You likely know Giovanna Engelbert as a street style icon and longtime fashion editor for W, Vogue Japan, and L’Uomo Vogue—but there’s more to the editor-turned-influencer than meets the eye. Engelbert’s recently taken on the title of global creative director at Swarovski, launching her first collection this spring (most of which instantly sold out!). The Italian tastemaker has kept busy over the past year designing jewelry, posting maximalist outfit pics, and launching Swarovski Instant Wonder boutiques all around the world—including the newest outpost in Soho, now open at 542 Broadway! We spoke with her about her career beginnings, switching from magazines to designing, and what’s next.
How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
I’m born and raised in fashion, breathing it in since a very early age. Fashion is the heartbeat of Milan—it has inspired me so much and it still does. My parents both worked in the arts—fashion was not that important for them, but creativity [always was]. And I guess that’s where it all came together.
You’re now Swarovski’s first-ever global creative director. How did you begin working with the brand?
I have been working with Swarovski since 2016, heading up the creative of the B2B business. It was a great honor to be named as creative director last year–my new role is a natural evolution and now covers all creative aspects of Swarovski as a whole. So, I guess and hope I’ve done a good job since then! My aim is to give crystal a new, cooler, and smarter dimension—and that aim proved to be the perfect match with what Swarovski is looking for.
What was the transition from editing to design been like for you?
Looking back, all my experience is covered under the roof of one discipline: creativity—in different facets. My work as a consultant has given me the opportunity to keep up with show business, with actors and singers, and with the fashion industry. I can take all my knowledge from the past 20 years and put it into one place for Swarovski which is also a cross- and multi-disciplinary company.
So many of the pieces in your Collection One are so colorful and fantastical! What’s the inspiration?
I wanted to explore the pure beauty of crystal and how its magnificence is rooted in fundamental geometrical and logical structures. Looking at Daniel Swarovski’s first drawings was an absolute inspiration; discovering the magic of his early inventions and understanding the power of his dream drives me and is the path we will follow to bring Swarovski forward into the future. My intention is to create collections [and] pieces that are bold, but can be worn in an effortless way. And yes, color also plays a very important role in Collection One, and I took inspiration from old images of Isaac Newton’s work exploring the color spectrum. I did a study of different color wheels—from the Renaissance to nowadays, as color is very important to Swarovski’s origin and route to today.
Most of Collection One fully sold out after its launch! What has the reception been like for you so far?
I can’t even find words—I’m just humbled and unbelievable happy!
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Let’s talk fashion! You’re renowned for your bold personal style. What have you been wearing during quarantine?
Let’s be honest, it’s not likely that you are dressed up every day in your home, so cashmere sweaters and jeans might be the first choice at the moment when putting on your clothes. Hence, the importance of jewelry is even higher these days!
What can you tell us about your next Swarovski collection? We’re dying to know!
It’s too early to speak about it, I’m afraid. But I can tell you that we will be shooting the new product campaign next week. So believe me, there’s a lot to come very soon!
What’s in the future for you?
I hope excitement, fun, and health.