As Fred opens its first boutique in the UAE, actor Emma Roberts launches its Pretty Woman jewelry campaign with heart and head.
The French have the expression “Il pleut des cordes” to describe a downpour. Meanwhile, Americans would remark, “it’s raining cats and dogs.” It was one such night in Paris for a dinner hosted by actor Emma Roberts and French high jewelry brand Fred in the courtyard of the Michelin starred restaurant Apicius. Under such dreary climes, both the sparkle of jewelry and a high-wattage smile can transform the evening into a bright soiree.
A welcoming demeanor as embodied by Roberts colored the evening, as did the high jewelry necklace of white diamonds and rubellites set as hearts within hearts forming a necklace around her neck. “I felt very glamorous,” remarks Roberts the following day. Petite, the star is dressed in a chic black suit and sitting in a suite at Hôtel de Crillon. Her blonde hair is loose to her shoulders and her red mouth offers a spot-on resemblance to her aunt Julia Roberts. “It was special because I haven’t traveled abroad since before the pandemic. So, to be a new mom, be in Paris, and have a night out surrounded by such great personalities – and I brought my best friend with me as my date – the jewelry was the cherry on top.”
If cheerful, warm, and curious are a few of the qualities Roberts embodies, the star of the Fred Jewelry Pretty Woman campaign and niece of the Pretty Woman of cinema is also a successful actor. Her debut role was as the daughter of Johnny Depp’s character in Blow (2001), when she was nine. Later roles would see her thrive in the satirical horror genre with the likes of Scream 4 (2011) and the TV series Scream Queens, but also romantic comedy with a leading role in Holidate, which came out last year.
For the time being, Roberts is enthused about her role as the face of a high jewelry campaign. “They approached me mentioning they were doing a Pretty Woman collection and obviously Pretty Woman holds a special place for me, as well as being such an iconic movie. I was immediately honored that they asked me – being an American girl to be approached by such a gorgeous, luxury French jewelry brand is, well… It makes the day much better,” she says, laughing in a sing-song voice. “I was just so honored, I said yes, immediately.” Pointing to the campaign posters, Roberts notes that she was seven months pregnant at the time of the shoot, with her now one-year-old son, Rhodes. She wears earrings that dangle with diamonds to drop hearts; a diamond and rubellite ring; and a sautoir necklace with a graphic heart larger than her wide green eyes, fully encrusted with diamonds. There are also delicate pieces that can be layered, and their various gold colors mixed and matched.
While vice president and artistic director Valérie Samuel oversees the jewelry creations today, the house was founded by her grandfather Fred Samuel in 1936, who engraved the words “Creative Modern Jeweller” on his first business cards. Born in Argentina in 1908, Samuel first developed his passion for cultured pearls and later explored colored stones, ultimately being commissioned by the king and queen of Nepal to create jewelry to match the court saris. His quest for color and light remains a pillar of the house. The jewels have seduced Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Hutton, and Princess Grace of Monaco and the maison has collaborated with artists Jean Cocteau and Bernard Buffet. Recently, Fred expanded to the UAE, with a boutique opening in the Dubai Mall.
“The history of Fred is so beautiful and fascinating – it’s a family-owned business. You can feel how organic the brand is,” nods Roberts. “There are these high-end luxurious pieces and these great dainty pieces that are more affordable and that you can wear every day. To have a maison that can do both is unique and it speaks to me. When I’m not on the red carpet having to give back the jewelry to the security guards at midnight, I still want to wear the brand, in my everyday life, as a mom, with jeans.”
Roberts reveals that she feels beautiful when she is settled and carefree. “To me, the prettiest woman in the world is never the most done up and looking for attention; it’s always the one who is comfortable and happy.” When Roberts is à l’aise, don’t be surprised to see a book in her hand. She is exceptionally well-read and even launched an online book club called Belletrist in 2017, which has 265 000 followers on Instagram – Roberts’s own feed has 17 million. “I was homeschooled, and I had to work harder on my own time to catch up with what everyone was doing at school. Often, it was me and a tutor or me and my mom and a pile of books. I made books my best friend because I wouldn’t have gotten through high school otherwise,” she remembers. “I would go out of my way to find books I loved and that kept my morale up. With the job I do, if I have downtime on set, I try to read and not be on my phone. When I was doing American Horror Story: Coven, I read Steven King and became obsessed with that.”
When traveling, Roberts’s first stop when shopping is always a bookstore. In Paris, she is sure to visit WHSmith and Shakespeare and Co., where she purchased W-3: A Memoir by Bette Howland, and she always picks up a tote as a memento. Jewelry souvenirs also hold a special place in her heart. For her mother’s recent birthday, Roberts found a vintage tennis charm from 1916 to gift her. For her own 30th birthday in February this year, her mother gave her a diamond band. “I remember seeing her wear it when I was younger and thinking it was so sparkly,” Roberts recalls. “It was a ring my father gave her when she had me. It was so meaningful and unexpected. I was just taken aback that she thought to do that.” Perhaps 30 years from now, Roberts will gift a member of her family a high jewelry keepsake, one from this trip from Paris marked by this very pretty woman who will decide for herself.
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Originally published in the December 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia