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