The link between Swarovski and fashion began in the late nineteenth century, when Daniel Swarovski first built relationships with couturiers like the house of Charles Frederick Worth. Worth embroidered Swarovski crystals into stunning ball gowns, and in doing so, sparked the beginnings of crystal as a versatile creative ingredient for designers ever since.
In 1995, Nadja Swarovski joined the family business and brought with her a determination to reignite those elemental connections with fashion. She launched a series of initiatives to strengthen Swarovski’s links with the industry’s hottest designers. This led to a young Alexander McQueen – London’s brightest talent at the time – being supplied with Swarovski crystals for his stunning Spring/Summer 1999 collection.
That memorable collaboration demonstrated the power of Swarovski crystal at the very cutting edge of the fashion world. It also provided the blueprint for the Swarovski Collective, a long-running program of support for designers with the goal of encouraging and challenging fashion talent to push the boundaries of crystal use. In the years since, over 100 million Swarovski crystals have been provided to top design talent such as Mary Katrantzou, Jason Wu, Christopher Kane and Hussein Chalayan. As part of the Swarovski Collective, designers were supported with fashion shows and granted access to an extensive catalogue of crystals, allowing them to explore the versatility of crystals as a creative ingredient in their work.
The innovation and craftsmanship of the designers involved in the Swarovski Collective was honored with the introduction of the Swarovski Collective Award in 2015. The prize of €25,000 was awarded to Peter Pilotto in its inaugural year, followed by New York designer Rosie Assoulin and London’s Faustine Steinmetz. Intended to help develop future collections, the award gave fashion designers the freedom to explore new possibilities in their designs.
The final chapter of the Swarovski Collective came in 2017, having successfully supported over 150 designers from the world’s four fashion capitals. But this wasn’t to mark the end of Swarovski’s support for design talent – each season, Swarovski maintains its support of emerging and established designers at all of the major fashion weeks through its #SwarovskiCreativeCollaborations initiative.