When Jean Dujardin announced Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards, a collective cheer arose from Caroline Scheufele’s table at the Elton John AIDS Foundation viewing party. Lawrence’s win marked a milestone for Scheufele: for the 10th consecutive year, her Geneva-based jewelry company, Chopard, had dressed one of the evening’s top winners.
Some say Scheufele has the ‘golden touch’, while others refer to her as a lucky charm. For her part, the 51-year-old insists that luck has nothing to do with it. It is a good, old-fashioned, unadulterated love of film that prompts her to offer up her high-end baubles for stars to wear on the red carpet.
“I don’t predict the Oscar winners, otherwise I’d be doing a different job!”, she laughs over tea at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “But I am a cinema lover. When you have a passion for something, it may be easier to work in that field.”
A true passion for cinema has led Scheufele, who runs her family’s Swiss luxury company along with brother Karl-Friedrich, to create sponsorship opportunities for Chopard at some of the world’s biggest film events. From the Cannes Film Festival to the Weinstein Company’s Golden Globes gala and the most recent EJAF party, Chopard is there.
But, unlike the ease with which she predicts winners or dresses the world’s most fabulous fashionistas, putting together Elton’s annual bash is hard work.
“It’s a big event, and like any other event, it requires a lot of planning. Elton is a person who is mad about details. He checks everything, including the flowers on the table. He doesn’t leave anything as a surprise,” Scheufele confides.
“Timing is of the essence for him. You’re not late when you’re invited to Elton’s party! Everything is by his rules. When your invitation says 8 o’clock, you show up at 8 o’clock. I remember when he gave the Chopard trophy [in 2006], which happened at 8 o’clock. He was there at 5 until 8 and some actress was late and he was getting furious! That’s a challenge for us – working with him – because he’s a maniac about details and about everything being organized. We have to be at the same level as Elton. Obviously you have a lot of celebrities going to Elton’s party every year and that’s also a challenge because we have to handle them too, as well as the guests we invite. We also want to make sure everyone is having a good time.”
Work hard, play hard may not be her motto, but it might as well be. Recalling her very first days working with the Cannes Film Festival, she says wistfully, “We started off with two PRs and three people running around. Today when we go to Cannes, it’s 50 people and a whole big infrastructure. Sometimes I think back to the first days of Cannes, which was very bohemian, but fun, too. Now, everything is planned down to the minute. I wish it were a little more fun. To have the freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it is the greatest luxury.”
Scheufele pauses. “But obviously you cannot wind the watch back,” she states firmly. “Time always moves forward; it never moves backward.”
Though in one case, this may not exactly be true. Chopard moved shop from its Rodeo Drive location to a new home in the South Coast Plaza late last year, but Scheufele believes the brand may move back to Beverly Hills one day.
“The problem was that [in Beverly Hills] we had a very small façade. It was a very big shop, but we weren’t really visible. I passed by two or three times and thought, ‘My God! I passed Chopard!’ In South Coast Plaza, we doubled our space. But if the right location comes up on Rodeo Drive, one with better visibility, we might be back. Rodeo will always be Rodeo.”
But will Oscar always be Oscar? Not if Scheufele has her way. Perhaps the Academy’s little golden man will get a modern-day update, just like the one Chopard has given to Cannes’ Palme d’Or every year since 1998. “I think the Oscar could use a facelift,” she says now, laughing, “But there are 6,000 members of the Academy, so I think it would be a challenge to convince them to redesign that famous statue.”
She adds, “I think the general idea of the Oscar is good, but when I actually held one in my hand – Marion [Cotillard] let me hold hers – I thought it could be more glamorous, more prestigious. It’s an important award. But I’m not going to criticize the Oscars – heaven forbid!”
Caroline Scheufele’s Fact Sheet:
Personal causes: The José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Elton John AIDS Foundation
Signature piece of jewelry: Chopard’s Happy Sport watch
Favorite luxury brands: Dolce&Gabbana, Elie Saab, Ralph Lauren, Hermes
Favorite place: “The sea! On a boat, no telephones, no emails. It’s great when the phones don’t work, you can forget the world.”