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Comite Colbert Goes West

NEW YORK -- Comite Colbert, the French luxury goods trade association, will host its first West Coast promotional campaign this year, in addition to holding its sixth annual event series here.<BR><BR>The promotional plans for the 69-member group were...

NEW YORK — Comite Colbert, the French luxury goods trade association, will host its first West Coast promotional campaign this year, in addition to holding its sixth annual event series here.

The promotional plans for the 69-member group were outlined last week at a press conference here by Christian Blanckaert, Comite president, and Arie Kopelman, president of Chanel Inc. and U.S. representative for the Comite.

The organization is planning a Beverly Hills festival, slated for Oct. 20-28, in partnership with Neiman Marcus. Activities will include a cocktail party at Neiman’s Wilshire Boulevard store, as well as dinners and fashion shows at Comite Colbert member boutiques, including Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef & Arpels.

The plans for the West Coast reflect the organization’s aim to build demand for French luxury products in areas of the U.S. other than New York. Other cities may eventually be targeted for similar events, Blanckaert said.

Total volume of the Comite Colbert companies in 1992, the latest year for which figures are available, came to $5.1 billion (30 billion francs at current exchange rates).

“In 1992, our U.S. sales represented 12.1 percent of our worldwide volume,” Blanckaert noted. “Before that, the figures had dipped way down, and since then they’ve been on the way back up. We see a huge potential in America.”

The six-day festival here will commence June 6 with the annual promenade, a party done in stages at various venues in the city. In keeping with this year’s “La France du Talent” theme, the promenade will spotlight French design and craftsmanship with stops at designer boutiques such as Givenchy and Christian Dior.

Other events will include a black-tie dinner on June 8, an exhibit called Journee des Artisans at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and receptions at member boutiques. Bergdorf Goodman will be Comite Colbert’s retail partner here, and will also participate in several activities. Additionally, the Colbert Foundation, the nonprofit organization division of Comite Colbert, will sponsor an interdisciplinary course for the second year in conjunction with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and Parsons School of Design.

The seminar is designed to pair business and design students who are interested in pursuing careers in the luxury goods industry.

The dinner gala will be a benefit for both the Columbia-Parsons course and the exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt.

Kopelman pointed out that the organization aims to do events that are ” meaningful and have lasting value, rather than just doing one-shot deals that would be forgotten a few days later.”

The organization is also gearing up for the year on several other fronts, noted Blanckaert. One of its major areas of concentration will be anticounterfeit lobbying around the world.

“French luxury brands are the biggest victims of counterfeiting, so this area is of major importance for us,” Blanckaert said. “And in the activities we do, we often end up protecting non-French brands as well.”