Zendaya, Anne Hathaway, Blackpink’s Lisa Attend Bulgari High Jewelry Show in Venice
VENICE — Bulgari unveiled its latest high jewelry collection, called Mediterranea, here, paying tribute to the roots of the company, inspired by founder Sotirio Bulgari’s journey from Greece to Italy.
The collection also reflected “the increasingly inclusive and diverse spirit of the brand,” said Bulgari chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin during an interview at Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel, a hidden gem in Venice, a private building dating back to the 15th century, where the brand set up a showroom to present the collection.
This inclusivity was mirrored by the brand ambassadors who attended the show for press and American clients on Tuesday evening, held at the city’s Palazzo Ducale, and who included ambassadors Lisa of Blackpink, Zendaya, Anne Hathaway, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Crystal Liu, Hikari Mori, Yang Yang and Lashana Lynch.
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Zendaya said she was taking some time off, which allowed her to attend the Bulgari show for the first time. She was thrilled to be wearing a Serpenti necklace with yellow diamonds — “I love them,” she enthused flashing a smile and clearly enjoying the evening. Finally being on a break meant she is not planning to attend the Cannes Film Festival this month.
To be sure, the colors of the Mediterranean sea were all there in the jewelry, from the emerald green to the deep blue of the sapphires — and then more as the brand’s jewelry creative director Lucia Silvestri worked her magic, spinning references from Morocco to Greece and Sicily, in addition to Rome, home of the brand.
While Rome remains central to Bulgari, this time the brand hosted its 2023 event in Venice, as the crossroads of Mediterranean influences, “where the Roman Byzantine Empire fused with the Roman Western Empire to give birth to inclusive and unrivalled arts and architecture,” said Babin. “Venice, as well as Rome, is the symbol of openness to different cultures, bringing together distant universes and inspirations.”
Cross-pollination was a key term used by Babin and Silvestri, as she blended inspirations bridging Eastern and Western cultures, Byzantine and Baroque sumptuousness. “For me, being in the Mediterranean region is an awakening of all senses, it is an inspiring melting pot, where many different cultures and societies have mingled and enriched each other over centuries,” said Silvestri.
The Mediterranean Muse necklace featured gems in a range of blue tones and a magnetic torchon body crafted from platinum and diamonds. While a central 15.13-carat cushion sapphire stood out with its deep blue tone, a dynamic drop layout of aquamarines and diamonds evoked the movement of sea waves.
In the Southern Sapphire platinum necklace, a lace-like intricate layout of shimmering diamonds and transparent sapphires unfolded around an incredible 66.88-carat Ceylon sapphire that also evokes the sea. This piece required 1,650 hours to be completed.
The Roman Esedra sautoir boasted a magnificent 68.88-carat emerald set in a hexagonal pendant. A tribute to an iconic Bulgari piece dating back to the ‘70s, Silvestri harmoniously combined emeralds, amethysts and turquoise.
The Muse of Rome necklace featured a 218.53-carat emerald that Silvestri, supported by two master artisans, created in a unique structure that enhanced the detachable central pendant. She also designed an emerald and South Sea pearl sautoir that added versatility to the jewel, creating a piece that can be worn five different ways.
Silvestri said she was inspired by the Moroccan desert dunes for the Oriental Fantasy necklace, where nine mandarin garnets — counting more than 90 carats — were paired with vibrant citrines for the first time, and a delicate combination of mother-of-pearl and black onyx created geometrical motifs referencing the henna tattoos of Oriental women.
“I love the fire inside the mandarin garnets. Ten years ago nobody wanted them, now they are very precious and rare,” she explained.
Asked about how Bulgari’s high jewelry clients react to the unique blend of colors and gems, Silvestri said “they love the innovation and they really understand it and what we do.”
Babin said the pool of clients is now evenly split between repeat customers from the past 20 years and new ones, often “recruited at the Bulgari Hotels.”
On Monday, Bulgari held an event for 280 clients, including the most loyal ones from Asia and Europe, but also “those that have purchased in the lower price brackets but that have potential. We need a good balance for resilience and progressive growth.”
As for the cluster of clients, Babin said high jewelry “mirrors how the world is split, the West still has a very important weight, with the U.S. as the main market, followed by Europe and the rising Chinese billionaires.” In any case, he underscored, “the gems speak an international language, universally celebrated in all cultures.”
There are customers brought by the watchmaking partners, said Babin, who admitted that this collection presented more high jewelry watches.
“We undervalued the potential of the jewel watches, and on this occasion we already sold all of the Mediterranea watches — and they are one of a kind,” he offered. “High-end watches are outperforming, the appetite has never been so strong for watches and jewelry, and we also sold some bags with precious skins here.”
One example of a secret watch was hidden in the Oriental Buds pink gold necklace, with a 13.34-carat antique cushion emerald from Colombia. Inspired by Byzantine architecture, diamond pavé settings were combined with pink tourmaline, sapphire and emerald beads creating Indian Mughal-like motifs. The piece required 2,300 hours to be completed and the watch was dominated by a 5.65-carat Colombian cushion-cut emerald nested in a pavé-diamond setting.
There were two styles that mirrored the sea with gem-covered starfish, oysters and more — one of which features a detachable seashell and starfish that could be worn as earrings. Another necklace had a large coin pendant decorated with a cameo — rare for Bulgari — under which was a watch.
A fil rouge was the use of turquoise, which harks back to the origins of Bulgari, juxtaposed with emeralds or tourmaline for example.
In the Mediterranean Sapphire Serpenti necklace, nine sapphires from Sri Lanka for a total of 40.81 carats evoking a snake’s scales were set in a platinum and pavé diamond body construction, culminating in a dramatic pendant tassel, including 80 oval-shaped sapphire beads totaling 116 carats.
Mediterranea paid homage to Bulgari’s signature Serpenti, which celebrates its 75th anniversary with new shapes that are more zoomorphic. These were among the bestsellers, said Babin.
Embracing new technologies, Bulgari offered three NFT artworks linked to three jewels and an AI immersive experience in collaboration with digital artist Giuseppe Lo Schiavo. “It’s a different way to tell our story,” said the executive.
On Tuesday, Bulgari staged a show featuring more than 400 one-of-a-kind creations at Palazzo Ducale, or the Doge’s Palace, one of Venice’s most recognizable symbols that in 2008 Bulgari contributed to the preservation of by financing the restoration of the Scala d’Oro.
Carine Roitfeld was in charge of the creative direction of the show and models included Stella Maxwell, Blesnya Minher and Eva Herzigova, who closed the show, wearing shoes by René Caovilla. The designer for the occasion reinterpreted the brand’s storied Cleo sandal, featuring the ankle strap decorated with a snake.
The show was on a precious mosaic runway developed for the event by Orsoni 1888 and inspired by the brand’s high jewelry collection. The soundtrack was conceived by friend of the house Italian orchestra director Beatrice Venezi.
The show was followed by a gala dinner by three-Michelin-star Le Calandre restaurant.
Singer Norah Jones performed a range of her hits, including “Don’t Know Why,” “Come Away With Me” and “Sunrise.”
Launch Gallery: Bulgari Mediterranea High Jewelry Event in Venice
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