Iconic luxury brand Swarovski celebrates 120 years of sparkle.
You don’t need a crystal ball to see that Swarovski not only possesses the patina of success, but it also has stamina. This summer marks the 120th anniversary of a brand that continues to glitter in the worlds of jewelry, fashion, design, and collectibles. More than a century after Daniel Swarovski founded the Austrian company, in 1895, the original subterranean maze where he perfected his precise cutting technique has become a cross between a museum and theme park for thousands of tourists. It also still serves as the company’s headquarters.
Since those earliest days, the brilliant glass crystals that once embellished the gowns of Queen Victoria have become more than twinkling eye candy for décolletages and tiaras. They encrusted Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz, and clung provocatively to Marilyn Monroe’s famous form while the actress cooed “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The gemstones glitter on the Vegas Strip, highlighting a 14-foot crystal starburst, and illuminate the Christmas tree in NYC’s Rockefeller Center. And this year, Swarovski’s famous Aurora Borealis stone adorned the glass slipper in the latest film version of Cinderella.
Swarovski remains a familyowned business. In 2011, Nadja Swarovski, Daniel’s great-greatgranddaughter, became the first woman to sit on the executive board, and she has since become the face of the company. Nicknamed “The Crystal Medici,” a 21st-century patron of design, she is a singular force, intent on bringing everything crystal into the cultural mainstream.
“Design,” Swarovski says, “has been a huge focus of what we’ve done over the past 120 years. And I’m especially proud of the work we have done mixing different disciplines.” Luxury-home design giants such as Tord Boontje and Yves Béhar are her collaborators. And fashion gurus such as Giorgio Armani and Diane von Furstenberg laud her support of emerging artists as she backs them on their journey to the center spotlight of the world’s major runways. “We have worked with our Council of Fashion Design Awards to bring talents like Christopher Kane, Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, and Mary Katrantzou to the global stage,” Swarovski adds.
She also keeps a discerning eye on Hollywood. In 2007 the company partnered with the Academy Awards and created a 34-foot curtain made with more than 50,000 cascading crystals to illuminate the stage. Additionally, the Swarovski Optik lens magnifies the majestic beauty of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.
And how is Swarovski toasting to 120 years? “We’re publishing a stunning Rizzoli book that celebrates our creative collaborations, and we’ve also established the Swarovski Foundation, launching a number of new philanthropic initiatives across the three pillars of education, health, and environmental protection,” says Swarovski. In addition, 13 of the company’s milestone creations have already been exhibited in New York, including an ensemble worn in a Victoria’s Secret runway show in London in 2014. Called the “Fairy Tale” look, that same ensemble, by designer Serkan Cura, was one of many items on display at the Spring/ Summer 2016 innovation launch located in New York as part of a retrospective that kicked off a year of celebrating Swarovski’s big anniversary. If the past is any indication, there’s no telling what treasures the next 120 years will bring.