Before Nadja Swarovski became the face of her family’s crystal empire and adorned Rihanna in jewels, she was a 22-year-old Sotheby’s student, getting harassed one night on a crowded New York subway. At a cocktail reception she hosted in honor of the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles conference last night, Swarovski recalled the episode for the Cut: “These two guys started to harass me: Angel, what are you wearing? Don’t pretend you can’t hear me, I’m right here next to you.” Sound familiar? “I could handle it, but the thing that was so scary is that everyone standing around me turned away. These men in business suits turned their backs.”
After that, she took cabs. “I thought, The taxi money is my insurance money,” she said. “I wore black when I lived here in order not to be noticed on the street.”
Twenty-some years older and now living in London, Swarovski is reclaiming her own experience with sexual harassment to help other women worldwide. Honoring UN Women and the UN Global Compact last night, she presented Atelier Swarovski’s limited-edition bracelet supporting the UN Women Safe Cities Global Initiative. Thirty percent of the bracelet’s sales will benefit policy-making and programs fighting violence against women and girls in 21 cities around the world. United Nations ambassadors, delegates, and fashion designers showed up to support the cause in a ballroom lined with sparkling jewelry displays, including Tanya Taylor and Ryan Roche.