Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris

For many, Paris and luxury are interchangeable – or at the very least closely related. As the home of myriad designer brands and upmarket department stores, the French capital is the obvious choice if you’re looking to start or progress a career in the luxury industry.

Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris
Photos: ESSEC Business School

If you dream of working for luxury brands like Saint Laurent and Dior, a competitive degree from Paris-based ESSEC Business School could very well unlock the door. The Local sat down with a current student and a recent graduate of ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management and asked: Why Paris?

Location, location, location

It might seem obvious, but being nearby to the brands you want to work for is a huge advantage. While there is something to be said about trying one’s luck in up-and-coming places, if you’re looking to get ahead in the luxury industry, especially in brand management, there is probably nowhere better to start than Paris, the capital of luxury.

As Xi Yu, who completed her Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in 2018, points out, the abundance and diversity of opportunities in Paris is invaluable.

“Because there are so many opportunities in Paris, and so many paths you can take even in niche fields, you can fine-tune and calibrate your professional trajectory,” Xi Yu says.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management

Work with top designer brands

Photo: ESSEC Business School

As rewarding as studying might be, most professional development is driven by some kind of holy grail. For budding luxury brand managers, the goal is often to work with iconic Paris-based brands such as Dior, Montblanc, Céline, Saint Laurent, and Gucci.

For Xi Yu, her studies in Paris helped her transition from a managerial position in the car industry into the luxury travel retail industry at her dream employer – DFS at LVMH Group in Paris. After completing her final three-month consulting project with DFS, Xi Yu was offered a full-time position, and currently, she holds a managerial position in the opening team of DFS’s new department store in Paris.

 “I’m completing my rotation & training of DFS’s Accelerated Leadership Program in Hong Kong. In two weeks’ time, I’m going back to Paris to head up store operations of the upcoming store,” says Xi Yu.

Meet the right people 

As most professionals know well, to get the first foot in, regardless of how qualified you might be, can often be the hardest part of landing the job of your dreams. Merely being close to the right opportunities is not always enough: connections matter a great deal, particularly in certain industries – the luxury industry being one. With over 25 years teaching luxury brand management, Paris-based institutions such as ESSEC Business School have a close relationship with the luxury industry and link up students with their network of industry connections.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Alex Qian, a current student at the Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) at ESSEC Executive Education, has attended seminars given by guest speakers who work at heritage brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Dior. She appreciates the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and to learn from them about what it takes to stand out to headhunters and recruiters in the competitive luxury industry.

“Being in Paris means that ESSEC can work closely with the industry and the other way around, too,” says Alex Qian, who also works full-time at French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever and aspires to land a position in brand strategy at Tom Ford after the completion of ESSEC’s two-year program.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Executive Master in Luxury Management

Learn French – the lingo of luxury

Acquainting yourself with your industry is a must for anyone who hopes to rise the ranks. For luxury, being so enmeshed with France and French culture as it is, mastering the language of the land is a good investment. French is the workplace language at many luxury brands – even iconic German creative director Karl Lagerfeld was a lifelong learner of the language.

ESSEC alumni, many of whom pursued intensive on-campus French courses during the duration of their studies in Paris, attest that learning French was a key factor for professional success in Paris. For Xi Yu, her strong grasp of French was applauded during her first job interview in the city.

“Once I was admitted to ESSEC, I started taking full-time intensive French lessons in China – which helped me prepare for seizing job opportunities in Paris’s luxury industry,” says Xi Yu.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Rub shoulders with Paris’s crème de la crème

Paris’s world-renowned luxury industry is a magnet for international talent. Whether you’re just starting out or are an established professional, there are plenty of opportunities to connect and share knowledge and experience with fellow industry bods. Business schools such as ESSEC enable students to build their networks as they study. The connections they make are invaluable for support whilst at the business school – and may come in handy later down the line.

“Most of my peers are already established in their respective fields, and some already have their own luxury business. My encounters at ESSEC have been eye-opening and career-defining,” concludes Alex Qian.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ESSEC Business School.

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UPDATE: Is it possible to drive between Spain and the UK via France?

Travelling between Spain and the UK during the pandemic has been very difficult due to border closures, cancelled flights and quarantines, but what is the situation like now? Is it possible to drive between Spain and the UK via France?

Driving between Spain and UK
Photo: Bertsz / 67 images/ Pixabay

Several readers have asked about the restrictions and necessary documents and tests needed to drive to the UK and if it’s possible. Here’s what you need to know.

Travelling by car between the UK and Spain at the moment is possible, but not very easy. Although it’s a lot easier now than it was before the state of alarm ended, it will still involve PCR and/or antigen testing, quarantine, and lots of form-filling. This will mean extra expenses too. 

Spain and France have both updated their rules on travel as restrictions begin to ease. Here’s a look at what you need to know driving between the UK and Spain, via France right now.

Leaving Spain

Movement in Spain has become a lot easier since the end of the state of alarm on May 9th. This means that you can easily drive across regional borders without the need to prove specific reasons.

There may still be certain municipalities or health zones that you might need to avoid because their borders are still closed due to a high number of cases, but for the most part, your drive through Spain, up until the French border, will be easy.

Keep in mind that some regions still have certain restrictions in place such as when bars and restaurants are allowed to open and a few still maintain curfews, so you’ll need to check the rules of those regions you’re planning on driving through.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What are the post state of alarm restrictions in each region in Spain?

Crossing the French border from Spain

Travel into France is allowed for any reason, including for tourism and family visits. This easing of restrictions was introduced on May 3rd, which saw France opening up both its regional and international borders.

According to the French embassy in Spain: “Entry into the metropolitan territory from a country in the European area is subject to the presentation, by travellers over eleven years of age, of a negative result of a PCR test, carried out within 72 hours prior to departure. This obligation applies to all modes of travel (arrival by road, rail, air or sea)”.

They also state that all travellers will have to present an affidavit/certificate of international travel, certifying that they do not have symptoms of Covid-19 infection and that they are not aware of having been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the fourteen days prior to the trip.

“If you are over eleven years old, you agree that a biological test for SARS-CoV-2 will be carried out upon arrival on French territory” it continues.

The certificate can be downloaded from the website of the French Ministry. The supporting documents must be presented to the control authorities at the border.

The test must be carried out within 72 hours of departing for France and the antigen test is not accepted. You must take a PCR test, otherwise, you’ll be refused entry to France.

A Spanish police officer checks PCR coronavirus tests at the border between Spain and France. Photo: RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

You can drive straight through France, as there’s no quarantine requirement for those coming from inside the EU.

Note that France still has several restrictions in place, but they are gradually easing. As of May 19th, the curfew was extended to 9pm and bars and restaurants were allowed to operate outdoor services only. This means that you’ll need to stop driving and find somewhere to spend the night after the 9pm cut-off time.

If you have to travel past curfew for an essential reason, you will need an attestation permission form, which you can find HERE.

From June 9th, the curfew will be extended again until 11pm and the interiors of bars and restaurants will be allowed to re-open. 

Masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces across the country, and also outdoors in most of the larger towns and cities. If you don’t wear one, you could face a fine of €135.

Entering the UK

On May 17th, the UK government lifted its ban on all non-essential travel abroad and replaced it with the traffic light system, assigning countries to red, amber or green lists, according to their health data.

France and Spain are currently on the amber list, as well as most other European countries, bar Portugal, which is on the green list.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what that means

This means that you must follow the amber list rules.

The UK government website states that if coming from an amber-list country, even if you’ve been vaccinated, you need to follow these rules before you enter England:

 On arrival in England you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8

Children aged 4 and under do not need to take the day 2 or day 8 test.

You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

The traffic light list only applies to England, but Scotland also has its own traffic-light system, which at the moment has the same green-list countries as England. It is thought that Wales and Northern Ireland are likely to adopt the traffic light system too.

If you’re entering the UK from an amber country, you can go for any reason. It doesn’t have to be an essential trip and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

Find further information on UK travel rules HERE.

If in the future, France makes it onto the green list, then no quarantine will be necessary. Regardless, of this, a negative Covid-19 test is still needed to enter England, plus another test on or before day 2.

What about driving back to Spain?

The UK is still advising against travel to amber countries for leisure or tourism reasons, which France and Spain are both currently on.

This isn’t a travel ban, but the official stand can mean that your travel insurance won’t be valid, so check your policy before you travel.

JUNE UPDATE: From Monday, May 31st, France is tightening up entry requirements for arrivals from the UK, following in the footsteps of Germany and Austria as European countries become increasingly concerned about circulation of the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid in the UK.

So what’s the situation if you are just passing through?

If you are returning to your permanent residence in another EU or Schengen zone country then you can travel, as one of the listed ‘vital reasons’ is returning home. You will, however, need to show some proof of your residency, ideally a residency card.

If you are travelling for another reason you can travel through France, provided you spend less than 24 hours in the country.

The testing requirement applies to all arrivals, even if you are only passing through France, but if you spend less than 24 hours in the country you are not required to quarantine.

You will also need to check the rules in your destination country on arrivals from France. If you are entering France from an EU or Schengen zone country you will need to show a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours and this must be a PCR test. You can enter France for any reason from an EU/Schengen country.

And yes, these rules all apply even to the fully vaccinated.

To find out more about the rules and exceptions for travel between France and the UK click the link below.

READ MORE: Spain-UK road travel – Can I transit through France despite the new Indian variant restrictions?

Currently, the Spanish government website states that only citizens and legal residents of the European Union, Schengen states, Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican and San Marino, as well as those who can demonstrate through documentary evidence an essential need to enter Spain, will be able to enter the country.

However, Spain recently announced that it would welcome British tourists into the country without a negative PCR test from May 24th. 


The website also states that “all overland travellers (excluding children under the age of 6 years old) who wish to enter Spain by road from France, are required to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to entry”.

This applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated already.

Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases. For more information on international travel to and from Spain, see the government’s website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I fly from the UK to Spain to visit family or my second home?