Baccarat, one of the classic heritage luxury brands, is seemingly in good hands with Daniela Riccardi at the helm. A veteran of several global brands (among them eponymous fashion brand, Diesel, as well as Procter & Gamble) before taking leadership of Baccarat in collaboration with CEO of North America, Jim Shreve, Riccardi has set a new course for the venerable brand. We spent an afternoon with Mr. Shreve in the Newport Beach marina onboard the luxurious Solaris 58 performance sailing yacht, courtesy of our friends at Global Ocean Club, and we spoke to Ms. Riccardi via telephone in her Paris office. They were kind enough to spend some time with us to discuss the timeless appeal of crystal.
What do you say to people who say that Baccarat is an old-fashioned brand?
DR: Baccarat is definitely not your grandmother’s brand! We do have a timeless appeal that stems from generations of tradition, but we’ve worked really hard to bring a new modernity to the brand, which enables a new generation to enjoy it! JS: Well… for a long time, it was! My mission has been to redefine the expectations people have of crystal glassware, and that, for the most part, they have been wrong (the expectations, not the people).
You spent considerable time as CEO of Diesel before taking the helm of Baccarat. Is there any connection to fashion with Baccarat?
DR: There is a strong connection to the world of fashion. Just like the Diors and Chanels of this world, our brand is closely examined by a variety of people, who expect us to set the standard for luxury, refinement, and style.
JS: There is a tremendous connection between the two worlds. Lest we forget, Baccarat is a luxury gifting company, and we certainly view it the same as we do brands such as Chanel, Dior, and Tom Ford. We used our products to accessorize tables and events just like a stylist would help his or her clients looking their best.
What about this next generation of luxury consumers? How much of an impact do they have on the marketplace?
DR: They have a tremendous impact. Younger buyers have more of an understanding of the luxury market as well as having more taste and style. We are entering a new era of luxury.
Who is the typical Baccarat, customer?
JS: There is no such thing. We are a 254-year-old brand. Our customers have one single thing in common: they all love beautiful things.
Is it difficult to introduce a new audience to a brand that has such a long and traditional history?
DR: We’ve strived to bring a certain modernity to Baccarat, without sacrificing our heritage. What was beautiful 250 years ago remains so today. Our customers have stayed loyal to us for a long time, and it is because of our faithfulness to the ideals of what Baccarat represents.
Let’s switch topics to something that is on everyone’s mind lately: social media and the rising tide that is “influencers.” What are your thoughts?
JS: Well… I am not sure that I am a big fan of the whole influencer business. We love social media, and there is true power in it— used properly, of course. The idea of having people telling other people what they should or shouldn’t like is a bit odd to me. When people hold a glass made by Baccarat, and they feel how spectacular it is, this is how we convince our potential customers. We truly favor the “experiential” aspect of marketing by having one-of-a-kind activations that give our customers
an authentic way to experience our products.
DR: Well, not everyone who is an “influencer” is necessarily influential. For us, it’s more about quality than quantity. We want the people who collaborate with us on the brand to be true advocates, beyond what your social media status says.
How important is the American market to Baccarat?
DR: It is very important. American consumers buy a lot of our products and tend to use them differently than our European audience. They tend to “live the brand” as opposed to having it just line the shelves and cabinets as decoration. As we have more and more global events, we have noticed a certain enthusiasm for Baccarat that, frankly, has pleasantly surprised us.
JS: The American customer tends to adapt to a changing marketplace quickly and is more willing to take chances on new products or trends. Things like tradition and heritage tend to be a bit less of a factor here, where people just want a great product that they can use every day, which is ultimately what we want our customers to know: Baccarat is meant to be used every day!
What do you want our readers to know about Baccarat?
DR: That it is a beautiful brand, full of life, glamour, and excitement. We are just getting started!
Words by Yves Le Sieur, Executive Editor, NOBLEMAN Magazine
Photography by Chris Glenn
Shot on the Solaris 58, courtesy of Solaris Yachts, special thanks to Chadwick Allenbaugh
Eyewear courtesy of Leisure Society
Glassware courtesy of Baccarat