Both "dazzling and discreet" - according to Saillard - in its collaborations with the fashion industry, Swaroski's status as the embellishment ‘de choix’ of designers was cemented in the final years of the 19th century and remains unrivalled in fashion history.
In 1895, just as Paris’s first haute couture houses began to gain global recognition, Daniel Swarovski founded his business in Wattens, a small village in the Austrian Tyrol. Far away from beady eyes of Bohemia’s rival crystal makers, he was able to harness alpine streams to create hydroelectricity and power his innovative crystal cutting machines.
Daniel travelled by train from Wattens to Paris to provide new cuts and colors for the designers, returning each season with a suitcase packed with shimmering creations that added hitherto unseen sparkle to haute couture garments and accessories. By the time of the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, numerous shining gowns were on display by maisons including Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Lanvin and Jean Patou – all with Daniel Swarovski’s trademark sparkle.
By the 1930s, it was a new generation of luminaries such as Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli who joined milliner-turned-couturier Jeanne Lanvin, scattering Swarovski crystal over monochrome crepe and muslin gowns, and crafting stunning glimmering eveningwear accessories.
125 years later, this early haute couture heritage lives on in a brand which fashion critic Suzy Menkes calls “a byword for shimmering elegance”, as fashion houses from Alexander McQueen to Zuhair Murad conjure real-life runway dreams from fabric, thread and shining Swarovski stones.