This article is published in number 21 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until May 25, 2022
Some encounters must be made barefoot in the park. Lake Geneva, a May evening with the sun turning the Alps pink. Caroline Scheufele, artistic director of Chopard, is waiting for me at dinner without shoes. “I hope you don’t mind,” she begins as if she has always known me, “I hurt myself in my heels five minutes ago and I can only stay barefoot.”
In his villa that looks like it came out of an AD cover, I should look at the tips of the centuries-old trees that surround the building. Instead I can only concentrate on her red-lacquered nails that scurry, in order, on the pavement of the courtyard, on the marble of the entrance stairs and then on all the floors of the house. «Did you see what beautiful paws?», She continues. I stare at her bare feet. “But what did you understand? Look at these wonderful paws! How can you not fall in love with it? ». Five dogs arrive from the garden, all belonging to the landlady. But the paws in question are those of Byron, the king cavalier who has the honor of sleeping with her and who accompanies her to every edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the review with which Chopard now has a love story rather than a sponsorship. A housekeeper, who later, around one in the morning, I will discover to be a great dancer, with a look that is half of a friend and the other of a marshal, tells us that dinner is ready.
Crimson interior, with Pompeian niches and crystal vases: Caroline’s kitchen is almost an apartment with two cooking zones on the sides and a very long central table. There are seats for about 20 people, I am seated to the right of Caroline. The table is practically a field of peonies dotted with Baccarat crystals. Everything is order and chaos, richness and improvisation. The four courses that will arrive, cooked by starred chef Sylvestre Wahid, who came specially from the South of France, will be interrupted only by the tiramisu of the housekeeper friend / marshal.
But I’ll get to this story later. Caroline sits down, smiles and this time my gaze is fixed on a sun of gold and diamonds that hangs from her neck like the banner of an Aztec deity. «It is one of the 75 creations in the collection Red Carpet that this year Chopard wants to dedicate to cinema and the 75th anniversary of Cannes. Each High Jewelery item will remember a movie: this sun, for example, is inspired by My Africa. Do you like cinema? What a trivial question, excuse me. Who doesn’t like it. But I really like it. She taught me to dream. Here, this is not trivial: dreaming. Because to dream it takes courage. ”Caroline of courage, I must admit, she had a lot of it. You understand this by visiting the Chopard factory, a masterpiece of craftsmanship that produces watches and jewelry.
Purchased by the Scheufele family and transformed into a successful brand, since the 1990s it has found new life thanks to the unconventional creativity of this petite and stubborn woman. «You see that creativity counts, it’s true. But what is important is knowing how to do it. Knowing how to deal with people, with customers. Jewels are creatures, not creations. And mine is not high jewelry, it is high fantasy. I sell dreams and fantasies. This is what they ask me: dreams and fantasies.
And you have to listen, interpret, understand, suggest. He knew how nice it was to listen to customers. And then see them smile. By the way, did I tell you about Liz Taylor’s smile? ‘ On my plate appear two asparagus covered in a lemon emulsion with a shower of black caviar. “Liz Taylor’s smile was pure light. One day, finally, she asked me to join her in her room to show her my jewels. I found her sitting, with her dog wagging its tail and all the coffee tables around her chair. She tells me to get the jewels out. I put them on the tables, she looks at them and then says to me: “Can I show you mine?”. She then she takes them out of the jewelry box and puts them on top of mine. I spent such a wonderful afternoon that in the end I no longer understood what my jewels were and which hers. But, in the end, I managed to sell her some beautiful pieces ». The courses alternate, the cook tells us each dish in detail. Caroline shows me the Palme d’Or created for this edition, a block of rose quartz with a 19-leaf palm stem, two of which are covered with diamonds. «I wanted it pink because it is the color of hope and dreams. I remember that time when the palm fell from Catherine Deneuve’s hands and miraculously did not break.
Since that episode, we tie it with a clasp in the box that contains it during the awards ceremony. Once they stopped it at customs between Switzerland and France. She only came at the last minute. But I didn’t break down, I said I had it, that she would come. In life
you must never panic. ‘ Here comes the dessert: a cornucopia of meringue with a cream that looks like a cloud of candy floss from the rides. “Can I give you some advice? Actually no, she’ll give him two. The first: taste my housekeeper’s tiramisu. I love her. The second: no more words. Would you like to dance? ‘ The music rises, the glasses are filled with a pink liquid that Caroline claims is “the secret of the house, the best way to sell jewelry and to make people dance. In the end they are two things that look alike, right? ».
Around the table, everyone is dancing. And on the notes of Vogue of Madonna and of I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, the housekeeper enters the scene and mimes, with lip sync perfection, all the words, all the moves, all the choreographies of the songs. Guests, service staff, Caroline, the dogs: they all dance, have fun and drink the pink liquid which is then vodka with a particular mix of fruit always created by the housekeeper. It is at that point, around two in the morning, that Caroline disappears. I ask where she is to the housekeeper that she has now given up the role of the marshal to wear only those of her friend. “Surprise,” she replies. A few minutes pass and Caroline disguised as Charlie Chaplin appears through a door hidden in a boiserie. “Life is a whole movie, isn’t it?” She whispers in my ear while she mimes a song by the great actor and director. In the collection Red Carpet there is a rose with petals of white diamonds and a stem of black diamonds, the memory of the one given by Charlie Chaplin, a vagabond to his beloved flower girl in City lights. It is said that Fellini was the greatest narrator of the holidays that end, of that moment of joy and melancholy that we all felt at the end of a special evening. While I hug Caroline, who gives me an appointment at the dinner for the Chopard Trophy in Cannes, I can’t help but think that it would take Fellini to tell an evening finale like this.
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Source: Vanity Fair