On Wednesday night at The Box — a burlesque club that took a break from its usual erotica for the evening — socialites, producers, actresses, singers and directors celebrated the launch of a new fine jewelry line called Casa Reale, which actually isn't new at all.
The Yushuvayev family, originally from Uzbekistan, has been making couture jewelry for generations. Now four siblings based in New York carry on the family business and launched Casa Reale in 2013 with one of-a-kind pieces for the red carpet, brides and private clients. And while the brand has wooed A-list attention on occasion — it sponsored a premiere of the movie "Lovelace" in 2013, for instance — Casa Reale is still relatively unknown. That's where film producer and now Creative Director Derek Anderson comes in.
"I’m a filmmaker for my day job," said Anderson at the party, as an acrobatic woman in lingerie twirled on a suspended hoop above our heads. With business partner Victor Kubicek, he has produced "Terminator Salvation" and "In God We Trust."
Anderson is familiar with the fine jewelry market because he likes to buy pieces for his mother. He met Joseph Yushuvayev, one of the siblings, through a mutual friend and loved the designs. "And they said, 'I think it's time for us to do a line but we don’t know what we're thinking.' And I said, 'Let's do it!' So I joined forces with them and that's Casa Reale, that's how it started," Anderson explained.
Joseph's sister Alla Yushuvayeva said Casa Reale's new phase is about finding a bigger audience. "Not just private clients anymore, so far it's been mostly couture pieces," she said. She was wearing one of the brand's signature pieces, large drop earrings of 18 karat gold and diamonds called 'Chain Reactions.'
"We are expanding mostly two things — fashion and bridal," said Michael Laviov, who oversees sales for the brand and also said convertible pieces that transform from earrings to bracelets will be a focus, too. Laviov said that some of Casa Reale's best retailers right now are Levinson Jewelers, Valobra and Zadok Jewelers in cities like Miami, Houston and Los Angeles.
A major part of Anderson's expansion plan involves "ambassadors" — influential women from various fields who were there to help build buzz about the brand. "We are in the fortunate position to let this grow organically because our relationships happened organically," said Anderson. "This came together organically in terms of all our friends saying, 'Oh I'll be an ambassador for your brand and Mary J. saying, 'Oh, I'd love to sing for you.'" Financial advisor and ambassador Kimberly Hatchett is friends with Blige and made the introduction. Other ambassadors include Haya Maraka, Beatrix Ost, Lauren Remington-Platt, Skye Peters, Stella Schnabel, Anya Varda, Frederique van der Wal and Arden Wohl.
But before Blige performed, there were two short films. The first featured some of the ambassadors talking about their definitions of beauty. The second was directed by actress-turned-director Rose McGowan for the occasion, starring actress Francesca Eastwood, who was in the audience with mother Frances Fisher. McGowan then performed a song — beautifully, in fact — before Blige took the stage and brought the house down with her greatest hits.
"It's really the beginning," said Anderson at the start of the night. "It's about finding the right women, finding the right stores that understand that we are not interested in doing something cookie cutter, just the same, but something unique. So that's the immediate term goal."
Also an immediate goal? A bit of partying. "Tonight is a celebration," he said.