Q&A: Nathalie Colin, Swarovski creative director

The Paris-based designers talks books, trends and budding brands.

Swarovski creative director Nathalie Colin knows good jewellery design. This year she has launched a jewellery style book, collaborated with Shourouk and still has time to share her tips for new talents breaking into the industry.

Inside the monolithic, sparkling loop that was Swarovski’s stand at BaselWorld its creative director Nathalie Colin is laughing, jewels glinting at her neck and wrist. She is here to tell Professional Jeweller about the brand’s new collection, emerging trends and the jewellery style book she has penned with the brand.

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Professional Jeweller: As the creative director of a globally renowned brand how do you source your inspiration?
Nathalie Colin: When you start in this business there is no longer time to rest because every moment, whether you’re listening to music or travelling, will influence you. It is like being a sponge or having an Instagram screen in front of you — you collect ideas, images and at some point it all makes sense.

PJ: What kind of music icons inspire Swarovski’s collections?
NC: Debbie Harry of course, and Madonna. That’s the kind of music I put on at 6pm when I’m working. Rock music especially is great to work to.

PJ: Tell us about the book you have launched this year, Multiface(t)s: Style Yourself with Jewelry
NC: When I was meeting people all around the world there were common questions all the time: how should I wear jewellery? What are the rules? So I searched online and realised there was no such book that existed as a guide. I spoke to [Swarovski chief executive of consumer goods] Robert Buchbauer about writing a book and he said ‘Yes, go for it’. It has a mirrored cover with a big necklace so when you hold it up you understand the topic, seeing your reflection. Inside it is broken down into chapters for career girls, jewellery to wear every day, showing people that jewellery is not just for ceremonies or cocktail parties. If you want to make a statement pick just one style of jewellery, for example bracelets, and pile them. We also discuss how to wear jewellery with sweaters and white shirts. The book features models but also real life people and employees of Swarovski modelling jewellery.

PJ: What kinds of trends have you forecasted for jewellery in AW13?
NC: I think a really strong theme this winter is the medallion. Cabochon stone medallions as pendants or worn as brooches are coming back very strong. Necklaces that you wear high, close to the neck, under the collar of your shirt are also big, styled in an almost historic way but with a modern twist. Like we have seen this summer, there will be continued trend for oversized earrings which I think will continue through to SS14, too. We will see more jewellery that is about stacking and collecting things.

PJ: Swarovski has collaborated with French designer Shourouk for AW13. What did this entail?
NC: When we started to work on the AW13 collection the whole story that we had in mind was inspired by the Silk Road. I wanted to invite a designer to work on the collection; it had to be someone that I loved as a designer but would fit with the story and Shourouk was perfect. Her work is bold but comfortable, smooth and light to wear. The result of our work together is a very decorative range with an opulent theme.

PJ: What advice would you offer to designers just starting out?
NC: It is very important for designers to understand how jewellery is made [at a manufacture level], because you are working in 3D and so there are a lot of techniques that a designer can choose from. I was discussing this recently with Simon Fraser [the MA course leader] at Central Saint Martins. This is what he is teaching and it is exactly what the industry needs. Secondly, broaden your source of inspiration, don’t just look at jewellery, try other fields of design. Even for our team at Swarovski I have hired people coming from animation backgrounds who have never designed jewellery before as I wanted people to have a different perspective on things. Study other subjects or try other courses to develop your own style and build a unique theme for yourself. I think that’s very important, not only for new designers but also brands. The world is packed with brands, packed with products and packed with people, so don’t try to fit in, stand out. Like [stylist and jewellery designer] Eric Damon said ‘don’t apologise, accessorise’.

This Q&A was taken from the August issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.




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