Montblanc's managing director of jewellery, Susie Otero talks about her designs, why she thinks haute cuisine is overrated, and her favourite luxury items.
The Questionnaire: Susie Otero shares her passions and favourites
Montblanc's managing director of jewellery, the designer Susie Otero was the first female general director at Cartier and has also collaborated with Tom Ford and Boucheron. Since joining Montblanc in 2011, her collections include the Princesse Grace de Monaco. Her own fine-jewellery label, Susie Otero, is based in her home city of Paris.
If you could wake up anywhere else in the world tomorrow, where would it be?
The Taj Mahal in India. The environment, the whiteness of the monument and everything around it is absolutely magical. I would like to wake up there, in the early morning when the sun is rising with nobody around; to feel the calming serenity. It's a place that is just really peaceful.
You're sitting down to the perfect dinner. What are you eating, where are you dining and who is with you?
It would be a romantic dinner with my husband, just us, in a tent in the African savannah. It would be a luxurious tent with carpets and with a big, big bouquet of red roses and nice perfume and light food! Fantastic red wine and nice music, beautiful candlelight - very romantic and in the middle of nowhere.
You originally studied economics and law. How did you enter the world of fine jewellery?
I had originally planned to be a lawyer, but by chance I got a job at Cartier and I loved it. I always loved to draw, to invent, to create, and I'd always loved fashion. What helps me today when creating some collections is that I am able to combine both the rational style of thinking, necessary for law for example, and my creative designer side, which brings a totally different approach. Both help to inform my work.
What excites you about your work?
Every time I see someone wearing one of my pieces. Even if they're employees - I catch my breath; it is such a good feeling.
If you were to invest in one piece of jewellery, watch or accessory, what would it be?
It would have to be two. I can forget to put on anything else, but I cannot go out without a ring or earrings. A ring because the hands are part of how you express when you are speaking, and having a nice ring on is really an extension of a person. Earrings illuminate the face. It's the like the hair, it brings light and something special to the face.
In terms of your wardrobe, do you have a regular go-to designer?
Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni are favourites of mine. I really like Gucci, too, especially for work. I'm also a fan of Alaia; I love their very recognisable dresses; the shape and textures are beautiful. I also buy from Zara. Sometimes I like things that are very fashionable, and maybe they won't last, so I just buy it for the season and then I forget about it. Vanita Rosa is a niche brand, not widely known beyond Paris, St. Tropez and St. Barths. They create beautiful beachwear and delicate summer designs with lovely colours and lace.
Which grooming product or treatment do you swear by?
Caron powder is fantastic. When you are more tanned in summer you can change which one you use. For other makeup I love Estée Lauder, I always use their products - and MAC, all of my lipglosses are from MAC.
What was your first luxury purchase?
I think it was a black bag from Dior. You know when you are young and using your own money, you play it safe so you can use it a lot!
What is your most treasured possession?
A diamond ring I received from my husband. It was my marriage ring, but it came when my son arrived. HMy husband gave me the diamond and told me I had to create a special mounting for it. I knew I had to make something that was timeless but which used my creativity as well. It now has such special meaning and association and that makes it priceless.
Do you have a favourite shop or shopping district?
Around the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris - small streets where you can find nice French brands.
In terms of quality or longevity of use, what has been your smartest purchase?
It's very classic, but I have a Birkin bag. I've had it at least for 10 or 15 years now, but I don't used it very often. It's true that the other fashion items don't last, because you change them so often, but this is a classic
Which of your designs would you describe as the Susie Otero signature piece?
Maybe the Pétales Entrelacés motif gold ring from the Princesse Grace de Monaco Collection. I'm so happy with it, because in a way it seems very simple but when you look closely, you see all of the movement and the way that it is created.
What, in your opinion, is the most overrated luxury?
It's very personal, but I think cuisine that costs a fortune. Ultimately, it's just food and though it can be really exquisite, most of the time it isn't.