The Swarovski Holiday Collection’s Diverse Campaign Launches in Style
"In my mind, there is something that correlates jewellery with a sentimental or special moment,” says Swarovski ambassador Karlie Kloss.
I’ve been told on several occasions by my Swarovski contact in Toronto that I’m going to love the invitation to the brand’s Crystal Wonderland event in Milan. So when the invite arrives on the eve of my departure, I’m almost nervous. What if I’m not impressed? But the red-crystal-embossed clutch that Swarovski deems a “travel bag”—perhaps for passports and tickets (although I’m not sure it’s meant for grumpy passport control)—is intriguing.
I pack it into my suitcase with four pieces from Swarovski’s new Remix Collection. Each Remix bracelet includes a variety of charms that say things like “Sparkle” or “XOXO” or, most popular of all, feature a smiling emoji. The hook is that the bracelet’s crystal-embossed magnet clasps allow wearers to mix, match, lengthen or shorten their pieces however they like. It’s their latest #socialmediafriendly dip into customization for the Swarovski Holiday Collection.
When I reach Italy, the crystals keep coming. On the morning of the Wonderland event, I visit Swarovski’s pop-up styling suite located in the 1,000-square-metre penthouse of Milan’s Excelsior Hotel Gallia. Apparently, it’s the largest hotel suite in Italy, and one room has been transformed into a showroom with glass cases of items from Swarovski’s most fashion-forward lines.
I’m drawn to Christopher Kane’s Bolster Necklace but choose a pseudo-religious bas-relief cuff in silver that is part Madonna circa “Like a Virgin” and part Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. Swarovski stylists pair it with simple stud earrings and one statement ring. I’m told that there are enough pieces here to outfit all of the guests attending the event without any duplication.
This is a quiet comment on the sheer volume of Swarovski’s offerings, which, when I consult the brand’s website, boggles my brain. Swarovski’s crystal-encrusted tentacles extend into eyewear, jewellery, home decor, fashion, entertainment and even specialized machinery. The entire group employs approximately 32,000 people worldwide and generates revenues of roughly $5 billion.
Later that day, when I return to my room, I find a matching three-piece jewellery set from the Swarovski Holiday Collection sitting on my bed, presumably given to those who didn’t make it to the styling suite. I grab my phone (with its new blue-crystal-dusted case) and, at the last minute, pick up the little red crystal clutch. Downstairs, a chauffeur-driven black Mercedes van is waiting to take me to Villa Gernetto, a palace 45 minutes outside of Milan, in Lesmo. Taking advantage of Milan’s notorious traffic, I grab a “disco nap” in the glow of a spectacular sunset.
Upon my arrival at the Swarovski holiday collection’s Wonderland, I see Swarovski ambassador Karlie Kloss on the red carpet in all her sky-high glory—she is wearing a plunging V-neck mini that shimmers with crystals. “My first time wearing Swarovski was when my grandmother gave me my first piece after a ballet recital; it was a really special necklace with a ballet slipper,” Kloss says, when we talk about her connection to the brand. “That was long before I ever thought about, or knew of, fashion or modelling.”
Kloss isn’t the only Swarovski luminary in attendance at Wonderland. Diversity is key to the #brillianceforall Swarovski Holiday Collection, and the talent spans generations, continents and media: Eighties supermodel Naomi Campbell is there; so are young singer Daya (of The Chainsmokers “Don’t Let Me Down” fame) and influencers Chiara Ferragni and Bryanboy. Swarovski has carefully assembled a pool of people as mixed as the brand’s portfolio of offerings. I even see former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi is not affiliated with Swarovski—he owns the villa.
Maye Musk, a Canadian-born model and newly minted CoverGirl ambassador, joins my table and warmly introduces herself to everyone in attendance. She has paired the Mosaic Neck Piece (valued at $3,450) from Jason Wu’s Atelier Swarovski line with a Nina Ricci dress. She also has her red crystal clutch, as do several guests. The Swarovski executive sitting at my table says approvingly, “I wondered what people would do with the invitation.”
After a four-course meal prepared by Antonio Guida, the Michelin-ranked executive chef at the Seta at the Mandarin Oriental Milan, I move about the villa to find Swarovski-embellished Insta-bait objects that will flood the #brillianceforall social feed. A crystal curtain hangs at the top of a staircase, while other areas have been wallpapered with silver glitter paper.
I’ve just decided it’s time to head back to Milan when I bump into Musk again. Far from being your typical talent, she insists we share a limousine. The ride back to our hotel goes faster as we talk about how, at age 69, she’s busier than ever. We also talk about her kids (one is Elon Musk, a billionaire businessman) because I’m always looking for parenting tips.
Talking about family reminds me of something Kloss said earlier about hers. “I love to give jewellery to people,” she said. “I have three sisters, so my dad has been surrounded by women his whole life. He always picks out a special piece of jewellery, no matter where we are or how old we’re turning. It’s his thing, and he has done it for us for as long as I can remember. In my mind, there is something that correlates jewellery with a sentimental or special moment.”
In the limousine, I look at our little red purses and think about how special this moment is. Since then, my clutch has sparkled in far less glamorous places, like in my work tote or on my dining room table. Most often, though, “Red” is on my desk at the office. It’s bigger than a passport holder and could hold those boarding passes I always fumble with at check-in. I decide that this crimson reminder of an exquisite night in Italy will be the perfect travel purse after all. It might even elicit a smile from those customs agents the next time I pass their way.