It’s raining in New York and Mariah Carey is in the bathtub.
“The weather is stormy today,” the troubadour said at the start of a phone interview about a new collaboration with luxury jeweler Chopard. Because the subject of this magazine is diamonds, it’s an obvious question to ask if she’s wearing any at this particular time because while she’s drenched in water, this is Mariah Carey. . Answer: Of course, honey.
“I’m wearing a diamond bracelet and another necklace my daughter Monroe made for me,” she said of her 11-year-old pink and lavender beaded work with Nick Cannon. “It says Lambily – that’s for lambs. We layered with all sorts of different things. ”
There are many floors for conversation afterwards. Carey’s Chopard collaboration – Happy Butterfly x Mariah Carey Collection – comes out September 16, a date that marks the 25th anniversary of her career-switching 1997 album Butterfly. The heavy diamond collection features iconic insects on everything from necklaces and bracelets to rings and earrings, and it’s all Carey’s idea.
In plot detail, Carey opens up about the creative renaissance she entered with the album after her divorce from former Sony boss Tommy Mottola (and running away from their shared mansion she calls “Sing”) -Sing”), why she contacted Chopard president Caroline Scheufele to suggest they work together, and when she first discovered her love for diamonds (thanks to Marilyn Monroe).
It’s so special to be talking to you at this time as we celebrate our 25th anniversary Butterfly because that logo has really been an iconic part of your career ever since. What does this symbol mean to you today, and how has its meaning changed over the years?
I’ve never been someone who’s been fond of butterflies since childhood, it just doesn’t seem like it’s really me. I don’t know how many people will know what I’m referencing but when I left “Sing-Sing,” aka the mansion I had in Bedford that I paid for half myself, when I walked out , I wrote the article “Butterfly” – spread your wings and prepare to fly part. In my mind, at that point, it would have been a David Morales moment that was sublime, like a remix. I’m just trying to get out of there. There were certain things that happened and I won’t go into it too long but I will say that when I left I saw a butterfly. From there, you can see butterflies everywhere.
It stayed with me and it wasn’t a one-time thing because I wrote a song and an album called Butterfly. For me, it really represents freedom and also liberation. I know it’s a different era, another album, but there are different interpretations of the butterfly symbol. It’s all about getting over something and coming out to the other side more freely, which is what it really stands for for me.
I read that you offered to work with Caroline Scheufele at Chopard. I know they’ve been nice to you over the years but what prompted you to reach out and say, “We should do something together.”
OK, naturally Christmas doesn’t end on December 25th for me. So it’s like a month after Christmas and I’m still there with my tree and everything. It’s been a long time since people opened all their gifts. I let people open theirs first because I have more fun giving than receiving. I was in the living room looking at the tree and I realized there was still a package on the table. It was from Chopard and Caroline sent me a beautiful silk scarf and a letter. This is great, I think, because “All I want for Christmas is you” has become a diamond and I’m thinking about doing some kind of partnership.
I put out my hand because I have a feeling and because she wrote me this beautiful letter and sent this beautiful gift. We started talking and she was actually sketching the butterfly necklace, the main part, when we were talking about the whole concept of working together. I’m still skeptical about it because it’s a dream come true. It is a wonderful association to be able to say that I am collaborating with Chopard on this collection. I don’t even know how to explain it. I have no idea. I’m just getting ready to share the Happy Butterfly Collection with everyone.
I love it. Going back to the sketches, I know you really got hands on and you have a great eye for craft and design. What is the cooperation process like?
Because of [the time] when we started talking, I thought maybe it would be a snowflake or something related to Christmas. But Caroline and Daphne, who work closely with her, love the butterfly concept. I totally agree and it was a coincidence to choose Happy Butterfly for me because we are celebrating our 25th day Butterfly album is in existence.
I know that you have worn Chopard many times over the years and I have read Harper’s Bazaar that you told Chopard to be generous to you at a time when many others were not. What did that mean to you at the time?
It was at a certain time when they gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry; actually, it’s a watch and you know, I don’t acknowledge the time but it’s pink and I keep it – it’s sweet. They are very special in that way and ethical practices are really important to them, ethical use of gold and gems. I’ve always felt that they’re a great company more than, you know, the greatest diamond company on the mainland. So when this collaboration started, it really felt like a Cinderella moment.
One of the photos I came across was of a time when you wore 121 carats of Chopard diamonds to an event in Cannes. Is that the most diamonds you’ve ever worn at once?
Likely. That’s more than I can put at the moment. I could go into my case and try but that’s the main thing. I remember having a hard time taking them off that night.
When we started talking, you sang a little Marilyn Monroe song to me, someone I know is very important to you. It makes me think of her signing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentleman likes blond hair. Do you remember when you first fell in love with diamonds?
I wrote about this in the book, when I was a 6 year old girl, they were celebrating Marilyn’s life because she had passed away many years earlier. My mom watched it on TV with her boyfriend and they showed the number, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” I watched it and it really had an impact on me because they were also talking about her difficult childhood. There, however, I had a difficult childhood myself, watching this show about someone who became a major figure in the whole world, singing about diamonds and greatness.
So it was a very aspirational moment. [In the beginning of my career], I chose to wear very little jewelry early on because I didn’t want to buy things for myself. Then I met this incredible woman, who will remain anonymous for this article and she is known for wearing a lot of diamonds. She used to have an incredible Oscar party every year and if anyone guesses they are a genius. Anyway, for some reason, she liked me and she invited me even though I never won an Oscar. Whitney [Houston] and I sang an Oscar winning song but because they didn’t ask me to write it we technically didn’t win it but either way, we loved it. So, you know, this woman said, “Honey, I think you should buy yourself more diamonds. What are you doing?” So I started getting more involved in it.
Now we have this [collection] that I will have forever. And it was all like a dream. I don’t know if I should say this but of course I can because it’s a quote from one of my songs called “Emotions”. I would say that all of this makes me emotional.
The edited interview is long and clear.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter September 16th issue. Click here to subscribe.