Montblanc has tapped seasoned leather goods designer Marco Tomasetta as its new creative director, WWD has learned.
Nicolas Baretzki, Montblanc’s chief executive officer, confirmed his appointment in an exclusive interview and said Tomasetta would help accelerate the brand’s transformation into a “luxury business-lifestyle maison.”
Tomasetta starts March 1 and will oversee design teams in Hamburg, Germany, for writing instruments; Villeret and Le Locle, Switzerland, for timepieces, and Florence, Italy, for leather goods.
Baretzki described a more “global creative vision” and “overarching brand themes” rather than a “silo-ed, category approach” for the German luxury brand, which in recent years also ventured into personal tech with smartwatches, headphones and other digital devices.
Tomasetta is to succeed Zaim Kamal, Montblanc’s creative director since 2013.
An official announcement from Richemont is expected as early as today.
A graduate of Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Tomasetta will be based in Paris, but will shuttle around Europe, given Montblanc’s various design and production sites.
The Italian-born designer was most recently creative design director, men’s and women’s leather goods, at Givenchy, and he has also worked at Prada, Chloé and Louis Vuitton, racking up a slew of handbag patents.
According to Baretzki, leather goods will play a “critical role” in the brand’s transformation and “the experience of Marco in that field will be instrumental.”
Also, “today at Montblanc, about half of our customers are female, even if they are not always buying for themselves,” he said, lauding Tomasetta’s experience across men’s and women’s accessories.
“As a designer, writing and drawing are the starting points of any design process, which is why I was immediately drawn to Montblanc,” Tomasetta commented.
Montblanc signaled its new brand-driven approach last fall with its global campaign “What Moves You, Makes You.” It features filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Taron Egerton and singer, actor and writer Chen Kun in 60-second films that reflect how the way people work and measure their success is changing.
Baretzki hinted that its customer experience would also evolve in tandem with the new approach. Montblanc operates close to 300 boutiques in the world, with reach across Europe, Asia and North and South America.
While he declined to discuss business specifics, he noted Montblanc demonstrated resilience with its iconic products during the pandemic, thanks also to the strength of its e-commerce channel, which includes a boutique on Alibaba’s Tmall that opened early in 2020.
It is understood each of its core products — writing instruments, timepieces, leather goods and now personal tech — generates substantial business in all regions.
Founded in 1906, Montblanc is famous for its snowcap emblem based on the famed Swiss mountain peak, which is found on products ranging from cellphone covers and business cases to its cigar-shaped pens, whose diamond-studded special editions can retail for more than 1 million euros. The brand also markets sunglasses, fragrances, jewelry, belts and other personal and desk accessories.
Tomasetta’s first designs for Montblanc should reach the market at the end of the year.
Montblanc is part of Compagnie Financière Richemont, best known for Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and a clutch of elite Swiss watch brands including A. Lange & Söhne, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin.
The design appointment at Montblanc caps a long list of creative changes at Richemont’s fashion and accessories division.
Earlier this month, Maison Alaïa said it has recruited Pieter Mulier — the longtime right hand of designer Raf Simons — as its new creative director, nudging the house away from rehashes of its archival designs the past few years.
That appointment came less than two months after Chloé named Gabriela Hearst its new creative director. The buzzy American designer, prized for her sustainability credentials and luxury chic, is expected to show her first Chloé collection on March 3 during Paris Fashion Week.
And in January during couture week in Paris, AZ Factory, a venture between Richemont and designer Alber Elbaz, unveiled its first designs and put them for sale online.
Meanwhile, speculation continues to burble in Europe that Richemont could be behind a comeback project for designer Phoebe Philo, who is said to have remained friends with Richemont chairman Johann Rupert since her Chloé days. WWD first reported in February 2020 that Philo was recruiting designers for a new fashion project, but she has remained mum on the subject and under the radar.
Richemont’s other fashion and accessories brands include Dunhill — making a comeback to London Fashion Week on Feb. 23 — along with Peter Millar, Purdey and Serapian.