Admittedly, “shine bright like a Swarovski crystal” isn’t quite as catchy a lyric, but it is a more accurate description of Rihanna’s now infamous, sparkling and very sheer dress from the 2014 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) event.
The gown, by Adam Selman, was covered in more than 200,000 crystals and became one of the major headlines to come out of the annual fashion awards.
Few major cultural events escape the shimmer of Swarovski sparkle, 120 years after Daniel Swarovski launched the brand in Austria.
From the 15-year collaboration with the late British designer Alexander McQueen to the 675,000 crystals that have adorned the Academy Award stage over the past eight years, Swarovski crystals shine everywhere.
It was perhaps Nadja Swarovski’s own art background that has fueled the brand’s dedication to supporting contemporary fashion, design and art.
When she joined the family business in the mid-1990s, Swarovski – who holds a degree in Art History and completed a graduate course in Fine and Deconstructive Arts at Sotheby’s in New York – immediately set upon building strong ties with the fashion and creative sector.
In that time it was her close relationship with the late Isabella Blow that helped move the brand into contemporary fashion and design landscape.
The Designers of the Future award is now a staple news announcement at Milan’s Salone del Mobile.
In May 2015 the first Swarovski Collective Award was announced and awarded to Peter Pilotto and partner Christopher de Vos. The Swarovski collective is a rolling support program, now 15 years old, that has supported over 150 designers including Alexander Wang, Rodarte and Giles Deacon.
Nadja Swarovski, the undisputed face of the brand for 25 years, speaks with CNN about modern luxury, Alexander McQueen and believing in yourself.
What has been the most moving piece of art or exhibition you have seen this year?
The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening at the V&A was a special moment for all of us at Swarovski. We first started working with him in the late 1990s when we were introduced by Isabella Blow, and so many of the crystal pieces he created during a decade of collaborations are on display in the show. It was very moving to look back at that shared legacy.
Your current obsession?
My Apple Watch, which was given to me by Jony Ive.
What does luxury mean in 2015?
Modern luxury is defined by a combination of craftsmanship and innovation.
What is your most valued personal object?
The photographer Adam Fuss created two large-scale images of my daughters as newborn “water babies”. The images are beautiful and capture a precious and fleeting moment in time. I hadn’t discovered him when my son was born which is why there isn’t one of him, sadly.
What can’t you live without when you’re traveling?
I always travel with my gym kit in case I get the opportunity to work out. We have offices around the globe so I’m on the road a lot, but staying fit is important to me and I try to find time to exercise whenever I can.
How do you define your personal style?
I have always been inspired by Alexander McQueen. He created clothes that empowered women while also flattering their figures. That balance of femininity and business is key to my personal style.
Your rising star?
It was a pleasure to name Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos as winners of our inaugural Swarovski Collective Prize earlier this year. We are so impressed by the way they are pushing the boundaries of crystal use and create innovative yet highly wearable womenswear.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Education, passion, integrity and a strong work ethic will carry you far in business. It is also important to stay strong and believe in yourself and what you are doing.
Where my family is.