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Is Grace De Monaco the new business model for luxury brands?

By Jackie Mallon

29 Nov 2021

Fashion |Exclusive

Fragrance image Grace De Monaco

Grace De Monaco launched this summer with a pop-up event in Monaco’s Hotel De Paris hosted by Prince Albert and an inner circle of supporters and friends. The luxury brand, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Princess Grace Foundation US, gives 100% of the profits to support emerging artists in film, dance and theatre. The inaugural product, a fragrance representing the legacy of Princess Grace, will be available through an exclusive deal with Neiman Marcus with rollout of additional products to continue over the next year. FashionUnited speaks to CEO, Brisa Carleton; Head of Operations, Christopher Lacey; and Director, PR & Communications, Lindsey Champagne to learn more about this unique concept, a brand founded on the principle of luxury-for-good.

Lacey, whose career includes working for luxury giants such as Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Donna Karan, Omega, Zilli and Barneys New York, calls the project “one of the most rewarding projects I have been part of in my 24 years in the luxury industry.” His interest was peaked by how it contrasted from all his other experiences. “The business model was different. This brand’s main role is to fund the Princess Grace Foundation. This isn’t a secondary or side project for us, it is the DNA of the brand so it becomes more meaningful. What we are doing with Grace De Monaco or GDM also changes how charities raise money and awareness.” 

Initially when the team attempted to identify possible competitors in the luxury philanthropic space, they drew a blank. Instead the model they chose as similarly directional was Newman’s Own. “We are selling luxury goods instead of salad dressing, salsa and lemonade,” says Lacey. “The Paul Newman brand is phenomenal to me because you have an iconic presence that produces quality products while giving back to charity through consumer engagement.”

Image Grace De Monaco

The timeless prestige of Princess Grace is evident in the brand’s premier fragrance, Promenade Sur Le Rocher Parfum and Eau de Parfum, which was created by award-winning master perfumer Olivier Cresp (Firmenich), guided by the expertise of Veronique Gabai (Estee Lauder), while Jerome Faillant-Dumas (Dior, YSL) designed the vessels and packaging for the Promenade Sur Le Rocher Collection. Says Carleton, “We’re fortunate to have long-term relationships within the luxury market and we’ve been able to tap top talent to collaborate with us.”

The new luxury unites Hollywood, royalty and philanthropy

“Princess Grace was a Hollywood star turned princess and became really one of the first global influencers in fashion, in film and in philanthropy,” says Carleton. The foundation which was started 40 years upon Princess Grace’s death, reflects the touchpoints of her archive and legacy.

“In her lifetime, she was always very modern, that’s what made her such an influencer,” says Carleton. “She wasn’t just reliant on the fashions of the time, she was helping to shape fashion. We look at her style and her timeless chic and we ask what she would be wearing now, what fragrance would she be interested in now.”

The foundation which was gifted her likeness and the rights to her name, has for decades worked with carefully curated licenses and partnerships with names such as Dior, Montblanc, Rolex. These partnerships are ongoing, including one currently with Cartier, and new ones will be announced shortly. Grace De Monaco is strategically designed to sit alongside these as none of the brand’s partners are in the fragrance space.

Introducing Grace Kelly to a new generation

The brand was sparked by the desire of Prince Albert to reintroduce the essence of his mother Princess Grace while simultaneously creating a new revenue model for supporting the foundation. The foundation recognized that it had reached a generational inflection point as many of those who were close to Princess Grace are gone and the younger generation who are carrying the Kelly bag, do not know much about the icon for whom the bag is named. “She’s someone who deserves to be remembered and for her legacy to carry on and not just be within this generation,” says Carleton. The foundation also has another initiative called Grace Influential focused on introducing Princess Grace’s influence and impact to new generations.

The Princess Grace Foundation is a public charity funded through donations, licensing revenue, and profits from the new brand. Notable former Princess Grace Foundation Award winners include Director of the latest installment in the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die, Cary Fukunaga who won the award for Film in 2005; Isabella Boylston who won for Dance 2009, and is now Principal Dancer at The American Ballet; Jon M. Chu who won for Film in 2001 and went on to become director of Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights and Wicked, which is currently in production; Leslie Odom Jr. the Tony award-winning actor of Hamilton and Academy award nominated One Night in Miami who won for Theater in 2002.

“People want to know that when they are shopping they are doing less harm and more good,” says Lacey on why now is the right time to launch Grace De Monaco. “Whether that is environmentally or socially, it is important that brands stand for more than just pretty things, there has to be more, and we offer that to them.”