21 Apr High-End Jewelry Is Big Business For Celebs
New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman kicked off a panel discussion at the Savannah College of Art and Design on Thursday about red carpet dressing by listing some sensational, but nonetheless true, facts. In 2006, actress Charlize Theron was paid $50,000 for wearing two pieces of Chopard to the BAFTAs, $200,000 for wearing Chopard to the Oscars and $50,000 worth of jewelry in gifts for wearing Cartier to the Golden Globes. Not bad work if you can get it.
The red carpet is a big business, where luxury brands are willing to spend a lot of money for the priceless visibility and press that comes from having a certain celebrity wear their gowns, jewelry and accessories. So how do smaller designers — like Juan Carlos Obando, Irene Neuwirth and Brett Heyman of Edie Parker — compete for coveted celebrity placement if they can’t afford, or aren’t willing, to pay a fee?
It still costs them, but in other ways. Heyman says she will produce bespoke bags for special events, with the hope that a celebrity will be excited to wear something custom-made, even though there’s no guarantee she’ll wear it. It costs the price of production — anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand — but she said that the biggest sacrifice is time.
Neuwirth’s fine jewelry price point is so high that gifting is almost out of the question. “For me to give something away would cost me upwards of $10,000, so if we ever gift anything, it’s a very personal thing,” she said. “And in return we haven’t been able to dress certain people.” But just because someone is willing to borrow something for free doesn’t mean Neuwirth is interested in having them associated with her brand. “At the beginning someone would pull something and say, ‘I’m pulling for Angelina Jolie but Lisa Rinna may end up wearing it.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not, we’ll just hold the pieces.'” She admitted she’s also actively prevented Kim Kardashian from buying her jewelry. “I know the power of the celebrity and if it’s going to be important, I’m going to be really picky about it.” She knows her customers would be turned off by the association.