On the eve of The Fashion Awards 2017 in London, Windy Aulia sat down with Nadja Swarovski and talked about fashion designers, sustainability and bumping into Hugh Jackman in her bathrobe.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

On the eve of The Fashion Awards 2017 in London, Windy Aulia sat down with Nadja Swarovski and talked about fashion designers, sustainability and bumping into Hugh Jackman in her bathrobe.

Nadja Swarovski
Nadja Swarovski

Last December in London, Nadja Swarovski was in a celebratory mood. The Fashion Awards 2017, presented by Swarovski, was well into its rehearsal stage and she had just thrown a sumptuous private dinner for a handful of her friends. Bianca Jagger, who was about to hand the Swarovski Award for Positive Change to Maria Grazia Chiuri, sat to her left, while Mary Katrantzou, one of Swarovski’s recent collaborators, was busy snapping away on her iPhone across from her. The hot-button topic Ms Swarovski shared with the table was the Saint Laurent crystal bedazzled gown that Miss Piggy, her special guest, would be wearing on the red carpet. 

Swarovski’s involvement with fashion dates back to the creation of the Aurelia Borealis crystal. This special stone, made by Manfred Swarovski, cast shimmering rainbow hues through a new coating technique applied to the surface of the crystal. Christian Dior was so besotted by it that he used them in his collection in 1956 as well as on costume jewellery. And the rest, as they say, is history.  

How do you decide which fashion designers to support?

We’ve certainly been looking at graduation collections. Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane are some past examples. What’s very important for us is to see if the designer appreciates crystals as a creative material. Designers who appreciate crystals will do something a little bit more interesting with them and really push the boundaries. Mary asked us to print a certain kind of crystal pattern on top of the crystal—an intricate process, which [presented] the crystal in a more multi-dimensional way. Another one is Faustine Steinmetz, who’s taken the concept of blue jeans to a different level by mixing them with crystals to create an amazing juxtaposition. We really do like to experiment and explore with the designers. What we are doing with the schools is positioning the sustainability angle of the crystals, which I think is super important, and the schools are embracing this topic more and more. That is, I think, going to be a very key element in the future. 

Do you think sustainability is changing the face of fashion? 

Yes, I think so. Maybe not the face of fashion, but the soul of fashion. I think it’s very interesting what Livia Firth has done with her “Will I Wear This 30 Times?” campaign. Basically, she’s encouraging people to wear their dresses 30 times. I think what’s going to happen is that people will invest more in quality garments. 

Besides sustainability, what other causes are close to your heart? 

I want Swarovski to become a more cause-related company. For example, we have a collection in relation to the film The Greatest Showman, which touches on the issues of diversity and inclusion. That’s a topic that’s really important to us as we have signed on to support the U.N.’s women empowerment programmes. We have subsequently started a Diversity and Inclusion department as well, which is rolling out worldwide. That’s why we really wanted to work with [20th Century] Fox on this. Now, I have to tell you this embarrassing story. I had a massage in the hotel yesterday, and I was walking from the spa to my room, in my bathrobe… and guess who I ran into? Hugh Jackman. I finally had the chance to compliment him on his work in The Greatest Showman and how it became an inspiration for us. 

How does it feel to be able to change the world through your work? 

You know, my biggest driving force is to make every woman proud, and feel what  it feels like to wear a diamond. So if we can instil that empowerment or pride or joy, then that’s success. And the product lends itself so well to that. It’s crystal, it’s pure and it’s about light—it catches the light as it reflects light. And it’s about positivity. That’s certainly the mission, to push that positivity forward.