#ELLEExclusive: Giovanna Engelbert On Designing Her Debut Collection As Swarovski’s First-Ever Creative Director
Giovanna Engelbert, a former model, stylist, and editor, was recently appointed as the creative director of Swarovski. A first of its kind position announcement made in the iconic brand’s 125 years of history.
For her first collection, Giovanna was inspired by founder Daniel Swarovski’s original technical drawings. The pieces are manifestations of the fundamental properties of the crystal. Set in an imaginary Wonderlab, her idea was to amalgamate the concept of magic and math, which successfully resulted in modern candy-coloured jewellery that was equal parts contemporary and bold.
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In a virtual conversation from her current headquarters in Stockholm, Giovanna Engelbert spoke to ELLE about her new journey while giving a glimpse of her past and her future vision.
ELLE: Your expansive career in fashion started as a model to now as the first-ever creative director for an iconic jewellery brand like Swarovski. Tell us about this transition?
Giovanna Engelbert: I have always been in the creative business, so this felt like a natural evolution. Even as a model, I was creatively involved in my role, so this felt like a perfect match. Also, Swarovski isn’t just a jewellery brand; it’s a whole universe of components, elements, stones and science that fascinated me.
ELLE: While you have worked with the brand as a consultant, how different is it to now helm the brand from a creative perspective?
GE: The major difference is in the level of responsibilities. While even as a consultant, I dealt with other creative heads, but it was more on a touch-and-go basis. My new role is about being here and doing my part at all times. In addition to that, I also have to think about the commercial aspects of the design now, which wasn’t my concern as a consultant.
ELLE: There’s a maximalist approach in your design, which is a new point of view for Swarovski. Tell us a little more about that?
GE: It makes me happy to see that you can spot my aesthetic in the design. For me, it was like winning a ticket into Willy Wonka’s factory, but instead of chocolate, I got to play with crystals, and I wanted to make the most of it. As a collector and lover of jewellery, I played with the idea of structure, size and its cascading effect on the human body. Of course, keeping Swarovski’s elegant signature style in mind, I made sure it wasn’t camp or OTT but statement-making enough to enhance the wearer’s personality.
ELLE: What made you explore the idea of playing with the geometry of crystals?
GE: Since the universe of Swarovski is so vast, I knew I had to integrate its history in my first line. Not very often you work with a company that also produces its own material, which I why I designed backwards, keeping the material in mind. The geometrical aspect of crystals makes it very genderless, which is what I wanted my jewellery to be; I didn’t want it to be extremely feminine or girly. It has an edgy vibe but also has the classic Swarovski appeal.
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