“My cousin and CEO, Axel Dumas, told all of us at Hermès, very seriously, ‘Beware because we live in a VUCA world.’ Does anyone here know what VUCA means?” Hermès creative director Pierre-Alexis Dumas asked a crowd of purposely overdressed guests who had gathered at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild to discover its theme of the year. “I think Axel read it in the Harvard Business review… V for volatile, U for uncertain, C for complex and A for ambiguous. This is the world we live in.”
Ominous indeed. But Dumas described how, more than ever, in this “very dangerous world, we have to be Hermès.” He continued that the team worked around the clock to find the “golden path to exaltation.” Finally, Hermès decided to use the French verlan slang technique, and swap the syllables of the word so that it reads ACVU – or, à vous de jouer (your turn to play). That night, editors and friends from around the world were offered a sophisticated fun house of jousting, spin the wheel, skittle, and more in the opulent halls and gardens of the Rothschild manor.
Vogue Arabia Features Director Caterina Minthe with the two sphinxes at the entrance to Hermès Let’s Play soirée in Paris.
Explaining the significance of the new acronym, Dumas said, “A is for Audacious. C is for Carrément crazy. V is for Vogue (Where are our Vogue-ers?!) and U is for Unique and U-riginal.”
As the guests let out whoops of approval, he closed on a note of hope and promise, “We want to dream, laugh, hope, have fun, be creative, and play. The essence of playing is to be inspired and hopefully be inspiring.” The Hermès answer to VUCA has indeed been in practice for 180 years and counting.