Swarovski’s 22 Dark Crystals

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Published September 7, 2010

In the shimmering world of Swarovski, the little black dress is anything but basic. To kick off New York Fashion Week tonight, the iconic Austrian Crystal brand will open “22 Ways to Say Black,” an exhibition-cum-auction that fuses the classic and the glamorous to celebrate everyone’s favorite cocktail staple. Hosted by Phillips de Pury and Co., the exhibition called upon 22 of the world’s most innovative designers, including Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Vivienne Westwood and Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy, to create one-of-a-kind Swarovski-embellished LBD’s, each of which will be auctioned off on September 20th. Under the patronage of France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and La Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer in France. Below, Markus Lampe of Swarovski Elements explains that, while he can’t decide which of these collaborative creations he prefers, he assures us that, from the pleated crystal-sleeve wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg to the patent sheepskin apron dress by Fendi, each is a sparkling sight to be seen.   KATHARINE ZARRELLA: What’s the significance of the number 22?

MARKUS LAMPE: There is no real symbolic significance, but with the collection of 22 dresses, we were able to have representation of not only very established designers but also promising young designers, so it was a very good showcase project and in line with our core value of ongoing creative engagement with the world of design.ZARRELLA: How did this project come together?

MARKUS LAMPE: Over the last century, the Little Black Dress has made its mark as the ultimate expression of chic, becoming a wardrobe staple for stylish women everywhere. Now a major international initiative from Swarovski Elements brings added glamour to this fashion classic, while fund-raising for charity at the same time. A select group of designers from around the world were invited to create a spectacular Little Black Dress embellished with Swarovski Elements.

ZARRELLA: How did Carla Bruni-Sarkozy come to be involved?

LAMPE: Cancer research and treatment is a very high priority for the French government and heath system, so it was a natural choice for France’s First Lady to bestow her patronage on the charity auction. The proceeds of the auction are to go to two major charities supporting cancer research, one of which is French. The other is American.

ZARRELLA: How did you go about selecting the participating designers?

LAMPE: Pamela Golbin, fashion curator at the Musée des art décoratifs, Louvre/Paris was the curator for this project and she commissioned the designs in consultation with us.

ZARRELLA: How do you feel Swarovski Elements amp up the classic LBD?

LAMPE: Black has often been referred to as “basic,” but in the world of fashion, the celebrated “little black dress” is anything but. A starting point of haute couture and as relevant today as it has been in the past, the “little black dress” is where creative talent has truly excelled. With this in mind, Swarovski Elements commissioned Giorgio Armani Privé, Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, Lanvin by Alber Elbaz, Sonia Rykiel and Vivienne Westwood, to name just some of the designers included in the project, to explore the aesthetic possibilities of precision cut crystals and the iconic little black dress.