"Opposites attract" - Ute Schumacher, Vice President Trend & Design Swarovski Elements, tells us more about the work of a trend researcher at Swarovski and why shining crystals perfectly go with finest cashmere. 

How do you become a trend consultant at Swarovski?

The team of trend consultants at Swarovski Professional comes from a variety of different design and academic backgrounds, including fashion, jewelry, publishing and socio-economic disciplines. To be a trend consultant you need extensive knowledge and understanding of different segments, whether it’s art, design, textiles or interiors, and the ability to research on many different levels. To me, it’s very important to have an international team with a variety of different skill bases. The trend team at Swarovski Professional also needs the additional skill of understanding crystal, how it performs, and how its light-reflective qualities are used in designs across all segments.

What does the typical working day of a Swarovski trend consultant look like?

I can speak here for my trend team: there is really no such thing as a typical day for a trend consultant. However, one thing is constant: the research. Whether it’s traveling to trade fairs, fashion shows, giving customer presentations, consulting with companies, or briefing in new cuts, colors and designs, everything is based on extensive research. During their research, our trend consultants examine demographics, economics, socio-politics and consumer behavior, as well as cross-collaborating with other international trend agencies. They map and track the prevailing mega- and counter-trends, then break them down into directions that are relevant to crystal. Their focus is on identifying which surfaces and looks will be influencing the coming season’s designs, and how to keep coming up with something new and exciting season after season! Trend research is always the starting point in determining our crystal directions – the shapes, cuts and colors of the future.

What is your personal style?

I mix my style depending on how I feel or what I’m doing on that particular day. I wear everything from sports-inspired styles, glamorous or elegant evening and business mixes, through to bohemian chic. I always add a personal twist to my outfits to reflect how I feel.

What are your ‘must haves’ for the coming winter season?

This latest must-haves echo the season’s main trend, ‘Opposites Attract’, which refers to the often-surprising coexistence of things that appear to be polar opposites. For example, individualism is the norm today, yet the global recession has created a renewed sense of community. This defined our design aesthetic across Swarovski’s four categories (Romantic, Progressive, Classic and Glamour), with new colors and crystals that are ‘complementary opposites’: ‘Urban Nomad’ (Romantic) depicts rural eccentricity combined with urban cool, summed up in the strong Crystal Blackberry Pearl effect and the subtle golden coating of Crystal Lilac Shadow effect, in new shapes such as the asymmetrical cut of Sweet Heart Fancy Stone and the heart-shaped leaves of Clover Pendant. ‘Nature Lab’ (Progressive) combines spring shades of green, typified by the new Dark Moss color, with concrete-inspired grays, and features the tech-meets-nature shape of the spiky new Dome Bead. The pared-back shapes and refined detailing of ‘Extravagant Simplicity’ (Classic) signal masculine fashion-forwardness and sporty femininity, with men embracing ‘feminine’ colors such as nude, blush and rose-gold, and crystal innovations such as Solaris Fancy Stone and Urban Pendant. ‘Demure Decadence’ (Glamour) marries the lavishness and vibrant pinks of the East with the burgundy, wine, and berry tones of the West in new crystals such as the opulent Trilliant Fancy Stone, perfect for both modern geometric and vintage looks.

What do you think of the mix of finest cashmere with sparking crystals?

Crystal is incredibly versatile, and this allows for unusual and creative combinations with a great many different, sometimes unconventional, materials. Cashmere provides a silky-soft, luxurious base for embellishment with contrasting crystals, allowing a whole range of looks from glamorous to edgy. A perfect marriage of two premium quality materials.

What does your perfect beanie look like?

I have a variety of different styles in different shapes, but my personal must-have? It must always have crystal on it, of course!