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PHONE HOME: “Let me check your heart rate,” Samsung’s Younghee Lee told Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke on Saturday, as she slipped one of its new fitness bands on his wrist. “74,” it read. “Normal!” she declared cheerfully.
Lee, executive vice president of global marketing of Samsung’s mobile communications business, was in Paris to co-host a luncheon with editor Carine Roitfeld, billed as a bridge-building exercise between the technology and fashion industries.
Samsung has already tapped footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood and Milanese fashion house Moschino to decorate straps for its latest smart watch, the Gear 2, unveiled last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Manuel Puig, Céline’s Marco Gobbetti, Pucci designer Peter Dundas, Diesel founder Renzo Rosso and Berluti’s Alessandro Sartori were among the fashion folk who assembled at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris to gawk at Samsung’s latest gadgets, including tablets with functionalities like sketching and simple copying and pasting of images.
In an interview, Lee said it’s “only a matter of time” before wearable devices, initially watches and glasses, become integrated into everyday life, just as smartphones rapidly have.
She noted Samsung has already sold more than a million units of its first smart watch since it launched last October, with the U.S. the most successful country, followed by China and Singapore.
According to Lee, mobile devices are akin to fashion in that people have an “emotional and aspirational connection to technology.”
That said, she allowed that fashion could help make devices more attractive for women, and that she’s “dreaming [of] the possibility of future collaborations.”
Many members of the fashion quotient present are already keen techies.
“I’m super connected, but I’m not crazy or obsessed,” said Sartori. “I have three phones — one personal and two for the company. One is dedicated to files and the other to pictures and Instagram.”
While Samsung was keen to highlight the sketch functionality of its latest Galaxy Tab, Sartori confessed that old-fashioned pencil and paper work better for him.
“We sketch everything by hand and then take photographs,” he said. “Even one millimeter makes a difference to the final product. That will always be the case for this level of craftsmanship.”
Eugenie Niarchos mused about bridges with the world of jewelry. “I think [technologies like these] could absolutely influence jewelry in the future,” she said, referring to “things like earpieces with Bluetooth or bracelets that could be made into some sort of expensive watch.”
While Roitfeld herself admits to not being a natural techie geek, she did say, while holding up the new Galaxy S5, also unveiled in Barcelona: “I don’t think technology when I am using this mobile. It’s like an extension of my arm, and I’m sure I’m just using a tenth of its possibilities.”