EXCLUSIVE! Cinemazzi talks to Nadja Swarovski for ROMEO AND JULIET

You may not realise it but Swarovski crystals have been starring in films since the 1930s, ever since they first appeared in classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind.  

Keep digging further, and it’s hard to find a single visually exciting film that the 120-year-old company hasn’t been involved with.

Iconic 1950’s favourites like Roman Holiday, Sabrina and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Check. The ultimate fashionista’s fantasy Breakfast at Tiffany’s? You betcha. Modern day phenomenons such as Titanic, The Great Gatsby, Black Swan, Sex and the City, Chicago, Thor, Nine, The Hunger Games… the list is endless.

Even the Bond franchise calls on the luxury house for a little bling.

This week I had the honour of interviewing Nadja Swarovski, great-great-granddaughter of founder Daniel Swarovski and the company’s first ever female executive board member, to tell us about Swarovski Entertainment.

What’s that now? You heard right: Swarovski has made their Hollywood romance official by adding another feather to their bow. Film production.

With such a lovely Hollywood history, launching Swarovski Entertainment to produce their own films is a natural evolution, says Nadja.

“From supporting costume production, we just thought it would be the next logical step,” she says. “We see this as an investment in creativity — not a financial investment.”

First cab off the rank is Carlos Carlei’s heady adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, starring newcomers Douglas Booth (Great Expectations) and Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) as Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers.

The fabulous supporting cast includes Homeland‘s Damian Lewis, Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick and Australian rising star Kodi Smit-McPhee (who we recently featured in 11 rising Australian actors to watch in 2014).

Read our exclusive chat with Nadja Swarovski below!

Romeo and Juliet Swarovski
Newcomers Douglas Booth and Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld play star-crossed lovers in Swarovski Entertainment’s Romeo and Juliet

Marie-Christine: How long did it take for Swarovski Entertainment to find its first film?

Nadja Swarovski: We were exploring our options at first; we were sent scripts from various producers to see how Swarovski could get involved. It was really important to find the right players who are on the same page; who have the same vision, the same mission, and who want to work in a symbiotic way rather than from a power situation.

Romeo & Juliet was an opportunity that came to us from three different people in the same week, one of them being (Downton Abbey screenwriter) Julian Fellowes, who is a family friend. He called up and said he had adapted the script of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and asked us what we thought. I thought it sounded fantastic.

I imagine this new role of producing films also gives you greater creative licence on the overall look and feel of a film, beyond just working with the costume and production departments, which must be really exciting.

We had a say in every element, but I have to say that in that arena, when you are working with such great talents as Julian, Milena (Canonero) and Carlo (Carlei), who are experts in their field, who am I to interfere? We really saw ourselves as enablers of creativity and, ultimately, we all wanted the same thing – to create a fantastic movie.

Is this the most extravagant costuming that Swarovski crystal has done for a film? 

We worked with (costume designer) Carlo Poggioli on his amazing vision for the costumes. He could choose whatever he wanted to work with and there was no pressure at all to use the product.

We have been fortunate enough to work on some really exciting films – both in terms of costume and stage design. We’ve provided crystals for films such as Nine, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Black Swan as well as for the latest instalment of Bond, where we worked with Jany Temime on a bespoke crystal tattoo for the backless dress worn by Berenice Marlohe’s character Severine and also with jeweller Stephen Webster on a fashion jewellery collection inspired by the movie.

Swarovski Romeo and Juliet 6
Half a million crystals were used on the early Renaissance costumes, jewellery and masks in Romeo and Juliet

Swarovski has twice collaborated with Australians Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin (for Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby) both of whom are known for their extraordinary visuals. The collaboration must have been quite an experience.

Both Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin are extraordinary artists, and it’s always amazing to work with them. They have extremely unique visions and interpretations of iconic stories that go hand-in-hand with Swarovski’s ethos.

Can you tell us any other films that Swarovski Entertainment is currently working on, and when they will be released?

What’s most important to us is to look for the right partners, who have the same values as us, and then the subject matter. We’re considering a number of exciting projects at the moment, but none that I can tell you about!

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
“Anything that was meant to be a diamond was actually a Swarovski crystal”. Case in point: the tiara that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Swarvoski has worked on some of the most famous movies of all time. Are you able to tell us any of the iconic costumes that Swarovski specifically created for these films?

We’ve always been an integral part of (the film industry) since the emergence of the silver screen. Anything that was meant to be a diamond was actually a Swarovski crystal, whether it was the tiara that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the slippers in The Wizard of Oz or Marilyn Monroe’s jewellery.

Our crystals also adorn the stages of industry events like the Academy Awards, which we’ve done seven times.

In the last 15 years or so we’ve been working even more closely with costume and set designers and we thought: since we’re involved anyway, it would make sense to actually invest in the development of films and produce ourselves.

Why is Swarovski the world’s first luxury brand to officially step into the world of filmmaking?

This is a natural evolution for Swarovski since we’re 120 years old and always looking for new business opportunities. We are supporting so much creativity across so many different fields, from fashion, jewellery, architecture, and art. From supporting costume production, we just thought it would be the next logical step. We see this as an investment in creativity — not a financial investment.

Romeo and Juliet is in cinemas across Australia now.

the author

Marie C

Feature writer by trade, movie maniac by night, Marie-Christine grew up watching films from the projection booth at the local drive-in and now she's lucky enough to write about them.

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