MONKEY BUSINESS: Chopard will get an early start on its 150th birthday celebrations with a special performance by Spanish tenor José Carreras and flamenco dancer Sara Baras on the sidelines of the Baselworld trade fair on Saturday night. “I’m not going to dance, don’t worry,” said Carreras, making a surprise appearance at the Chopard stand Wednesday. To mark the milestone, the Swiss luxury watch and jewelry firm has created 150 unique animal-themed pieces, including a necklace depicting rubellite chimpanzees stealing a bunch of mangoes made out of orange red sapphires.
“I really wanted to make them like sculptures,” Chopard co-president and artistic director Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele said of the pieces, which required 20,000 hours of work and involved setting 250,000 stones. “If people want to buy one, they will have to reserve it and get it at the end of November.” She added that a turtle-shaped ring featuring a 11.43-carat pear-cut brown diamond had already been snapped up. Those who can’t afford the real deal will be able to console themselves with a 296-page coffee-table book, “Chopard: The Passion for Excellence,” due to be published by TeNeues in May.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: Bucking the market doldrums, Hublot is exploring new horizons. The Geneva-based brand, which posted record fourth-quarter sales, recently became the official watchmaker of Formula One, and on Wednesday, it unveiled a limited edition watch to benefit the African Wildlife Foundation. Between seven and 10 percent of proceeds from the sale of the 500 numbered Big Bang Out of Africa watches will go to the organization, which develops and funds conservation programs, Hublot chief executive officer Jean-Claude Biver said. The advertising campaign for the timepiece will be fronted by Czech model Veronica Varekova, a goodwill ambassador for the AWF. “My next purpose is really to work on creating this sort of relationship with my future clients,’’ said Varekova, adding she would like to cobrand products with other companies to raise funds for the group. Biver also took the opportunity to screen what he claimed was the first 3-D movie ever produced by a watch brand, which showcased the Unico, the first Hublot movement produced entirely in-house. “It’s only four minutes long, because we told James Cameron: ‘Your “Avatar” is too long,’” he joked.
FIT FOR A QUEEN: The leading lights of Britain’s clothing industry got a royal nod this week when Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to fete the industry. On Tuesday night, the pair greeted 350 guests, including Zandra Rhodes, Betty Jackson, Roland Mouret, Christopher Kane, Mark Fast, David Bailey, Twiggy, Erin O’Connor and Yasmin Le Bon. After shaking hands with each one, the royal couple mingled with the crowd against a backdrop of an exhibition of clothing by designers from London’s Royal College of Art in the palace’s State Rooms. Although she may have been surrounded by some edgy silhouettes, the Queen stuck to her sartorial signatures, wearing a pastel blue-and-yellow floral suit by Angela Kelly Designs and a matching black patent handbag and court shoes. (Kelly is the personal assistant and senior dresser to the Queen.) Rhodes said she was impressed by the palace decor. “The thing about the palace is that all the pictures are real,” said Rhodes. “You’re walking along — and there’s a beautiful Titian!”
O.C. POWER LUNCH: Marie Gray, Kelly Gray and South Coast Plaza’s Henry Segerstrom convened at the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s 15th annual fashion show and luncheon, which featured a spring St. John runway show. The Grays applauded St. John executive vice president of design George Sharp, and more than 400 guests seemed to agree. That may help explain why the company’s new trunk show strategy — unrolled at Nordstrom last month — could be taking hold at other stores nationwide. When Marie Gray was chief designer and Kelly Gray was creative director, both made numerous personal appearances. But lately, the trunk shows consisted of a fashion show and open-call shopping. Now Sharp is presenting the designs on four models, allowing him to elaborate on the finer points of each collection while interacting with customers. “It’s more about including them than just giving them a show,” he said. “The feedback has been incredible. Customers come into stores asking for specific pieces by name that they learned about at the PAs.”
DVF’S FEMME FEST: The Diane von Furstenberg Melrose Avenue boutique marked International Women’s Day Tuesday night with the activist group Vital Voices. Sally Field, a Vital Voices board member for eight years, came to entreat other women to get involved in the group, which provides education and support for female leaders around the world. “How can we be a healthy planet when half of our population is left behind? It’s unacceptable,” she said. “It’s been proven that women are more effective than men when giving back financially to their communities.” Rebecca Lolosoli, the director of an all-female artisan community in Africa, said her goal was to use economic strength and visibility to curb violence and negative cultural practices against women. To cap off the event, MoZella performed a song she recorded for the DVF-produced “Proud to Be Woman” CD (a compilation including songs by Christina Aguilera, Annie Lennox, Estelle and Mary J. Blige), which benefits Vital Voices.