26 — know your legends How Nadja Swarovski took the little-known couture provenance of her crystal empire and gave it edge
Nadja Swarovski has taken the lesser-known couture provenance of her family’s crystal empire and spun it into a millennial case study
THERE’S A STRONG likelihood that any book containing an introduction by recently deceased haute couture designer Hubert de Givenchy could only revolve around one of three icons: Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or Brigitte Bardot. His skeins helped create the style profile of each. Enlightening, then, that Givenchy’s words appear in a new Condé Nast title Brilliant: The Story of Atelier Swarovski, dedicated to crystal queen Nadja Swarovski on the 10th anniversary of the business she set up to more fully leverage the brand’s already close relatonships with fashion houses. Givenchy, Chanel, and even Charles Frederick Worth in fin de siècle- era Paris have all worked with the Wattens, Austria-based manufacture.
Nadja Swarovski’s success has been nothing short of stratospheric. She took the tackiest, kitschiest ducks, swans and paperweights and repositioned Swarovski on the international cultural axis with a whole new edge. She allied with Isabella Blow and then-unknown designer Lee Alexander McQueen, sponsoring young fashion designer contests long before H&M or Louis Vuitton woke up to such millennial values. And Givenchy isn’t the only contributor in Brilliant. Writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland, designer Karl Lagerfeld and Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick also weigh in on her global reach.
Nadja’s smarts, savvy and scenester-ness have made her the natural go-to collaborator for any and all luxury entities as a result, be it multinationals or the independents such as Lorenz Bäumer, the former Chanel jewellery designer who creates bespoke chronographs for her with pictures of her children on the faces– and who she knew before the rest of us ever did. That’s the other no less remarkable part; she’s bestridden the world in high-key crystalline style while also raising three children.
“It’s the stuff of dreams,” writes Givenchy. He, and she, would certainly know.