Montblanc goes RED in Paris


Adding social activists to Hollywood star power, the luxury brand champions the war against HIV/AIDS from its boutique on Champs-Élysées

The world of luxury is changing and Montblanc knows it. Earlier this week, at its high-profile AIDS-awareness event in the Champs-Élysées boutique, this was more than evident from both the guest list and the vibe. The colour red had seeped purposefully beyond the carpet to envelop the store walls, where the usual merchandise had been replaced by a special collection of writing instruments, jewellery and luggage. And later, when the party moved to Paris’ iconic Monsieur Bleu (renamed Monsieur Red for the night), the theme continued. It was a celebration, after all, of the latest chapter of Montblanc’s partnership with (RED), the non-profit that works to fight AIDS and HIV.

The other VIPs

As for the guests, Billy Porter, known for his extravagant red carpet looks, and fellow actor, Adrien Brody, were both being cornered for selfies. Model Lottie Moss made an entry in a leather suit with zebra print Giuseppe Zanotti heels. And in a cordoned-off section, Monaco royal and producer, Charlotte Casiraghi, held court. However, it was a small group of industrious influencers — or social activists — that was quietly working the crowd. Hailing from across the world, from Los Angeles to Africa and Peru, they each had a cause — Nigerian-born, US-based Ugo Mozie, for instance, is a stylist and creative manager who works to engage African youth on an international scale. And model Adonis Bosso, the ‘it’ boy from the Ivory Coast, uses his visibility on the runway to speak out about fashion’s diversity issue, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Adventurer and motivational speaker, Omar Samra, who has climbed Mount Everest and the seven summits, talked to me about his project that educates Egyptian children.

Clearly, Montblanc has realised that it is never too late to identify the power of the right micro-influencer. Manning Instagram accounts that see high traction, they were part of the German brand’s campaign for the special edition Montblanc M Red accessories that were being previewed. I personally felt that Mozie’s images were the most striking; he had styled the gorgeous (Montblanc M) Red #MY4810 trolley with a red umbrella, possibly a nod to The Red Umbrella Project (a New York-based non-profit that advocates on behalf of sex workers)? It all ties in with what would appeal to the ‘young urban progressive’, a target client Montblanc creative director Zaim Kamal had referred to in an interview with South China Morning Post. “A ‘progressive’ is basically a person who is a professional, but in a profession that is not yet necessarily defined. A progressive is somebody who does his own thing because he believes in it, and he has his roots in [it],” he was quoted saying.

Montblanc goes RED in Paris

Making an impact

Started in 2006 by UK frontman Bono and Bobby Shriver, the RED charity partners with creative brands like Montblanc to launch extraordinary products and experiences. They could range from the aforementioned trolley and the writing instruments designed in partnership with Marc Newson for Montblanc to the Louis Vuitton RED candle, also launched this month, and also designed by Newson. The selection is varied and includes jewellery, ear pods, even adhesive bandages from Band-Aid at about ₹400. A part of the proceeds go to Global Fund grants that have impacted more than 140 million people with lifesaving HIV/AIDS programmes. In Montblanc’s case, about ₹400 (5 Euro) will be donated for every item purchased. The luxury brand says this covers more than 25 days of life-saving medication for someone suffering with HIV/AIDS.



High on design, these products are particularly popular with the ‘young urban progressive’. Not surprisingly, the 112-year-old heritage brand’s RED accessories were much discussed and the trolley pronounced a hot favourite as the Champagne (Louis Roederer and Ruinart) flowed and the party showed no signs of slowing down at Monsieur Bleu. DJ Sunny Jansen from Amsterdam, another social influencer to add to the list, delivered sophisticated urban downtempo beats — legendary soul, classic hip-hop, bossa nova and remixes of New York ballroom house. When the evening ended with Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’, one had to admit that Montblanc has been making all the right moves of late. As Nicolas Baretzki, Montblanc CEO, puts it, “Montblanc’s mission is to create products for individuals who seek to leave their mark, whether achieving their own ambitions, taking action for good or striving to make a positive impact on their communities and on the world”.

Montblanc x RED is a winner.

The showstopper

This collection’s winner is undoubtedly the (Montblanc M) Red trolley, an extension of their signature #MY4810 line of trolleys. Featuring a polycarbonate shell in bold red, it has red leather accents on the handles and corners, and inspiring quotes printed in red inside. Approximately ₹59,000 in Europe.

Montblanc goes RED in Paris

Another must-have is this year’s edition of the original (Montblanc M) Red writing instrument, with its distinctive plateau. Designed in partnership with Marc Newson, the cap and barrel come with a brushed Palladium nickel coating. Together with the red lacquer on the forepart and engraving on the nib, it is instantly identifiable. Price to be announced.

The writer was in Paris at the invitation of Montblanc.


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:56:59 AM |

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