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The latest in luxury: conference round-up

The latest in luxury: conference round-up

“Home to a young, tech-savvy population, and one of Asia’s largest luxury markets, 2016 was the perfect year to hold the world’s first international luxury conference in Seoul.” So said Suzy Menkes, International Vogue Editor and one of many luxury and business creatives to attend the second Condé Nast International Luxury Conference earlier this year at the Shilla Hotel in South Korea. It so happens that Menkes also invented the luxury conference concept in 2001.

Seoul is such a happening place, high wired, it’s smart people, it’s people who really understand the techno world. You have to be there to understand the future of luxury,” Menkes says. “It’s a magnet for people who want to come and enjoy luxury shopping.”


Talks explored commercial opportunities, new sources of inspiration and the role of technology, a youthful population, pop culture and the beauty market in luxury developments. One central question posed to speakers such as Stuart Veves (Coach), Olivier Rousteing (Balmain) and Jason Wu (Boss womenswear) was how have the millennials changed things within the luxury world. Social media is one key, Menkes suggested.

Another topic was the impact of cosmetic surgery in the beauty world, which is why Kathy Phillips, International Beauty Director of Condé Nast Asia Pacific, opened a session on K-Beauty (“one thing you can’t fail to notice when you come to Korea is the beautiful skin”). Involved in the discussion on the Korean diet and typical lengthy beauty regime was Sanghoon Park, plastic surgeon and President of ID Hospital, who operates on more than 1,000 patients a year. Park pointed out that in many ways in Korea, plastic surgery is competing with the luxury market. Facial contouring surgery is especially common, he said: Korea is a place where people are often asked why they aren’t having any work done (as opposed to our often disparaging attitude towards cosmetic surgery in the West).

Conference Session, Conde Nast International Luxury, The Global Power of Accessories, Suzy Menkes in conversation with Stephen Jones, Shilla Hotel, Seoul, Korea

Other speakers featured in the two-day conference included Seohyun Lee (Samsung), Anya Hindmarsh and Stephen Webster with their eponymous luxury handbags and jewellery. Then there was luxury milliner Stephen Jones, who talked about the need for an optimistic hat in terms of the global power of accessories, discussing the process of collaborations with designers for their shows, and “diving into their minds and understanding what makes them tick”. Shoe-maker Rupert Sanderson also discussed what it’s like to build a successful renowned business in Asia.

The big questions now are what the hot topics of 2017 will be and where exactly the next conference will be held. Place your bets now…