Swarovski's Aymeric Lacroix on the brand's first merry-go-round and upcoming collection
Sparkle and shine
If Swarovski's unveiling of the first crystallised merry-go-round didn't amaze you (along with all the sparkle that entails), perhaps the story behind the world-record breaking carousel might sway you to embrace the festive notions a little more this season. Recently, we had a chat with Aymeric Lacroix, Managing Director of Swarovski’s Consumer Goods Business in Southeast Asia, on the reason behind the elaborate brilliance of the brand's Christmas campaign, along with what we can look forward from Swarovski next year.
Tell us more behind the conception of Swarovski's first crystallised merry-go-round in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
Firstly, we had a Christmas tree last year, so we didn't want to work with another Christmas tree this year. So we discussed with the designers and thought: "Why not bring sparkle to everyone's lives with a merry-go-round?" We got inspiration everywhere and thought it was a great idea, also we decided to crystallise it with three million crystals—can you imagine—all placed by hand. The merry-go-round isn't static, you can actually ride it to observe how it sparkles and lights up.
Was there a reason why Malaysia was chosen as the spot for the merry-go-round?
Malaysia is a very important country for us—last year we did a Christmas tree and we wanted to grow again from a business point of view, but opening new stores isn't necessarily the same as growing the business. We need to make sure the brand is well-positioned. So what better than this [merry-go-round] to be the talk of the town? Two weeks ago, we were the official sponsor for accessories for Singapore Fashion Week, and earlier this year, we collaborated with our Friends of Swarovski, Neelofa and Venice Min as well. So we want to continue our story-telling and reach out to more customers in this manner.
Was the process behind this merry-go-round challenging?
It was very challenging—more so than the Christmas tree! There's a lot of technical aspect to it. It has 10 horses, two sleighs and one carriage, and two levels. The first level is where you ride, and the second level is where our iconic gift boxes, trees and ornaments are placed. We had to find out the exact position to place crystals, and to make it look appealing as well. The idea was to incorporate all elements of a traditional merry-go-round too. It took months to prepare, assemble, and even planning for the launch tonight.
Please share with us more about the SS17 collection.
The inspiration comes from two cities—Paris and Los Angeles. Both are favourite cities of our creative director Nathalie Colin who's based in Paris. The ones inspired by the French capital has more geometric shapes, influenced by the Eiffel tower, the Centre Pompidou, and elements of the city. Los Angeles, however, has a different vibe so we incorporated that with bohemian elements, brighter colours and tones. One of the highlights is fitted with a great piece of innovation—there are now 'dancing' crystals on necklaces, so when it sits on your neck, the crystal reflects, sparkles and also 'dances' thanks to a detailed mechanism.
Alongside that, Crystal Wishes, we think, will be a big hit as well. It comes in the form of two necklaces, one rhodium-plated and the other gold-plated. You can wear separately and give it to your best friend, or wear together for a statement. Another highlight is our reinterpretation of the Crystalline Oval watch, catered to our Asian clientele. The watch sits extremely well on the wrist, because it's smaller and not overly chunky. It comes in different tones and straps as well.
Do you try to cater exclusively for different regions?
Yes, we try to cater to the taste and expectations of our regional customers. Our clientele in Asia likes different coloured stones than our European counterparts, and they also prefer larger crystals in a variety of colours. The pearl-backed earrings were very popular as well in Asia.
Tell us more about Swarovski's holiday collection for 2016.
Our Fantastic collection is exclusive for the festive season, and is something different for us. It's more modern, not like the usual classic pieces we have. We also have our first automatic watch for women that we unveiled at Baselworld 2016, with a fully crystallised gear. Customers always ask us about automatic movements in our watches (that are usually fitted with quartz movements), so we thought why not do it?
The Christmas figurines this year are special too. We always have different shapes and additions in colour tones, and we actually have customers who make it a point to get our Christmas ornaments every year. The Nutcracker is exceptional for its detailed craftsmanship—you can hook a ribbon over it and tie it on a tree.
What are Swarovski's CSR initiatives for 2016 and 2017?
We wanted to give back this year as well, in conjunction with the launch of the merry-go-round. One ride on it costs RM10, and part of the proceeds will go to a charity association through Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. The second initiative is our pair of earrings called 'Flicker', which retails at RM150 and 100% of proceeds will be donated to an association. We have 300 sets available until stocks are depleted or until Christmas day—just a way of giving back to people this season. These two initiatives are carried out in Southeast Asia, but on the global level, we're much involved in our Waterschool program that provides education on issues that affect water. We have that everywhere around the world, including Brazil, Uganda and China.
Do you have a favourite from the recent collection?
It would be the necklace that Karlie Kloss wore in the #GiveBrilliant holiday ad campaign. I think it's festive and extremely modern. When I first saw it, I didn't think it would be for the holiday collection and for Christmas. But the more I look at it, the more it grows on me. Usually we stick to the same classic design, but it's great, quite like it's name: 'Fantastic'.
How does Swarovski toe the line between delivering classic pieces and contemporary designs?
The idea behind what we do is to position ourselves as a fashionable brand. So styling tips are an important part of our service in any store in the world. If customers say 'I want to buy a necklace', our Swarovski personnel will offer styling advice to them. For instance, why not wear an earring on one side instead of both, or stacking jewellery on the wrist? But we also listen to customers carefully to find out what they want. It's really all about bringing a bit of sparkle to every customer's life.
Also, we are the only fashion jewellery brand that has a creative director based in Paris with a full team of in-house designers. This makes us unique in terms of delivering fashion jewellery products—it really is like a fashion brand whereby we have two collections annually.