Rid­ing the Wave

Miki­moto cel­e­brates women with its lat­est cam­paign, writes Ni­co­lette Wong

Singapore Tatler - - STYLE -

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

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