Hervé Genriès-Bouvet – From polishing fine jewels to polishing the finest artists

Hervé Genriès-Bouvet always had a passion for gemstones and fine jewellery. Being a child, in Paris, he used to play with his mother’s jewels and he enjoyed watching the jewellery window displays. Who would have knew what life deserves for him in London?

 

Hervé Genriès-Bouvet studied at Ecole de Joaillerie de la Rue du Louvre, ING (Institut National de Gémmologie), and followed evening courses of History of Art at Ecole du Louvre.
He began working in making customs jewellery for catwalks and boutiques, and his main clients were Claude Montana, Lanvin Haute Couture by Claude Montana, Christian Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy to name only a few.
He also worked as a fine jeweller on commissions, making bespoke jewels for private customers. And later on he studied at GIA (Gemmological Institut of America) in London.

Life is often unpredictable and his was too. While moving in London at the age of 27, Hervé Genriès-Bouvet decided to settle in the British Capital and founded with his best friend Philippe Guiboust, who became also his business partner, City Lights Entertainment UK. And this is where the new story begins.

Sting and Michel Legrand recording in LA “What are you doing the rest of your life?”

Nathalie Dessay singing with Michel Legrand, Chateau de Versailles (June 2014)

Charlie Chaplin inspired his brand

Hervé Genriès-Bouvet and Philippe Guiboust named their company City Lights Entertainment UK, based on the 1931 American pre-Code silent romantic comedy film written, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin – City Lights – as the french artist Marcel Marceau said he was inspired to become a mime after watching ”City Lights”. And because nothing seems to be a coincidence anymore, the first show Hervé Genriès-Bouvet and Philippe Guiboust did in London, 20 years ago, was the Mime Marcel Marceau at the Old Vic Theatre. – Hervé kept the poster framed (see photo).

BBC radio 2 broadcasted french music on Valentine’s Day

Since then, they have been working with French famous artists like the mime Marcel Marceau, French famous artist and composer, 3 times Oscar and 5 time Grammy awards winner Michel Legrand (who recorded with many artists from Barbra Streisand to Sting), Maurice Béjart’s ballet company – Béjart Ballet Lausanne, one of the best opera singers worldwide Natalie Dessay, Eric Serra or Vincent Niclo.
Vincent, beside being one of the biggest male singer in France and expanding his career in the UK and other countries, recently started to host radio shows on the BBC; his most recent show was on the BBC Radio 2 show on Valentine’s Day. Also a series of 10 shows are planned to be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 during the summer 2017. Many other news will be announced on citylights.uk.com website, dates of future concerts or events, including the collaboration with George Perris.

La La Land was influenced by Michel Legrand

The recently released movie La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, with 14 Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards 2017, has been very influenced by Michel Legrand’s music and also by Jacques Demy’s.
City Lights Entertainment UK has been licensing for years stage adaptations of some of Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy’s movies in many countries. Productions like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort or Donkey Skin. And not forgetting the French Musical “Roméo et Juliette” by Gérard Presgurvic.

 

INTERVIEW

Hervé Genriès-Bouvet: ”Success is about doing, not following!”

Your mission is to promote artists from France abroad and of course in London too?
French artists mostly, yes, but with an international career potential. The audience in London and generally in UK is interested mostly in melodies; in France the audience is interested in the lyrics first.
I couldn’t have done this company without my business partner. He is a theatre and a music person, and I’ve always been on the production and business side. I love art, dance and light, I’m very visual, I am an aesthete-epicurean! I always check details, posters, videos and I make sure everything is perfect. I love organizing the full project, from the beginning to the end, contracts and budget to rehearsals going on the tv set with the artists.

With Hervé Genriès-Bouvet during the interview at his beautiful home in Central London.

How is working with artists comparing to working with gemstones?
The gemstones don’t have ego! (laughing) But you cannot be an artist without thinking about yourself. It’s all about you. You are going on the stage, you are performing. For artists everything is based on their feelingsc and how they can pass on their emotions to their audience. They need good advices and being protected, which I love doing. I love making things happened for the artists for the public. We communicate with our artists very much, almost every day, even if we are living in London and they are living in Paris, Athens, Monte Carlo etc.. We need to understand their point of view, their needs and I’m doing everything in my power to achieve the best. And we meet face to face before rehearsals, shows, concerts, recordings or before going on tv.

What big project scheduled for this year would you mention?
Michel Legrand will have a tour worldwide this year with 85 concerts for his 85th birthday. He will launch a project with Charles Aznavour (93), they will sing together in Paris, then they will be recording an album in the next few months and we are planning a concert in the summer 2017. Also they will perform in London. Yet we don’t know the dates, but what I can tell you is that Celine Dion, who will perform in London in June 2017 will sing some of Michel Legrand’s songs.
We have a lot of projects with Vincent Niclo too, but i cannot say much right now, but follow us on Facebook on or our website!
We are also planning a big worldwide tour for Michel Legrand and Natalie Dessay for the release of their album in March 2018, ”The Incredible Life of a Simple Woman”.

“Ballet for life”, Bejart Ballet Lausane, costumes by Gianni Versace

Inva Mula (original voice of Diva Plavalaguna in the film The Fifth Element) singing at Eric Serra Live’s in Paris to at the Grand Rex Theatre (October 2015) / Photo by Herve Simon

What success means for you?
A lot of things. I love doing and making things happened. And when I see the audience leaving after concerts with a big smile, when I hear the people singing the songs they just heard, then I am happy. This means that our team did a good job.
If success is also about the financial reward, it is not out first motivation, but we have been privileged that in 20 years of City Lights Entertainment UK, my business partner and I worked only with artists we liked and we relate to. We are like a family, and only engage in long term collaborations.

Which are the steps to success?
I think you do, but don’t follow! If you copy it’s difficult to believe that you will have success, because somebody else already did it. So what can you do? Even if an idea doesn’t work, you have to try again, to push doors. And if the door is closed then try the window. Some of our artists say ”I won’t take no as an answer” which means you can’t say no, you have to find a solution. It’s very challenging but very rewarding.

Eric Serra Live’s in Paris at the Grand Rex Theatre (October 2015) / Photo by Herve Simon

What are the main things you tried to teach the artists you are working with?
Most of them are extremely experienced and established artists, who became very popular many years or decades ago so they have also teatched me a lot of things. Michel Legrand, Marcel Marceau or Maurice Béjart are all artists who after the show are going home or back to the hotel, have a soup, a tea, go to bed. They are not party people going to clubs, drinking heavily or spending nights in crowded places.

And what did you learned from them?
I first learned that you have to work very hard to get results, it’s all about results! Good it’s not enough, it’s not perfection! (Laughing). Then you can only be humble working with icons or genius.
For example, one of the big artists from France told me that after an important show instead of celebrating with drinks in a night club, he preferred to go home, to cook something, to use the washing machine or to clean the bathroom. Something very basic that makes you go back to reality. The same was with the famous opera singer Natalie Dessay. After singing in ”La Traviata” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York she used to go back home where she was cleaning the skirting boards in her house with a toothbrush. It’s always good to have a basic activity that keeps you rational and not being overwhelmed by celebrity.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Chatelet Theatre Paris (September 2014), Michel Legrand, Natalie Dessay and Vincent Niclo. Photo by Marie Noelle Robert

The interview has been published in the print version of FABUK – fashion and lifestyle magazine, March 2017 issue, London, UK.

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