On Valentine’s Day, Philippe Charriol made the rounds of the Charriol boutiques in Manila to present bouquets of flowers to the stores’ female staff. It’s a gesture that reflects the nature of this romantic and passionate man.
“Pay attention to your partner,” he advised a tableful of Manila press the day after Valentine’s, to launch a capsule jewelry collection called “Lock and Key.”
“You don’t have to do anything grand. Just pay attention,” he added. Charriol’s presence in Manila for a business holiday—he had just spent a couple of days in Boracay, where he has been a frequent visitor in recent years—had, however, put him in a rather discordant situation on the homefront.
Charriol said that he had ordered flowers to be sent to his wife back in Europe in time for Valentine’s. “When I called my wife, it was clear the flowers didn’t arrive on schedule at 7 p.m. because I could hear it in her voice,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s very important to pay attention.”
Charriol, who started his namesake company 30 years ago, has been married to the same woman, Annick, “for many years,” with whom he has two grown children. Coralie Charriol, longtime muse of her father and face of the Geneva-based jewelry company, is the brand’s creative director. Her artist-brother, Alexandre, is the Hong Kong-based visual director who’s responsible for the lip motif behind “Lock and Key,” possibly inspired by the American artist Man Ray, according to his father.
“Lock and Key” consists of silver bracelets, rings, and key- and lock-style or heart-design pendants plated in rhodium and palladium. The rings and bracelets are a continued play on Charriol’s signature Celtic cable-wire motif. In a press statement, Coralie Charriol says the line was designed “to reflect the secrets that we all hold, that we choose to share or to keep under lock and key.”
Charriol the brand, through exclusive local distributor Stores Specialists Inc., has benefited from the Filipinos’ gifting culture, where its founder said Charriol enjoys a “young market.”
Philippe Charriol, the Charriol Group’s chief executive officer, is more than happy to be his company’s ambassador, visiting his vast global retail network. He acknowledged that it’s rare these days to find brand founders still directly involved with the company they started, even less to see them still making the rounds representing the brand.
Charriol has been coming to the Philippines since 1972, when he was head of the regional business of the French luxury jewelry company, Cartier. In those days, he recalled, he experienced being hassled by customs officers who would open his briefcase in the airport and make suggestive comments about which jewelry pieces they preferred.
But those days, this French CEO said, are long gone. His company is feeling the effects of the Philippines’ robust economy. “It’s 6.6 percent growth, right?” he said, noting how France’s own GDP had contracted by 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2012. “Perhaps I should move here,” he quipped.
“If you’re unhappy with how you’re being treated, if you’re unhappy with your government, it’s your choice to leave,” Charriol said when asked to comment on allegations that LVMH chair Bernard Arnault was applying for Belgian citizenship to evade a French law that imposes mega-taxes on multibillionaires. “It’s a personal choice… In the end, we still have the same [European Union] passport.”
Charriol has 16 points of sale in the country, reaching as far as Cagayan de Oro, with a target of four more outposts this year. The CEO says he’s looking into expanding to Visayas and Mindanao.
Charriol is available at Greenbelt 4, Power Plant Mall, Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Tower, Gateway Mall, SM Mall of Asia, 158 Designers’ Boulevard-ATC, TriNoma, Robinsons Midtown, Newport Resorts World, The Podium, Rustan’s Ayala Cebu, Abreeza Davao and Limketkai CDO.