EXCLUSIVE: A&E Interviews Pietro Beccari, Chairman and CEO OF Christian Dior’s

Lara Mansour   |   04-12-2021

Pietro Beccari, Christian Dior’s Chairman and CEO discusses the future of the house and the determination to be the market leader in the region


Since joining Christian Dior as Chairman and CEO in 2018, Pietro Beccari has been faced with a global pandemic, a huge restoration project and a digital evolution. But the luxury brand always seems to come out on top. Throughout the pandemic, Dior was one of the few fashion houses who continued to be constantly active and to push forward with projects, despite the challenges the world was facing. This determination is something that has been with the house since the beginning in 1946. Christian Dior was never a follower of others, and his challenging spirit is what the house was built on. Today, Beccari is honouring that spirit by continuing to push the boundaries of innovation, technology, and creativity at the luxury house.


The most recent project of bringing the Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition to Qatar, reinforces the house’s relationship with the Middle East and highlights the importance of clients in this area of the world. In this exclusive interview, Pietro Beccari shares more on Dior’s fighting spirit, the latest in technology and innovation and the future of the house in the Middle East.


Dior was among the few brands that showed agility, resilience and even growth during the pandemic – to what do you attribute this success?

I think it is a combination of factors. The most important one is our team and our spirit and the courage that we had to face challenges and to keep accelerating and investing while others were not. In the period of crisis, we decided to keep investing in our shows, and to continue with our collaborations. We began many initiatives and we had courage, instinct and a risk-taking attitude which was very typical of Mr Christian Dior himself. We kept moving forward and we have been prospering and having a good time. It takes courage and a collective risk-taking attitude to achieve this and it’s something I’m very proud of.


Pietro Beccari with wife Elisabetta at the opening of the Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition at M7 Museum in Doha © GETTY


How would you assess the luxury fashion industry today?

After this period of crisis, many brands are coming back with a vengeance. I think everyone is investing and trying to beat each other in terms of events, visibility and conquering a market share and a share of public interest. There are many big events happening and brands are even more eager to get visibility and they are doing it through multiple investments. This reaction is what I expected, as after any crisis you would normally have event spending and revenge investment. There is a lot of money in our industry and people want to invest to show that they can, so I am very positive about the industry moving forward.


Temporary façade by Pierre Delavie of the Avenue Montagne flagship © ADRIEN DIRAND


We have of course seen a huge growth in digital selling since the beginning of the pandemic – do the stores remain the brick and mortar of the brand and how do you now see that blend between physical and digital?

 You are talking to someone that made a large investment in re-modelling the Avenue Montaigne store which will be ready very soon, so we strongly believe in brick and mortar, and we invest a large amount of our money into our stores. Particular stores like Avenue Montaigne are a symbol of our DNA and highlight what we represent in terms of values, aesthetics and what we want to communicate. That being said, E-commerce is becoming more and more important, but it is a matter of convenience. There are people who may not have stores close to their home for example therefore online becomes very important in this way. And pop-up boutiques are a way for us to show a different side of ourselves. When you are on vacation for example, and you see a pop-up it can be a way of understanding another facet of the brand in a surprising way and it creates excitement.


Tell us about the augmented reality and technology that Dior is leading the market with?

To be at the forefront of innovation is part of our DNA. If you think about it, the company was born based on a new, innovative idea and I believe that Dior must continue being innovative in terms of technology and that is therefore what we are doing. We are present all around the world on many social networks in Europe and America, Asia etc. We were one of the first brands to be on TikTok and we were the first ones to invent the method of launching new products with different types of celebrities online, explaining the product at the same time to various places around the world. This is something that we invented and now everyone is following. So having innovation on one side, and then something like this exhibition in Qatar on the other, so that we can display our savoir-faire and our historical roots, is very important. We have these two facets which are in a way reassuring the consumer.


Temporary façade of the future Dior headquarters on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées © KRISTEN PELOU


How challenging is it to remain relevant today while at the same time continuing to guard the brand’s DNA and heritage?

If you were to ask me what’s the main challenge of a CEO in today’s world this is it: to be able to balance both acts. Mr Dior wrote in his book that for tradition to be relevant you need to adapt it to retain that relevancy. If you don’t do that, then tradition will always stay as tradition and become old and outdated. Therefore, this balance between tradition and modernity is the most important thing a CEO must manage in his daily work. It is not only the CEO, but it is also the responsibility of the Creative Directors as they are the ones who are out there sharing their collections, then the brand expresses itself in different forms – digital, exhibitions, stores, advertising etc. – and all that is the result of a reflection, and you cannot be too traditional or too modern. It’s a fine balance and it is the most difficult part of my job.


What is a significant challenge that you have faced at Dior and how did you overcome it?

I think it’s difficult to highlight one thing but what comes to my mind is the positive values that I have found at Dior and the incredible potential of this house. In the past four years, we have been the fastest-growing brand, so I didn’t find a difficulty, on the contrary, I found a huge potential, but maybe the most difficult part has been to align everybody with the vision, our positioning, and our repositioning since I took over. We had a seminar where we called every store manager from all over the world together so we could share the vision. Dior is about a dream of someone who after the war woke up and said, ‘it’s time for me to create something for me, but also trying to do something for women and make them not only more beautiful but happier.’ No one else has ever put this concept of being happier and dreaming out there before and therefore to align everyone behind this vision and to make it concrete has probably been the biggest challenge.


Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition at M7 in Doha © NELSON GARRIDO


What is your vision and objectives for the brand moving forward?

The near objectives in the industry are always in a three-year cycle. The challenge we have is to keep being a living brand in terms of growth and market share all over the world as we have been doing, because we don’t want to be complacent or look at the past. We will be judged for what we will do and not for what we have done, because what we have done has already been forgotten. Therefore, the challenge is to keep this fighting spirit and not to get too satisfied with what we have done before. We need to be eager to have the capacity to reinvent ourselves and that’s the main challenge.


What is the perception of luxury to you today?

My perception of luxury is the same as it always has been: it’s about the emotion that you are able to give to a product through the savoir-faire. Today, we cannot hide, what we share is even more on display thanks to social media, so you must be an open book and to give emotion by being authentic. Mr Dior wrote in his book that through authenticity you can move mountains and you can make miracles happen and that’s what we try to accomplish: to be able to give an emotion to a product, to an event, or to a story we are telling. And customers want to be able to participate and to share the values that you are presenting. It’s not just enough to sell a product, it’s everything that’s around it and it’s the image of the brand that counts.


Today we are in Qatar discovering the latest edition of the Designer of Dreams exhibition – tell me why Qatar was chosen to be the host city and what is unique to this particular edition of the travelling exhibition?

In terms of why Qatar, we owe it to the persistence and vision of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, who believed in this exhibition to be shown in Qatar, particularly at this historical moment of the inauguration of the M7 building which is a beautiful cultural hub. Her vision for the country, her courage and her characteristics are similar to what Mr Dior had when he decided to create the company. And of course, we have to support the country and young talents as the country modernises and move towards the future. The event was originally scheduled for 2020 because it was a year of cultural exchange between Qatar and France and of course the pandemic meant that it couldn’t happen last year, but we have come back with a vengeance, and we want to celebrate. And it’s very fitting and relevant in a way: our company was founded after the war and now we are celebrating after this terrible time and there is a return to the energy, we had pre-covid and we wanted to do it in a majestic way.


Secondly, there are some personal pieces belonging to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on display that she generously contributed and there are some inspirations of embroideries that Mr Dior and his successors utilised during their shows, so there is a dialogue between the Arabic world and the history of Dior.


Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition at M7 in Doha © DANIEL SIMS


What is in the pipeline for Dior in the Middle East and on a global level?

There are lots of store openings happening – yesterday we visited a new fantastic store in Doha that will open at the beginning of next year at Place Vendôme, a new part of the city. It’s a large store, so it’s a big challenge. And then we have several other stores opening – in Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain – so we are investing a lot in the region, we believe in the region, and we are very close to being the number one brand in the Middle East. It’s not a competition but it is nice to be the leader, so therefore leadership in the region is our objective and we are not that far off. Dior is loved in the Middle East, and we feel a lot of love for the brand so it is a pleasure to be back in the region. We have continued investing here and this exhibition is also a testimony of our commitment to the region.


What is a major milestone you have achieved since joining the brand and what is something you still aspire to do that you haven’t done yet at Dior?

The major milestone is that we achieved our five-year objectives in a much shorter time expected and personally I am very proud that, along with a fantastic team of people, we were able to grow during the COVID pandemic. Not only did we achieve our objectives we did it during the year of COVID and that is a huge milestone. In terms of what I still want to accomplish I would say the opening of Avenue Montaigne is a major milestone and I think Dior after this opening will be a different Dior and that says it all.


What is a message that you would like to give to your fans and clients in the Middle East?

As I said, we are dedicated to the region. We kept investing even during a very difficult year and we are very happy to have done so. We keep developing our products for the world, but for the Middle East but we have paid particular attention to our capsule collections. We will have a new collection for Ramadan next year and we have products that are specially dedicated to the region, and I invite your readers to go to the stores and discover. I think this is a symbol of our love for The Middle East.