Chanel's head of external communications leaves
A chapter has ended at Chanel with the departure of the luxury label’s head of external relations, Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre. A “woman of taste, culture, influence and connections at the highest level,” as she was described by Chanel's president Bruno Pavlovsky in a communiqué, de Clermont-Tonnerre has left the label after a fifty-year career. She created the public and press relations departments for three of Chanel's divisions: fashion (with haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories), perfumes and cosmetics, and watches-jewellery. She notably supervised the advertising and corporate vision of Chanel, whose growth she has bolstered in the last quarter-century.
De Clermont-Tonnerre arrived at Chanel’s Parisian headquarters at 31 rue Cambon on April 1 1971, two months after Gabrielle Chanel’s death, tasked with setting up the press relations department for haute couture.
“I remember asking for pictures of Coco to give to journalists, and discovering there weren't any. I can still see myself as I built up the photo archives and bought, well before vintage fashion was a thing, [Gabrielle Chanel’s] creations from the 1930s and '60s, at the same time setting up out of nothing the basis for a document collection,” de Clermont-Tonnerre recalled in a note.
She did in fact create Chanel's heritage division, at the time called ‘Conservatoire’, which was later moved to the facilities in Pantin. “Perhaps the thing I’m most proud of since I joined in 1971,” said de Clermont-Tonnerre, lately the managing director of Chanel's external relations, having notably “shaped the organisational structure, values and strategic vision of the media and public relations departments.”
She was also responsible for “the promotion and perpetuation of our iconic venues, such as Gabrielle Chanel’s flat at 31 rue Cambon (she was instrumental in having it classed as historical monument), as well as those of our collections, launches and events. She has etched an indelible mark on our maison, and helped strengthen the image of elegance, authenticity and Parisian spirit that characterises Chanel,” said Pavlovsky.
De Clermont-Tonnerre has been at the forefront during all the key stages in the creation of Chanel's luxury empire since the 1970s, from the first introduction of ready-to-wear, to the arrival of Karl Lagerfeld and the creation of his first haute couture collection, to the launch of the watches and later jewellery lines, not to mention the establishment of the Métiers d’Art collection and finally the handover to Virginie Viard.
“Today I’m leaving the teams that I have trained and that will continue to carry forward the vision and values that are dear to me. With the tools of their times, an abundance of ideas and one day, like all of us, with their memories,” concluded de Clermont-Tonnerre, a long-standing Chanel executive who stepped down from her role in October.
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