Red Car­pet Ready

Chopard and the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val share a re­la­tion­ship that has spanned two decades says its cre­ative head Caro­line Sheufele

India Today - - INTERVIEW - By KAVEREE BAMZAI

Caro­line Scheufele is half of the team which runs one of the few fam­ily-con­trolled com­pa­nies in the world of high lux­ury. Based near Geneva, the 55-year-old Artis­tic Di­rec­tor of Chopard is as pas­sion­ate about her de­signs as she is about the arts. Start­ing with a tiny of­fice at Cannes to now be­ing the fore­most tastemaker of the town that cel­e­brates global cin­ema, Scheufele has worked re­lent­lessly to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of Hol­ly­wood roy­alty, who of­ten grace the red car­pet at Cannes wear­ing her ex­quis­ite cre­ations. This year, Chopard and Cannes cel­e­brated twenty years of to­geth­er­ness with a unique collection co-de­signed by global pop star Ri­hanna and Scheufele. As Scheufele takes a deep breath on the sec­ond last day of the hec­tic fes­ti­val, she snatches some time to talk to Kaveree Bamzai on the sun­lit rooftop of the his­toric Ho­tel Martinez about what drives her: cre­ativ­ity, passion for the eth­i­cal lux­ury, and a love of cin­ema.

How did your as­so­ci­a­tion with the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val be­gin?

It was 1997. I walked into the of­fice of Pierre Viot, who was then Pres­i­dent, and asked how we could be as­so­ci­ated with it. He sug­gested a part­ner­ship as they had with L’Oreal, Canal+ and Re­nault. I of­fered to re­design the Palme D’or as well and walked out of his of­fice with the tro­phy un­der my arm and went straight to my brother’s of­fice. He thought I was ab­so­lutely mad. When we be­gan we were just a tiny lit­tle bou­tique on the Croisette. Our of­fice was my tiny room at The Ma­jes­tic. The safe was in my room. We didn’t have a red-car­pet collection. One of the first celebri­ties we dressed was ac­tor Salma Hayek who be­came a big fan of our watches and jew­ellery (and iron­i­cally is mar­ried to Ker­ing boss Fran­cois-Henri Pin­ault). This year, to cel­e­brate the 20th an­niver­sary of our part­ner­ship, Chopard re­designed the tro­phy. For the very first time, a cloud of di­a­monds, sourced from a sup­plier cer­ti­fied by the Re­spon­si­ble Jew­ellery Coun­cil, adorned the pre­cious Fairmined cer­ti­fied eth­i­cal gold leaf mo­tif. Re­spon­si­ble and sus­tain­able lux­ury is very im­por­tant to Chopard. Whether it is the gold for the Palme D’or from a fam­ily-run firm in Colom­bia or eth­i­cal emer­alds from Zam­bia or eco­log­i­cal di­a­monds, we be­lieve in re­spect­ing the earth. Over time, I be­lieve we have be­come a game changer in Cannes with our red-car­pet collection. This year we col­lab­o­rated with Ri­hanna to bring her unique sen­si­bil­ity, in­flu­enced by her roots in Bar­ba­dos. The pieces are flo­ral, marked by cre­ativ­ity (we’ve used ti­ta­nium), ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and flex­i­bil­ity.

How im­por­tant is the red car­pet to Chopard?

It’s the am­bas­sador for our jew­ellery which is 50 per cent of our busi­ness. Friends of Chopard, like ac­tors Julianne Moore, Char­l­ize Theron, Diane Kruger, Mar­ion Cotil­lard, when they wear our jew­ellery, the global images for us are fan­tas­tic. And th­ese are mostly peo­ple we’ve worked with for years. In 2001, we started the Chopard tro­phies for Male Rev­e­la­tion and Fe­male Rev­e­la­tion of the year, and since then, we’ve recog­nised a gen­er­a­tion of new tal­ent, from Audrey Tautou in 2001 to Lea Sey­doux in 2009, from Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers in 2005 to Gael Garcia Ber­nal in

2003. It’s easy to be Ge­orge Clooney or Ju­lia Roberts but how tough is it to break into that league?

Cannes vs the Os­cars

Oh! It’s a dis­cov­ery of cin­ema ev­ery day. Os­cars are about one night of recog­nis­ing movies the world has seen, and there’s some­one push­ing a cart car­ry­ing lob­sters on the zig zag red car­pet, and then there are th­ese mics and TV crews ask­ing ques­tions and do­ing chit chat. On TV, we just see the front, the glam­our. Cannes is so much more.

How are women lead­ers dif­fer­ent from men?

I think we have more hu­man­ity, more sense of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. There’s of­ten some­thing miss­ing in the male brain. Women are more team spir­ited. At Chopard, we have very tal­ented women and I’m very happy to be work­ing with them. We’re a hun­dred per cent fam­ily owned com­pany and our causes are very close to our heart whether it is in pre­ven­tive AIDS medicines which we do with El­ton John, in fund­ing leukaemia re­search, in which we’re aligned with Jose Car­reras who is a sur­vivor, or in ed­u­ca­tion where we work with Pe­tra Nem­cova.

So how much of you is the busi­ness­woman and how much is the artis­tic di­rec­tor?

Well, my passion is to cre­ate beau­ti­ful things for beau­ti­ful ladies. But I be­lieve it is bet­ter to do some­thing good than to do noth­ing at all. Oth­er­wise you will never do any­thing new. We were the first com­pany to use pink di­a­monds in watches, in the La Vie En Rose collection, and it was eight times more ex­pen­sive. I re­mem­ber I had some ner­vous hours that Christ­mas be­cause my fa­ther (Karl Scheufele III) had just got the in­voice. Or when I did An­i­mal World Collection with 150 unique an­i­mal-themed pieces to cel­e­brate Chopard’s 150th an­niver­sary. Or when we doc­u­mented the Queen of the Kala­hari di­a­mond where we cel­e­brated the whole life of a rough di­a­mond from its ex­trac­tion in the Karowe mine in Botswana. Every­thing we do is marked by hon­esty, in­tegrity and re­spect.

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