Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s Co-President and Artistic Director discusses the Maison’s long-standing partnership with the Cannes Film Festival and the new Red Carpet Collection.
For 25 years, Caroline Scheufele has nurtured and developed a partnership between Chopard and the Cannes Film Festival after personally securing it over 25 years ago. Each year Chopard’s Red Carpet High Jewellery collection is unveiled during the festival with actresses, actors, models, and other members of the film industry wearing the latest collections on the red carpet throughout the event. This star-studded festival has grown year on year and today it is the biggest, most glamourous, and most popular event of its kind in the world. But despite the growth and success, Caroline has remained humble and grateful throughout the past 25 years. Her passion for creating jewellery has never wavered and her love for what she does is truly felt with every meeting, interview, or conversation.
This year, Caroline looked to the very subject at the heart of this partnership: Cinema, for the inspiration for her latest high jewellery collection. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the festival, she has created a unique and special collection of 75 pieces, inspired by her personal film repertoire. Entirely crafted by the ‘Mains d’Art’ of the workshops, these masterpieces were worn by the actresses and actors who have come to support their films throughout the week.
Each of the beautiful pieces was designed with an iconic movie in mind. From the early black and white films to childhood fairy tales, to some of the grand movies of recent years. The collection, which was unveiled at the festival, expresses Scheufele’s zest for life and eclectic tastes driving her prolific inventiveness, along with her dazzling capacity to evoke emotions around her jewellery creations. Much like a film director, Scheufele has devised a high jewellery collection freely inspired by films that have had a lasting impact on her and of which the fabled scenes have been inducted into cinema’s hall of fame. This remarkable collection was brought to life by the combined talents and expertise of a team of jewellers such as only Chopard is capable of assembling. Here we discover more about the inspiration and the importance of this long-lasting partnership.
Can you tell us the story behind the new red-carpet collection?
This year the festival is celebrating 75 years and we are celebrating 25 years of Chopard being part of the Cannes Film Festival. It is 25 years since I redesigned the Palme d’Or so it’s a very special moment for me personally. As you know, I come up with a special theme every year to inspire the Red-Carpet collection and this year I was inspired by the world of cinema. Last year, I went to the closing ceremony in Cannes, and I met a very charming actor; William Abadie, who was in the TV series “Emily in Paris”. William asked me what I was planning to do for the Red-Carpet collection the following year, and at that point, I didn’t know. Then that night as I stepped out on the red carpet and saw all of the photographers and the guests, I realised it was staring at me right in the face: cinema is what should inspire me for the following year. And that’s how it began!
So, I decided to take 75 iconic international well-known movies that might remind you of your childhood or a place in the world or a moment in history. We started with Charlie Chaplin, who is one of my favourites and for me an icon, then we have movies such as “Gone with the Wind”, “Titanic”, “Avatar”, “Mickey Mouse” and many more.
What is a piece that you spent the most time thinking about or was the biggest challenge?
Some pieces for sure were trickier than others. “The Godfather” piece for example was challenging. In the film, the main character wore a rose on his tuxedo so that would have been an obvious inspiration for the jewel related to this film, but I already had a rose for Charlie Chaplin because in the movie “The City Light” Charlie gave a rose to a blind woman, so I could not take away from this. So eventually I decided to work on a men’s watch for “The Godfather” inspired piece.
We had something for “Pretty Woman” which seems straightforward, as she had the iconic necklace in the movie, but I did not want to create the same necklace because it would not be me.
What was your state of mind when you were thinking about designing this collection?
Well enjoying movies is one of my passions. I love the world of cinema, so I was in a state of mind that I enjoy. In that respect, it wasn’t difficult. I had a book that featured the best 1,000 movies, I started with this, and it evolved from there.
Tell us about some more of the pieces of the collection: the one inspired by the Bridges of Venice is very beautiful…
This is in relation to a movie called “Death in Venice” and I am a big fan of Venice so it was one of the first movies on my list. Venice is filled with bridges, and I had to think about how to integrate the architecture into jewellery but I think it’s a nice synergy and of course, the blue Aquamarine represents the water.
And everyone was talking about the rose that we saw being worn on the red carpet
This is the piece I mentioned that is inspired by Charlie Chaplin. The idea is that you wear this piece on a tuxedo, but you can also take it off and put the rose on a silk scarf around the neck. It’s super light and it’s inspired by a fantastic scene in the film. The whole collection started with Charlie Chaplin, and you see a little bit of him everywhere around our activations at Cannes. I am a big fan of his, for me, he is an idol in the film industry, I feel he was somehow supernatural. He was one of the first actors in movies and his first movies were silent and all black and white. I went to see his museum in Switzerland, it’s breathtaking. This is where he used to live with his family, he had eight kids, and everything is still intact. There is also a room where he used to cut movies. He wrote them, directed them, acted in them, and then cut them himself. And he created the music – he did everything! And of course, one of the most iconic moments in his movie “City Life” is when he handed over the rose to a blind lady, and that is the inspiration behind this piece.
Tell us about the process of creating this collection
It was a lot of fun actually. Members of my team came up with their own ideas and reminded me of movies I had forgotten about, and it was really interesting! In the beginning, it felt impossible to connect some of these movies to pieces of jewellery, for a lot of them, we had to go deeply into the story of the film to find the right concept and the right stones.
In your opinion how would you describe the evolution of the film festival?
I feel that I have somehow grown up with the Festival. 25 years ago it was much smaller, it wasn’t what you see now. When I arrived, I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I knew I liked cinema and we were opening a boutique on The Promenade de la Croisette and that was the reason for us joining the festival initially. I met with the president of the festival at that time, and we planned to have one dinner celebrating the opening of the store. He suggested I met with their partners L’Oreal and Canal Plus and he told me they didn’t have any watches or jewellery partners. That’s when my little brain started to work and I said “maybe we can do something on a longer basis?” I told him “You know diamonds belong on the red carpet and on beautiful actresses” and he thought about it and said, “why not?”
At his office behind him was the old Palme D’Or which was made by a small atelier in Paris. I asked him if it was the real one and if I could make a proposition of how it could be more elegant, more prestigious, and glamorous. He was silent for two minutes and then he said “yes, why not?” And then I literally left Paris with the Palme d’Or that day! I went back to Geneva and I stormed into my brother’s office and told him the news and he thought I was crazy! That’s how it all started!
When we came to the first festival, we had a tiny room in the Majestic Hotel. On one side was my bedroom and on the other side was the showroom. The safe was in my room and I came with boxes of our chocolates which I put into everyone’s rooms. I had a couple of meetings with stylists and then I met Salma Hayek who was one of the first to wear our jewellery at the event. She said, “Ah you’re the one who makes chocolate!” And I said no “we make watches and jewellery!” And she said, “but these chocolates are really good!”
And that’s how it began!
25 years later, how would you assess the partnership today?
25 years later you see what Cannes has become and I think we have grown up with each other. It’s a love story over time. But things have changed. Back then there were no mobile phones, no internet, and no Instagram. It was classical press, some TV, and magazines, but now the communication is completely different.
Which phase do you like more?
I think the festival still tries to keep its focus on cinema and I am still doing everything I can to get the message across. There are a lot of people that like to participate in the festival and to have this feeling and emotion of walking on the red carpet. I think it’s different today, but I wouldn’t say it was better or worse, just different.
Is there anything you would change from this 25-year collaboration?
The festival has L’Oreal as an official partner and then they have all the other sponsors. If I was sitting in the chair of the festival organisers, I would be stricter with the others coming in. I’m also referring to ourselves because there is no need for everyone to be here, but everyone thinks they have to go to Cannes!
What else is in the pipeline this year for Chopard?
The Mille Miglia is coming up which is another event that is always on our calendar. We have a big boutique opening in New York coming up as we move from Madison Avenue to Fifth Avenue. We have the opening of the Paris hotel and the boutique at the end of the year or the beginning of next year. We have exciting projects in Dubai in the pipeline! And apart from that, we are celebrating 25 years of the watch Manufacture; my brother’s baby! So, the calendar is full.
You have achieved so much so far – what is a challenge you face still being one of the few independent brands ruling in this sector?
It’s a challenge because there are many big groups and then there is us and we are very small in comparison! These big groups often have a portfolio of brands and when for example they want to have a good store location, they can demand the stores they want next to them. They have a stronger negotiation power. On the other hand, I believe that there is nothing that can replace family. And nothing can also replace the freedom we have to be creative and to develop new techniques of production, to be spontaneous, to do something in the moment and I think that is a big plus. And, when our clients come to us, they can meet the family and truly know the people behind the company.
How challenging has it been for you to remain so humble despite the success?
I think it comes from my education and childhood. My parents always taught us to be grounded. I also think it’s maybe to do with the area that I come from in Germany as the people there are very much like this. And I don’t like arrogant people and people who are not nice for no reason. So, since I don’t like these traits, I do everything that I can to not be like that.
What is a message that you would send to our readers in the Middle East?
I am very grateful, proud, and humbled that there are so many fans of Chopard in the Middle East and so many beautiful women are wearing our creations and I’ll try to be as creative as possible so that this continues.