The man in charge of Renault styling at the time was Patrick Le Quément, a French-born but British educated designer who was given considerable authority when he was hired in 1987. He retired in 2009 and began designing boats. His current project is the establishment of a design school focusing on "sustainability."
Among his goals was the establishment of a new design language for Renault, one that, according to some accounts I vaguely recall, could be identified as French. And during a period when automobile styling was becoming increasingly internationalized, when cars looked less and less British, German, American and so forth, he did succeed in creating distinctive designs for Renault.
The Vel Satus is an interesting case. Renault wanted a new high-end model that might compete with Mercedes and BMW. Yet the resulting car did not embody power, prestige, glamour or very many other traits a potential buyer would expect when shopping for a new luxury car. The result was poor sales and probably a loss of money on the project.