She met with some rejections. Judith Leiber, the upscale maker of $3,000 crystal evening bags who had been one of Swarovski’s biggest U.S. trade accounts since the 1960s, said no to adding the hangtag. "Judith Leiber is already such an established name. We don’t feel the need to add their name to promote Leiber," says Maggy Siegal, president of Judith Leiber.

Ms Swarovski had better luck when she zeroed in on influential but cash-starved designers such as Zac Posen and Proenza Schouler in New York, beginning in 2002. Then 21 years old, Mr. Posen had barely scraped together family funds to launch his fashion business the year before. He eagerly signed. "I always like crystal-I just couldn’t afford it-and I wanted to be in the forefront of embellished fashions which were just coming in style," he says.

Swarovski’s technicians helped him learn how to sew heavy crystals so that they wouldn’t tear or sag the fabric, he says. In Mr. Posen’s spring 2003 runway show, four of the 36 outfits featured Swarovski crystals, including a shimmering minidress worn by supermodel Naomi Campbell, which he dubbed "Firefly." Mr. Posen credited Swarovski at every turn. "I consider them a big part of launching my career," he says.

Ms. Swarovski was quick to recognize that Mr. Posen was becoming one of Seventh Avenue’s hottest new talents. Party organizers said she spent about $150,000 to host a party for him after last year’s spring show with 600 guests at the Four Seasons restaurant, installing a special crystal chandelier and huge vats filled with crystals. Mr. Posen was among the revelers who stepped into the vats to dance, while other partygoers scooped up the crystals and stuffed them into their pockets.

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