A Night in the Life of Swarovski

The British Film Awards

22 JULY 2017,
Caitriona Balfe at the BAFTA
Caitriona Balfe at the BAFTA

After many dreams of walking down the red carpet wearing a fabulous gown adorned by cutting-edge jewellery by Atelier Swarovski, teamed with divine heels, it appears that this moment has arrived. I am getting ready for my red carpet moment.

This is not something that I usually do for myself; one of my roles is often to style and dress prestigious actors for such affairs. Therefore it was a little daunting to think what to wear, how to wear it and what would be fitting for such a glamorous occasion. When it comes to dressing oneself, it is such a different perspective from styling a celebrity. Fortunately help is at hand and I have been invited to try on all of the Atelier Swarovski jewellery, the official Jewellery partner to BAFTA, who regularly contribute to celebrities’ glamourous appearance on red carpet and invite attendees to a special BAFTA Awards Styling Suite at The Savoy Hotel over the weekend of the Film Awards.

The recently renewed Savoy hotel is the perfect place for such an occasion and walking into one of the Art Deco suites I am offered a refreshing glass of Taittinger Champagne as I am introduced to the talented team of Lancôme who will be applying my make-up and the attentive Ken O’ Rourke from Charles Worthington who will be doing my hair in an Ava Gardner style, a Hollywood Golden Age favourite of mine. This is embellished with a hair clip hair which is part of a collection of hair ornaments created in collaboration with celebrated Parisian hair stylist John Nollet. Handcrafted in Parisian ateliers, the pieces feature hand-applied Swarovski crystals and feathers.

To define what BAFTA is, one has to look at the history of this prestigious event which is the equivalent of the Oscars in Los Angeles. Founded in 1947, the British Film Awards, as it was then known, was officially launched with the first meeting of its founding members, David Lean being appointed first chair. The first awards ceremony took place on 29 May 1949 at what is now the Odeon Leicester Square in London, hosted by producer Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios in their iconic heyday. Five awards were given out for films from both 1947 and 1948 and in 1952 the first award for best British actress was given to Vivien Leigh for her appearance in A Streetcar Named Desire and the first award for best foreign male actor was given to Marlon Brando for Viva Zapata!

Swarovski has collaborated with BAFTA since 2008, and the Academy’s work to support and develop talent makes it a natural partner for Swarovski, which is committed to promoting education and nurturing talent in the creative sphere. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image – film, television and game – in the United Kingdom. In addition to its annual awards ceremonies, BAFTA has an international, year-round programme of learning events and initiatives offering access to talent through workshops, master classes, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK and the USA.

Finally the night has arrived for me to head to the Royal Albert Hall and meet with our glamorous host Nadja Swarovski who has kindly invited me to share the evening with her and a small gathering of guests. My look is accentuated by my chic Atelier Swarovski large Cristaux Déco pendant and bracelet, a collection inspired by the Jazz era, combining a futuristic approach with old-world charm. inspired by the spirit of the Maison’s founder, Jeanne Lanvin, with Ruthenium plating which gives a “high-tech” look and can be plated onto a wide variety of metals. It is very hard and highly resistant to scratches. The old and the new combine perfectly for this kind of evening where technology meets art.

I first met Nadja some time ago on a photo shoot, and her charm and professionalism have impressed me over the years. She is the first female Member of the Executive Board of Swarovski, the world’s leading crystal manufacturer. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Daniel Swarovski, who founded the company in the Austrian Alps in 1895. Nadja has driven a program of creative collaborations that have revitalised the company over the past 20 years. As well as leading the company’s global branding and communications, she has commissioned new installations, artworks and products celebrating crystal that have continually positioned Swarovski at the vanguard of creative and lifestyle trends. From Alexander McQueen to Daniel Libeskind, the relationships she has built with figures in the worlds of fashion and jewellery design and architecture, film and art, have established her as one of the world’s leading creative patrons.

For more than 85 years Swarovski crystals have commanded a starring role on the silver screen, illuminating cinema’s brightest stars, from Marlene Dietrich shimmering in crystallized costumes as the unforgettable Blonde Venus to Lily James in 2015’s live-action Cinderella. Swarovski works hand-in-hand with costume, jewellery and production designers to create magic on screen, with Swarovski crystals playing a supporting role in some of Hollywood’s most memorable moments, from Marilyn Monroe sparkling in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to shimmering courtesans in Moulin Rouge and several glittering Bond girls.

In fashion, Nadja has built on Swarovski’s legacy of collaborating with the industry’s leading lights and emerging talents, implementing ground-breaking designer support and catwalk initiatives, including the Swarovski Collective (founded in 1999), and Runway Rocks (founded in 2003). Amongst the many ongoing projects and its commitment to ethical methods, Atelier Swarovski is now bringing Conscious Luxury to the red carpet with its first fine jewellery collection to be launched in 2018.

As the ceremony stunningly and glamorously continues into the small hours and Swarovski crystals are dazzling everywhere, I have to remind myself that tonight is not a dream. Thank you, Atelier Swarovski, for bringing craftsmanship, innovation and excellence to sustainable practices, and BAFTA for making the stars shine bright.