malaysia without distributors. So here we are with a new life and new start in Singapore. We have two new stores, one in Raffles City Shopping Centre, one here in Marina Bay Sands, and we are going to open a third one come February in Suntec City.
The presentation of the brand in Singapore is completed; the introduction of the fragrance and eyewear went quite well, so it is like the whole body is here. The Singapore stores attract a lot of tourists, so we do a lot of promotion in Indonesia, Malaysia and China as well. We have a lot of customers who are very happy to rediscover the brand in Singapore.
Charriol has stores in over 70 countries; how different do you market the brand in the different cultures and regions?
Not so many ways, you know, because the strength of our brand is to be unique. I have my direction and I design products that I like, I am not bending to “this country wants this or that”, I’m doing one line of products that I like to sell all around the world. So it is up to me and the people that work for me to convince the Singaporeans, the Malaysians, the Americans that this line of product fits them.
What is one item that has always been the top seller no matter what country it is selling in?
The worldwide best-seller is the St Tropez line–a ladies’ watch that has been in the market for over 20 years. It is a watch that has no clutch at the back–you just close it with the chain that is attached to the watch. It is a very unique watch; even if you are standing afar off I can see that you are wearing a Charriol watch, which is quite important.
Lastly, from a luxury brand owner’s point of view, what do you think makes a classy woman?
I will give you a quote from Count Boniface de Castellane. He was a famous Frenchman from the 19th century, a time where there were many very wealthy Americans, and also many nobles in France that had no money, or very limited money but with very famous name and exquisite tastes. He married Anna Gould–the classic story of a very famous name marrying the richest heiress of America. De Castellane was known to be the most well-dressed man at his time. If people look at him and say “Oh, you are very well-dressed today”, he would say to the guy “If you tell me I’m very well-dressed today, then I’m not well-dressed at all, because you noticed it.”
So to be classy, in another words, is to be absolutely perfect in such a way people can’t say you are too much or not enough–you are exactly what you should be.
Charriol is sometimes classy, sometimes not. We are offering accessories so it is quite rare that the women carry everything; most of the time it is just a watch or something smaller, like jewelry or a handbag. We don’t dress the women totally, but we offer the ladies some unique products which are different from others, that they can wear day and night and every day.