Creating unforgettable memories with Maison Margiela

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Whenever I return to my native New Zealand to catch up with my oldest and still best friends, people who knew me long before my Moodie Davitt Report days, I am often asked, “What it is exactly you do for a job?”

I guess the fact they keep asking me suggests I haven’t explained it that well down the years. Sure, they get the writing and publishing bit but what is it that I actually write about?

Telling them about airport commercial revenues, ‘travel retail’ (what the heck does that mean to anyone outside the trade?), immersive activations or experiential campaigns invariably produces a blank bordering on incredulous stare, so sometimes I resort to describing projects I have worked on or events that I have attended. And now I have come up with a real humdinger.

It begins earlier this week with me answering a knock on my hotel room door at the The Sanya Edition in Haitang Bay, Hainan province, by a friendly young man carrying a bag of I knew not what, who duly proceeded after a vain attempt to explain himself in Chinese and with a few pointing gestures to walk into my bathroom and start running a bath. As you do.

Well, before I detail the scene further, let me offer some context. You see, I am here in Sanya, Hainan province to cover the third annual summer celebration by Maison Margiela Fragrances, a collaboration between L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific and China Duty Free Group at the amazing cdf Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Haitang Bay (you can read my full story here).

And while I am covering the story in trademark Moodie Davitt Report business-like fashion, I have been joined by a host of leading edge social influencers across China’s fashion, lifestyle and travel sectors. The bath experience, linked to Maison Margiela’s bath & body products, was part of the unique way of welcoming them. And, as it transpired, me.

After a few moments back on my keyboard in the hotel living room, I popped my head (still connected to my shoulders, I emphasise) into the bathroom to see how the young man was getting on.

To my amazement he was carefully placing rose petals into and around the edges of the beautiful oval shaped tub. As I gazed in a combination of bemusement and wonder, he proceeded to position a series of imitation candles around the bath between the petals. By now, the water looked like a carbonated version of the Swiss Alps in mid-winter such was the magnificently sudsy and gleaming white result.

A result, I might add, which so resembled a piece of art that it seemed a shame to plunge an aging and creaking body into it and ruin the effect. Where are the art gallery security guards when you need them? But hey, if this is the KOL experience you have to live it, right?

“Ok?” said the young man as he took his leave. So he wasn’t going to scrub my back (and anyway, you can’t soft soap a good journalist).

“Ok,” I replied. “谢谢 (xièxiè/thank you).”

And indeed I was thankful. And so, not for the first time in my life, I took the plunge.

Heck, I haven’t had a bath run for me since I was about seven years old and that was in a tub not much bigger than a kettle coming from the background I did. Besides, this was the most heavenly, perfumed experience you could ever imagine. So pleasurable in fact that I nearly recorded my first-ever podcast while soaking in sumptuous splendour. “Welcome to The Moodie Davitt Bathcast, this is Martin Moodie. Today I am going to plug Maison Margiela’s Replica fragrance…”

I could get quite used to this KOL stuff, though at my age the only bookings I am likely to get will be not for Gen Z-targeted products such as Maison Margiela but Gen XO (extremely old) ones. Perhaps involving assisted baths rather than rose petal scattered ones. You read it here first.

What a welcome then to my Interim Haitang Bay Bureau, which offers a breath-taking panoramic view of palm trees, sea and in the distance Wuzhizhou Island (pictured below), famed for its Goddess Matsu Temple, coral reefs and pristine waters. Next time I am in Sanya – hopefully flying in from my usual domicile of Hong Kong 90 minutes offshore rather than half a world away in London – I have put it on my must do list.

I’m about to check out of The Sanya Edition, my home away from home for the past two nights, heading for an overnight stay in the rather more utilitarian surrounds of the Ramada Plaza Shanghai Pudong Airport hotel before an early morning flight to London Heathrow.

It’s been a whistlestop – and frankly exhausting – visit to Hainan but worth every moment. I got the chance to experience one of the best-run brand events I have ever attended (hats off to the super L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific team and their agency partners); met Chinese acting and singing superstar Li Yuchun (Chris Lee); and this morning took a long, leisurely tour of the remarkable cdf Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex – my first in over four years.

Chris Lee, delicate, almost bird-like in her androgynous beauty, was the star of the show, generating a rapturous reaction from hundreds of fans gathered for the event launch. A highly professional star at that, participating in an extensive question & answer session on stage, livestreaming, and signing personalised fragrances for two fans who had won the right to meet her.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Replica your memories with Maison Margiela fragrance’ – Replica being the brand’s signature scent. Replica’s central and beautifully evocative and nostalgic premise is to marry the customer’s sense of smell with the memories of their past.

There’s no question what favourite memory those two young fans will recall whenever they wear Maison Margiela scents. And what is mine (the fragrance is unisex, after all)?

Well, I will recall Chris Lee as well. But my memory will forever be of a long, lazy and luxurious soak in a bathtub sprinkled and ringed with rose petals. A moment of rare bliss and serenity in an often frantic, too frequently frazzled life.

I’m not sure this example of what I exactly do for a job will much impress my Kiwi buddies but it will make a hell of a story over a glass or two of Cloudy Bay.