Pascale Cohen

5 Questions With...Pascale Cohen

Céline Sabbagh

The Launchmetrics 5 Questions With… interview series provides a way to connect industry leaders from the fashion, luxury, and beauty industries, and gives a platform for them to share their best advice and expertise. 

For this episode of the series, we spoke with Pascale Cohen, the Director of PR at Alexis Bittar.

Pascale Cohen is the Director of Public Relations at Alexis Bittar. Cohen originally began her career in New York as Accessory Designer Alexis Bittar’s intern after which she soon progressed to be the PR Director, where she remained for nearly a decade.

During her time at Alexis Bittar, Cohen was instrumental in creating some of their most memorable ad campaigns and over the years, Cohen has leaned on her BA Fine Art Degree from University of the Arts London to help build on Bittar’s aesthetic vision for the Brand.

Cohen continues to work on this year’s launch of a new category for the Brand, handbags; Overseeing all media relations, celebrity dressing, Designer collaborations, Brand activations, and of course the all important product placements! Cohen is thrilled to be at Alexis at a time when his re-entrance to the fashion arena is marked with a commitment to inclusivity and celebrating the differences that make us all unique.

What do you love about your job?

Everything honestly. I am incredibly lucky to work in a category that isn’t sizeist, racist or ageist. It’s really just fun for everyone and that definitely comes down to our entire company’s ethos, which makes my job incredibly fun. I think that part of it is definitely creativity, which is extremely rare really for a director of Public Relations to have this level of aesthetic and creative input. It is a real testament to Alexis himself, that he allows and welcomes aesthetic input, considering he’s such a prolific designer.

We are about to launch a breast cancer awareness campaign and we were all sitting around thinking how do we make this impactful, how do we speak to our audience and gain a new audience, but also how do we really weave in that philanthropic angel that Alexis is so focused on moving into his entire return to the business. He recently re-required his namesake brand and he’s decided to use his platform in a meaningful way. So we all talked about what we wanted to do and we came up with this idea that we would choose a charity. So, we are working with Living Beyond Breast Cancer and followed their advice where we shot seven incredible women all at different states through breast cancer. Hopefully we have told their stories in an interesting, moving and thought provoking way. The way we went about that was such a creative process and I am really excited for the campaign to launch.

That’s really the driver (for me), the creativity of it. From the look books to the images we put out there and to the messaging, I still get an absolute buzz when we get a credit request in and to know you were a part of creating some kind of moment of magic that’s gonna be immortalised in the pages of a magazine, or on a celebrity.

The final thing that I really love about my job is in the name, Public Relations. I just love the relationships I have been able to build over the years. Some have turned into true friendships and others have turned into mentorships and mentee relationships. I am just incredibly lucky to have the job I have.

How has the PR industry changed since you started your career?

The PR industry has changed drastically. I am sure that people who are more mature and wiser than me will say it’s all cyclical and I am just seeing this for the first time.

In recent years there has been a really sizeable shift towards social media and celebrity focused PR. It’s more about celebrity dressing now than before. PR used to have to wait for an event like the Oscars or the Grammys to get an opportunity to dress a celebrity and therefore all of our efforts and work were going into shoots and publications.
Now it could be another Tuesday afternoon and Megan Thee Stallion or Beyoncé is tagging you on Instagram and all of a sudden you explode your week. This is really exciting and fun but it hasn’t really distracted from the beauty of shoots and the curations that go into them, (when it comes to) waiting, editing and then the printing and publishing. It is just a completely different game and I think what is exciting is in the multitude of voices on these platforms on social media. You have the opportunity to see young persons that might now have such a huge fashion following and they can actually express themselves. That’s been really interesting to see. 

What lessons have you learned from this new virtual world we have had to adapt to?

I used to get laughed about a lot back in the day when people said “what are you gonna wear?” And I asked “Well is it a dinner party or a cocktail party?” “If it’s a dinner party don’t waste a good pair of shoes, no one will see them. You are at a table.” It’s kinda the same idea as being on Zoom. Throw on a good pair of earrings and you are good to go. I guess that’s probably the reason why I say Zoom and video calling is because my job has changed so much over the last two years.

Since the pandemic, I am now able to work virtually from London, even though our headquarters are in New York. It’s given us flexibility across time zones, ability to share information more rapidly and I think just willingness from bosses, employees and employers to understand that working from home doesn’t mean that you are in your pyjamas and watching TV. It’s just so much simpler with the ability to share information, jump on a call, you don’t have to be in a meeting room physically present. You can all be there with your notes and information just as ready as you would be if you were all commuting to an office. I still go to New York quite often to be physically present but my entire team is in New York as are all the other departments that I interact with. So are the large majority of my contacts who I speak to on a daily basis. One thing that has been brilliant is tracking samples. Tracking samples with the new virtual world and social media is so much easier. You used to have to wait for magazines to come out and do the clippings, scan the clippings and now you get a wonderful digital image pretty much in real time.

What’s your strongest memory of working at Alexis Bittar? Is there one moment that you’re most proud of?

This is quite a hard question because there have been so many wonderful moments. I genuinely am proud of every day I have been a part of this company. Everyday I have survived as a part of this company has been a proud one as well. I

think probably and not to sound too ancient but one of the proudest moments is our CFDA. Alexis winning the designer of the year was really such an incredible moment for us as an entire company. It really spoke to everybody from design to accounting to production to sample makers. Everybody was able to revel in that important moment. We knew we were onto a good thing. We were having so much fun. We were doing very brave things. We were among the first ones to be doing posting and advertising and the CFDA has really crystallised our position in the industry. What was most incredible and shocking actually was CFDA accessory designer of the year, and there is only a handful in all the years of CFDA awards that a jeweller actually won it. So it was really great for not only our micro industry of the accessories world but also just us as a company. We were just so thrilled, and it was off the back of our really great shoot with Dame Joan Collins. You know, a Lexus for Lexus and we were just having a great time. 

What’s one tip you would give your younger self?

So many tips I’d give my younger self. I mean, there are so many tips I would give to myself tomorrow, to the person to me today. I think the biggest one is probably just don’t hesitate. Take better notes and remember to re-read them. That’s the key, I always take notes and then forget to re-read them.

On a completely frivolous one but a real personal note is try not to worry so much about what you look like. It’s about what you know and what you are saying. That’s more important.

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