How Rihanna is helping Chopard sell high jewellery
How the high jewellery world wins over Millennials is an evolving experiment and Chopard’s current collaboration with 29-year-old superstar Rihanna is one of the more adventurous – after all, she has 25 tattoos and an album titled Good Girl Gone Bad.
Few – and certainly not the arbiters of best-dressed celebrity lists – would dispute the multi-Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and actor’s status as a style icon, however. Remember her headline grabbing turn at the Met Gala in honour of avant garde Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons this year? Valid as that credential is, perhaps more significant is the fact that she has 55 million Instagram followers. It’s what you might call a direct route to Chopard’s next-gen clientele.
“Collaborating with Rihanna definitely reaches to the younger audience, but it brings about also a fresh perspective,” says Caroline Scheufele, co-president and creative director of Chopard, the family-owned Swiss watch and jewellery business she runs with her brother Karl-Friedrich.
“Rihanna’s ability to play with jewellery is like no one else, and her bold and modern choices made our collaboration unique … it was exactly what I was looking for.”
Scheufele first met Rihanna two years ago and learned she was keen to “design something together”. The pair then worked closely on the Rihanna Loves Chopard collaboration, which has a high jewellery collection, and a pared-back range, priced from $1793.
Unveiled at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival in May, the 17-piece Rihanna Loves Chopard haute joaillerie collection celebrated the maison’s 20th year as the festival’s official partner. The vibrant pieces take inspiration from Rihanna’s Barbadian heritage, or as Scheufele puts it, “the lush gardens of Barbados and the electricity of Carnival”.
The haute joaillerie collection includes chandelier earrings studded with clusters of yellow, pink and blue sapphires, aquamarines, rubies and diamonds (and more); diamond cuffs that snake up the ear; and a twinkling watch set with 18.6 carats of pear-shaped and 13 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. There are butterflies, flowers and a sense that too much can never quite be enough. The nine-piece, 18-carat rose gold core collection features slick, geometric pieces with rectangles of jungle green ceramic, a colour chosen by the singer.
Opportunity to experiment
Scheufele describes the collaboration as an opportunity for her maison to experiment. Stacy Jones, chief executive of Los Angeles-based celebrity marketing agency Hollywood Branded, describes it as shrewd.
“Chopard has managed to open the doors to a younger demographic that was less familiar with their brand, and who will view the brand as cool and aspirational,” she says. “As this demographic ages, their purchase decisions on jewellery will have been coloured and impacted by this celebrity partnership, heightening future sales.”
Typically, celebrity-luxury brand collaborations have involved ad campaigns, brand ambassadorships and the lucrative and competitive business of draping celebrities in jewels for events. An example of how things are changing is the commercial released on social media and in select cinemas in June that was directed by Sofia Coppola for Cartier to celebrate the relaunch of the historic Paris jeweller’s Panthère watch. (Coppola made history at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in becoming only the second woman to win the best director prize for The Beguiled.)
This kind of celebrity buy-in has become crucial for luxury brands to achieve cut-through, says Jones. “The future of luxury brands is based on those brands finding a way to appeal to Millennial audiences. Many Millennials value where they spend money very differently than those of the Gen X or Baby Boomer generations. Experiences are more important than a single big purchase. Finding a way to communicate and engage with a Millennial as they grow through life has to be the backbone to any brand’s strategy – of any category,” she says.
The Rihanna Loves Chopard collections arrive in Chopard’s Sydney and Melbourne boutiques from this month.