Swarovski, Still Sparkling at 120
August 10, 2015
How many brands boast a reach that extends beyond the earth’s atmosphere? Austrian crystal house Swarovski can. In a 2014 collaboration with the Austrian Space Forum, the design house sent three crystal-and-meteorite “Tiuterra Crystals” to the International Space Station. This year, the Austrian company founded by Daniel Swarovski celebrates its 120th anniversary.
“Swarovski brings unparalleled embellishment to the world of fashion and beyond,” says NM Fashion Director Ken Downing. He’s not kidding. Interstellar travel is but a dot on the company’s crowded timeline. A quick search of NeimanMarcus.com turns up fully 22 pages of Swarovski-encrusted results—from the expected beaded gowns, glittering frames, and high-wattage heels to considerably less conventional applications like lavish tweezers and pavé ear buds. If you can dream it…
Just what makes Swarovski crystals outshine all others? Computer-aided design, plus uniform machine cutting and polishing ensure precision, and like diamonds, the facets point up for superior gleam. Proprietary glass compounds render perfect clarity, free of blemishes or bubbles.
Innovation and growth ground many of the company’s triumphs, but marquee moments burn brightest. On the short list: Marilyn Monroe’s baubles in 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (yes, Swarovski crystals—not diamonds—are a girl’s best friend), Michael Jackson’s famous white glove, and too many Oscar appearances to count. More than 1.7 million crystals bedazzled the Richard James–designed costumes for Sir Elton John’s Vegas show “The Million Dollar Piano.” And for the 2015 film Cinderella, Swarovski artists spent approximately 150 hours developing the perfect glass slipper.
Yearlong celebrations of the family-owned brand’s anniversary began with retrospectives in New York and Los Angeles. Along the Las Vegas Strip, Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops debuted “Swarovski Midnight Celebration,” a three-minute sound-and-light show featuring a 4,000-pound Swarovski Starburst made of 924 custom-cut spheres and 1,800 points of LED light. Swarovski built a spiky pavilion to house the illuminated ball, which drops 365 days a year.
More impressive still is the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum in the company’s Wattens, Austria, home base. The Elysian compound designed by multimedia artist André Heller reopened April 30 after a 34-million-euro expansion. Fourteen subterranean Chambers of Wonder include the wintry “Silent Light” with a 150,000-crystal tree by Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen.
Multifaceted in the most literal interpretation, Swarovski is as relevant today as ever. Downing puts it best: “If it truly sparkles, it’s Swarovski.”—Stacy Girard