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Ex MD Sotheby’s Gaurav Bhatia On How Art Is Redefining Luxury & Fashion Brands

In a chat with Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Former Managing Director, he decodes how art is reconceptualizing luxury in the modern era. Trends change but the true essence of art is reflected almost in every luxury fashion brand across the world

When Bernard Arnaut assumed controlling interest in Louis Vuitton in 1990, incorporating the brand in his to be created multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, he wanted to refashion the brand as an embodiment of elegance and extravagance. Safeguarding Louis Vuitton’s heritage by keeping the focus on the art of travel and accessories, he introduced prêt-a-porter fashion and breathed modernity into the brand by making American designer Marc Jacobs its artistic director in 1997. Jacobs, who would then establish strong bonds with the art world through numerous, and sometimes daring, artistic collaborations.

Ex Managing Director Sotheby’s India, Mr Gaurav Bhatia is one of the most notable figures in India’s art and luxury segment. He has experience of about 20 years in the said segment of luxury, art, and lifestyle. Ex LVMH, he was a key member of the Confederation of Indian Industry for Art and Culture. On India’s list of Cultural Evangelists, his brainchild Maison India stands proving expertise in the Luxury domain, making efforts to revitalize the indigenous art and luxury segment of our country.

Being an ardent lover of art himself, Mr. Gaurav Bhatia former LVMH believes, “Fashion is ultimately an art form. Art has contributed to creating several iconic brands around the world. Inherently. Every product that a company releases for sale has a strong connection to the brand’s identity, the style, the service, and the people who engage with it. Art is an ideal source for branding because it helps create something artistic that has a strong appeal to people. Brands like Vuitton have also gone with artistic collaborations – for instance, Louis Vuitton with Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse among others, to inject freshness and fun into the brand, showing commitment to contemporary art.”

Art and luxury are two interrelated entities; the very act of buying something signifies the way we perceive value.

According to the former Marketing Director of LVMH, Gaurav Bhatia, Contemporary art has a way of translating abstract thought into concrete, as in the case of artists like Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. It also promotes open-minded thinking and tolerance of new ideas. Historically, art has been a key part of luxurious lifestyles. For instance, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte developed a taste for bold expressionism. He often commissioned large-scale paintings for the French Royalty and the Grand Élysée Palace.

When it comes to the subject of a fusion of art and luxury then, since the beginning of modern capitalism, arts and culture have been a part of economic and financial systems that directly influence the practice of luxury goods and services. Art has been used to diversify brand portfolios and the strategies of luxury goods and retailing. However, art is not limited to luxury goods. It extends to luxury services and bespoke goods. Art has an undeniable influence on the style choices, price points, and lifestyles of customers who view it in a broader context.

Luxury “Art and luxury are inseparable. What one expects from luxury is nothing short of enthralling. And Art does just that.” Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex Managing Director India said.  Luxury has redefined itself and as far as art is concerned the perception is no different.

“Art should be authentic, unique and should not be just like the others. Authenticity and uniqueness are some of the characteristics of art that resonate with the luxury segment. Art with a soul. Luxury is an emotional perception. The key to creating an emotional perception is fine craftsmanship. When you see a painting or a sculpture, you feel it as if it has a soul. The feeling associated with an object of art is far beyond utility and utilitarian functions. Art is growing in popularity. Art forms are following art and fashion.” added Gaurav Bhatia

Artistic discourse in the present age raises the conundrum of art outside museums and art galleries. Artists, instead of seeking corporate support, work on their own and are no longer dependent on the art market. An important manifestation of this trend has been the rise in the sale of art by auctioneers, international art dealers, private collectors, and wealthy individual buyers.

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