Ahead of International Women’s Day we look at Beyond the Label, the story of one woman’s rise to the top of a major fashion label.
So, what names do you associate with Chanel the French fashion label?
Well there is Coco Chanel the designer who founded the company, and the news has recently been full of coverage of the death of Karl Lagerfeld the German born designer who reinvigorated the label after the death of the founder.
Business Behind the Creativity
But the designers who are the creative force of the label, and the public face are rarely the people who turn that creativity in to a business.
For a brand to be both creatively and commercially successful the designer has to have a commercial expert to run the business. For Gianni Versace, it was his brother Santos, for Yves Saint Laurent it was Pierre Berge, and at Chanel the brain was for many years Maureen Chiquet.
Outside the industry Maureen Chiquet was an unknown figure until the publication of her memoir, Beyond the Label, which as part of our support for International Women’s Day we are making available as a free getAbstract summary.
Just as International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women Maureen Chiquet charts her own improbable path from studying literature to be the global chief executive of Chanel she guides readers to move beyond the confines of staid expectations and discover their own true paths, strengths, and leadership values.
Driven. Shy. Leader. Wife. Mother.
We use labels and categories to tell the world and ourselves who we are and what we do, some of these labels are aspirational whilst others are uncomfortable to wear. Creating a life that truly reflects who we are can only be achieved by identifying those labels that define the person that we really are and the person that we want to be.
In Beyond the Label Maureen Chiquet provides inspiration to a new generation of women by sharing the inklings, risks and defining moments that have shaped her own career, to nurture a way of living and leading that is all their own.
Maureen Chiquet provides provocative insights into her life through vivid and entertaining storytelling that guides readers through a series of questions that invite us to ask how we fit with the inherent paradoxes of creating a successful and fulfilling life in a complex and competitive world.
Why she asks do we build barriers between the different aspects of our life, why do we separate feelings from logic, and intuition from judgment?
As members of all genders look for ways to add flexibility to their working lives Chiquet asks who decided that it isn’t possible to be both career minded and flexible, introspective and attuned, a parent at the same time as being a top executive?
As a man who has spent his career in HR working in teams that are predominantly female, I find myself agreeing with Maureen when she asks why women abandon their femininity in the pursuit of conforming to a corporate stereotype of the business woman?
Why do women believe that embracing femininity, won’t make them stronger?
Full of Examples
The best business books are full of examples, and Beyond the Label is full of examples.
From her childhood fascination for anything French, her education at Yale, her career start at L’Oréal, climbing the ladder at The Gap and becoming president of Banana Republic until, finally, becoming global CEO at Chanel, Chiquet provides examples of her successes, failures and defining moments as a business leader, a wife and a mother.
It’s not just what happens at work or what you learn at business school that defines you.
Beyond the Label is marketed as a book for women, as many books by female business people are, but I believe that Beyond the Label is an interesting and enjoyable read for any reader regardless of gender.
In the free book summary that is available from the Work Place Learning Centre you will learn: •
- How Maureen Chiquet became global CEO of Chanel,
- What leadership lessons she learned during her journey and
- How to apply these lessons in your quest for success.
Offer expires 10th March.