It was a suitably dazzling January day—blue sky, bright sun, fresh snow melting into glittering droplets—and Nadja was back in Wattens for board meetings. Running late, she burst into the VIP Lounge of the Kristallwelten, the company museum, fiddling with a (nonbedazzled) iPhone. Her hair was perfectly blown out, and she was wearing a black power suit. For her, country is town, and town is country. Her skin showed a trace of a suntan from the Christmas holidays, which she spent with her family in Vero Beach, Florida, where her parents have a house. (Other vacations have found her hunting antelope in Wyoming and riding horseback across the plains of Botswana.) I had just finished a tour of the company’s corporate headquarters, where even the man and woman stick figures on the bathroom doors are rendered in rhinestones. I learned that Wattens has 10,000 inhabitants, and Swarovski has 5,000 employees there; that the Swarovski Crystal Society, a collector’s club, has 325,000 members (Italians, apparently, are especially keen); that J. Lo carried a Swarovski clutch at the Golden Globes this year; and that Swarovski creates the tiaras that crown the heads of the debutantes at each year’s Vienna Opera Ball.
Nadja began to talk about her work-life-balance philosophy. “In New York, I had too many colleagues who gave up on marriage and motherhood,” she said. “They’re now in their 40s, husbandless, childless, and lonely.” The comment was not mean-spirited but was typically Swarovskian, echoing the company motto, ja zu allem (Yes to all), which is emblazoned on a sign outside the museum. It reflected the two palpable strands of Nadja’s personality: a chatty accessibility—she hires a massage therapist for her employees in London and stages office tennis tournaments on a Wii, because “strength-building is so important”—coupled with unapologetic ambition. No detail escaped her attention as we walked through the museum, for which a renovation is planned. “There’s a little bit of room for improvement, we say with our lips shut,” Nadja whispered, as she eyed a slightly cluttered display in the gift shop. We reached a cavernous dining room and sat down for a lunch of lentil soup and spaetzle. “It’s kind of a shame there aren’t any windows in here, because we’ve got the most incredible view outside,” Nadja said. “So next time: the restaurant with a view.”
The following day, Nadja was back in London, where she is the chatelaine of a 2,500-square-foot apartment just off Sloane Square. The space is stylish but unprecious—a blossomlike Tord Boontje chandelier (a Crystal Palace number) and a shiny geometric coffee table by Arik Levy coexist with pegs bearing children’s raincoats and shelves full of battered paperbacks by the likes of Tom Clancy and Jack Welch. Refreshingly, Nadja doesn’t feign a tremendous amount of interest in the domestic arts. A good number of the photographs that she has displayed in silver frames are blowups of shots of herself on the red carpet. Nadja’s Anglophilic side is represented by a print of a crown accompanied by the words mummy rocks. Still, she confided, she could envision moving to America in the next few years. “I’ve lived everywhere,” she said. “So, for me, the world is really my playground.”