Riding the Wave
Mikimoto celebrates women with its latest campaign, writes Nicolette Wong
Pearls are the ultimate symbol of femininity, simplicity and elegance. They have been associated with royalty for centuries, with everyone from Queen Elizabeth I to Maria Alexandrovna, the Empress of Russia, reportedly being huge fans. In modern times, women such as Elizabeth Taylor (owner of the famous La Peregrina pearl that was sold by Christie’s for US $11.8M in 2011) and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel have been famous champions of the lustrous orb. Yet somehow along the way, despite being beautiful prized gems of the sea, pearls became seen as staid and stuffy—“something only my mother would wear”. Slowly but surely, however, the precious pearl is seeing a resurgence of interest. It is helped along by public figures such as Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna, who have all incorporated pearls into their diverse style choices. Having cottoned on to the importance of seeing pearls incorporated
into contemporary wear, renowned pearl producer Mikimoto has also steered its campaigns appropriately by choosing to feature trailblazing women from all age groups. The latest addition to the fold is young equestrian champion Karen Polle, whose partnership with Mikimoto sees pearls being used in a rather unusual way. Mikimoto’s reputation as the world’s foremost producer of pearls cannot be understated. Founder Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with inventing the method for producing cultured pearls, which makes up the vast majority of genuine pearls in the market today. Before Mikimoto, all pearls were extremely rare, because a pearl oyster only secretes its lustrous nacre and forms a pearl under very specific (and accidental) conditions. And when left to Mother Nature, these lucky accidents don’t happen very often—and even when they do, the likelihood of getting a perfectly round pearl is extremely low. In 1893, however, that all changed when Mikimoto successfully cultured his first Akoya pearl. In the 125 years since, the brand has produced countless gorgeous jewellery pieces that highlight the beauty of its pearls. This year, Mikimoto has stepped up its efforts to push the pearl into the style parlance of contemporary women, beginning with its Explore the Original: Pearls of Wisdom campaign, which partners several trailblazing women to celebrate the timeless elegance of the pearl in their own unique way. Among them are Linda Rodin, an American style icon and founder of beauty brand Rodin Olio Lusso; Gelila Bekele, an Ethiopian model and humanitarian activist; and Yoyo Cao, a Singaporean fashion designer and social media influencer. The latest to join the Mikimoto family, however, is a very different sort of trailblazer. Equestrian rider Polle, who at age 26 is certainly a refreshing choice of brand ambassador for the Japanese brand. Born in Japan and raised in the US, Polle has established herself as a rider to be reckoned with, competing and winning at various prestigious shows, including the Hampton Classic Grand Prix, the CIBC Cup at Spruce Meadows, and the Rolex Grand Prix at Versailles, where she placed third, riding her favourite horse With Wings. Unusually for her sport, Polle also manages her own horses, which she says has allowed her to become a better rider. She is also pegged as one to watch for the 2020 Olympic Games, which will be held in Tokyo. Perhaps the most unusual part of this partnership, however, is the fact that Mikimoto has created a custom one-of-a-kind set of pearl-studded riding gear for With Wings that pairs with Polle’s own set of jewellery. It just goes to show that Mikimoto isn’t afraid of breaking new ground in the pearl industry— just as it did at its own inception.
NO HORSING AROUND Mikimoto created pearl-studded riding gear (below) for With Wings, the prized horse of its latest brand ambassador, equestrian champion Karen Polle