How Chopard Takes By Storm The Red Carpet Spotlight in Cannes

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Bella Hadid sported Chopard earrings and rings on the red carpet in Cannes. GETTY IMAGES FOR BAUER-GRIFFIN
The Swiss brand out-sparkles rivals with a strategy aimed at driving sales as well as image. This year the company dressed Greta Gerwig, Demi Moore and Bella Hadid as well as hosting clients to view (and purchase) its high jewellery range.
Neubauer Coporation
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Bella Hadid and Sienna Miller seized the spotlight in Cannes — with red carpet appearances at the premieres of “The Apprentice” and “Horizon: An American Saga” that garnered as much online attention as the films themselves. Hadid wore a nipple-bearing Saint Laurent dress, while Miller attracted headlines for bringing her 11-year-old daughter as her date on the festival stairs.

Hadid and Miller were also notably wearing jewels by Chopard, the Geneva-based maison which has long been synonymous with the Cannes Film Festival. The Geneva-based house has been Cannes’ official partner for 27 years and, in addition to crafting the festival’s Palme d’Or trophy, the event is key for jewerly business.

A privately-owned Swiss company, the company, which owns its own workshops, does not report financial figures. Around 55 percent of revenue coming from watches and 45 percent from jewellery respectively (while jewellery makes up a higher share of volumes).

Erwan Rambourg, global head of consumer and retail research at HSBC, estimates Chopard’s total sales at around €1 billion. He cites Chopard’s exposure to both watches and jewellery as a key advantage over peers.

Cartier is the only other maison with such an equal split, he says. Meanwhile, Chopard’s link to Cannes is “a rare asset.”

“Being associated with one of the most prestigious events in entertainment full-stop is difficult to replicate,” Rambourg says. “Luxury consumption is about escapism. No one needs a piece of jewellery – it’s all about escapism and aspiration. And the entertainment and cinema industries are about escapism.”

Cannes’ unique coverage of global celebrities also offers maximum impact: Sunday’s screening of “Horizon” also welcomed Michelle Yeoh alongside Kevin Costner. A few hours earlier, the same red carpet had hosted the screening for “Feng Liu Yi Dai (Caught by the Tides),” by Golden Lion-winning Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke.

Symbiotic Partnerships

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Demi Moore and Sienna Miller both wore Chopard jewels on the red carpet in Cannes. (COURTESY)

Collaboration between brands and cinema goes into overdrive during the festival with stars leveraging their fashion and jewellery partnerships to garner maximum visibility for their projects. Meanwhile, brands get the chance to place early bets on hit films and emerging stars months ahead of the awards cycle.

“The more incredible someone looks, the more likely they are to be on the front cover of The Times of London or The Times in New York, which is ultimately really good in helping to promote that film around the world,” says Jonathan Sanders, a London-based branding agent for talents including film stars.

Cannes, he says, is where the game is raised. “It’s really like a love story where the power of film and fashion collide.”

The glitzy efforts add up: Cannes Festival activations last year generated online buzz for brands with an estimated value of $1.3 billion, according to fashion data consultancy Launchmetrics.

No wonder that Chopard forges ties with names linked to the festival, ensuring regular coverage over the 12-day period. This year’s jury president Greta Gerwig, jury member Eva Green and the Cannes Film Festival’s president Iris Knobloch have regularly worn Chopard.

Chopard’s media placements ranked the highest among jewellery players, valued by Launchmetrics at $37.3 million; the house was also the only jewellery pure-player among the festival’s top-five most visible brands overall.

Beyond the Festival Steps

And in addition to dressing celebrities every day of the festival, Chopard complements the red carpet with its own high-profile events.

Chopard holds court throughout the festival at the rooftop of the Hôtel Martinez, located right on the famous Croisette beach avenue. With wrap-around views of the Côte d’Azur, it’s the ideal location to host parties, press and celebrities as well as VIP clients.

The brand’s “Trophée Chopard” gala honours up-and-coming talent, and is presided over each year by a more established Hollywood figure. This year the young talents’ “godmother” was actress Demi Moore — who for the first time has a film at the festival, and who has worn Chopard at a host of appearances from red carpets to press calls.

Each May, Chopard also unveils its latest high jewellery collection (fittingly referred to as its Red Carpet range). This year, the brand invested even more in spotlighting the exclusive range by staging a runway show for the launch, held Tuesday at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.

The 77-piece, fairytale-themed outing called “Contes de Fées” features quirky, playful designs like a mushroom-shaped ring set with white, orange, cognac and brown diamonds, and a pair of yellow diamond earrings that the actress Eva Green wore on the red carpet last week. The one-off pieces start at a six-figure price tag.

The link to top celebrities can boost the appeal of high jewellery pieces for some customers. “There are clients that love that it was worn by somebody [famous],” says Ms. Scheufele. “It’s happened before that a client will go into the New York boutique with a press cut-out of Julia Roberts wearing Chopard, and want that exact necklace. And they weren’t even at Cannes.”

Other collectors come to fête the collection of top-end pieces in Cannes, but prefer to reserve jewels exclusively for themselves. “They say, ‘I don’t want it to be worn, even if by an important person’,” explains Ms. Scheufele.

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Chopard staged a runway show to spotlight its high jewellery during the Cannes Film Festival. (COURTESY)

Money-Can’t-Buy Access

Hosting clients in Cannes – where they walk the red carpet alongside stars and attend world premieres – offers a unique, money-can’t-buy experience. Events like Chopard’s “Red Carpet” collection make the festival not just a place for driving image, but direct sales.

“Cannes is a very special atmosphere and it definitely puts you in another mood,” says Mr. Scheufele, who also showcases Chopard watches during Cannes (Chris Hemsworth wore a gem-encrusted Alpine Eagle 41 Frozen for last week’s premiere of “Furiosa: a Mad Max Saga”). “Inspiration, the world of cinema that surrounds you, the kind of colourful set of people and the whole atmosphere when you arrive in Cannes – all that transports you to another world,” he added.

Scheufele says the brand’s high jewellery clients are increasingly younger – as young as 25 – with Asia especially buoyant. Clients are also more informed than ever, about quality, provenance and sustainability – the latter of which should be good news for Chopard, which was an early mover in improving traceability and ethical sourcing for gold.

Women, adds Ms. Scheufele, are also self-purchasing more than ever. “They like to have their own diamonds – it doesn’t need to come from the fiancée or the father,” she says. “The clients want to say: ‘I bought this with my own money’.”

Chopard employs over 50 craftspeople dedicated solely to high jewellery, allowing it to work closely with collectors on custom pieces, or with film stars and stylists on special projects (the house has even ‘co-designed’ high jewellery sets with the likes of Julia Roberts). “We are a family business and not from a big group,” says Ms. Scheufele. “We go more into the little details – we hustle and bustle.”

With two days to go before Saturday’s Closing Ceremony, Chopard remains hard at work with stylists and talent to make sure it out-sparkles peers up to the festival’s final bash.

Cartier, Piaget, Boucheron, Chaumet and Messika have also ramped up efforts to spotlight their high jewellery creations at the festival in recent years. But so far that’s only seen Chopard double down on defending its Cannes territory. As Rambourg says: “You would be hell bent on keeping that, because it’s a phenomenal asset.”

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