Beautiful, wealthy and talented, designer Coralie Charriol is literally "clawing" her way to the top of the world of premium watches.
"'Kucha' means 'Claws' in Swahili," says Coralie at the launch of the House of Charriol's latest timepiece collection, "Kucha," in Taipei last week.
"Our 'Kucha' line represents a woman's temperament. Sometimes, we can be very feminine and soft like a cat purring. A minute later, we are in a bad mood; scratching like a cat who wants to be left alone."
The Kucha watch collection, Coralie's first timepiece project for the House of Charriol, is meant to be a head-turner just like her, her Taiwanese fans say.
"I'm involved from the beginning to the end of the creative process," says the 28-year-old designer. "Jewelry and handbags are my turf, and Kucha marks my first involvement in Charriol's watch line."
The timepiece itself has a touch of Africa to it. Charriol has chosen white tiger dial, panther dial, and mother-of-pearl dial - in white and pink - with matching bracelets for the collection. Each Kucha item is distinguished by four claws at the corners of the rectangular case. The more premium pieces feature talons adorned with brilliant diamonds.
"I am being inspired by Africa right now," says New York-based Coralie, daughter of Charriol owner and founder, Philippe. "This watch is definitely an 'aggressive' watch. It's a sexy timepiece too."
Coralie, who is also the new face of the House of Charriol, is currently vice president of the 22-year-old lifestyle brand.
"Charriol has been known for producing unique, one-of-a-kind designs. There is no design like our Kucha collection in the market today, for instance," the timepiece's creator says. "At Charriol, we do our own thing."
Independent and aggressive, Coralie is the engine that is driving the brand into the 21st century. A few years ago, she made her mark with her highly successful Coralys line of luxury handbags. This was followed by the success of her jewelry collection, Megeve, a couple of years ago, says the firm.
Coralie has entered the world of premium watches, jewelry, and handbags prepared.
She is a graduate of Tufts University in Boston where she majored in art history and literature, and minored in design, photography, and acting. She also studied at the New York Film Academy, and later, received a certificate in diamond grading from the Gemmology Institute of America in New York. Coralie is fluent in five languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.
She says she had toyed with the idea of joining the film industry but decided to ditch it in favor of her first love, the House of Charriol.
"I have to keep my day job," she laughs. "I like the movie business but the reality is, I love creating products. I get so much satisfaction when people wear (what I have created). It's a huge development process."
The eye-catching designer eventually found herself in front of the camera last year. The project? Charriol's new lifestyle campaign. Shot in a New York City loft featuring Coralie and her friends, the advertising campaign represents the House of Charriol's broadening business: Watches, jewels, bags, and eyewear.
Designing is not Coralie's sole task. She is also taking on a major role in the company's future: To bring a new perspective to Charriol. The fruits of her labor, for example, cater to real women - women with careers, families, and ambitions. She is also leading Swiss-based Charriol's marketing campaign overseas, traveling from country to country to launch the brand's latest product lines. The Charriol brand is now available in key markets in Asia including Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, and China.
"I've been working at Charriol for five years now, and I believe we've still got so much room for growth," says Coralie.
"Our strategy is to open more boutiques and penetrate more locations where people can buy our products. Our boutiques are the ones that connect our customers to the world of Charriol."
Asked what differentiates her design philosophy from that of her father's, Coralie says the fact that she is a woman gives her an insight into what women want. Women make up 80 percent of Charriol's client base.
"I also come from another generation," Coralie says. "I am bringing in fresh ideas of my generation, and I keep the brand young in the process."
In the age of the Internet, information could be had anytime, anywhere, she continues.
"Everything is moving so fast," says Coralie, "and we have to be just as quick."