A LOVE AF­FAIR

BVLGARI’S NEW RET­RO­SPEC­TIVE AT THE MOSCOW KREM­LIN MU­SE­UMS TRACES THE RO­MAN JEW­ELLER’S EVO­LU­TION OVER THE COURSE OF A CEN­TURY, AS WELL AS THE EVOLV­ING TASTES OF WOMEN. FRANÇOIS OOSTHUIZEN AT­TENDS THE OPEN­ING OF TRIB­UTE TO FEM­I­NIN­ITY

Prestige Hong Kong - - JEWELLERY -

El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’s jew­ellery col­lec­tion was renowned as one of the great­est ever as­sem­bled. The ac­tress was a pas­sion­ate pa­tron of Bul­gari – a re­la­tion­ship that deep­ened when she set­tled in Rome in the early 1960s to film Cleopa­tra. Le­gend has it that she and Richard Bur­ton – both mar­ried at the time – fell in­stantly in love while film­ing their first scene to­gether, and sealed their af­fair with mag­nif­i­cent Bul­gari jew­els. News of their re­la­tion­ship spread like wild­fire, and Bul­gari’s Via Con­dotti store in Rome even be­came one of the cou­ple’s favourite hide­outs from the pa­parazzi. Dur­ing their tur­bu­lent and much-pub­li­cised re­la­tion­ship, Bur­ton took ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to shower Tay­lor with fab­u­lous Bul­gari jew­els – such as a spec­tac­u­lar neck­lace with 17 Colom­bian emer­alds, pre­sented to the ac­tress as a wed­ding gift in 1964. In 2011, five decades af­ter the cou­ple first met, Tay­lor’s pri­vate col­lec­tion fetched auc­tion records at Christie’s. At this sale and from other pri­vate trans­ac­tions, Bul­gari ac­quired nine pieces that once be­longed to her, which are now in the brand’s Her­itage Col­lec­tion and on dis­play in the Trib­ute to Fem­i­nin­ity ex­hi­bi­tion. For Lu­cia Boscaini, brand and her­itage cu­ra­tor at Bul­gari, one of the most sig­nif­i­cant pieces among these is a sautoir fea­tur­ing an oc­tag­o­nal pen­dant with a mag­nif­i­cent 65-carat sug­ar­loaf sap­phire,

cho­sen by the ac­tress in 1972 to mark her 40th birth­day, and be­cause the in­tense blue of the gem­stone re­minded Bur­ton of the colour of her eyes. “It’s prob­a­bly one of the finest sap­phires in the world,” Boscaini says. “De­spite that and its prove­nance – the fact that it pre­vi­ously be­longed to El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor – it’s also very em­blem­atic of Bul­gari’s style; the qual­ity of the gem­stone, the set­ting, the crafts­man­ship and also the ‘en­gi­neer­ing’. The gem­stone was mounted in an el­e­vated man­ner to al­low light through when it’s worn. There are also a num­ber of de­tails that demon­strate Bul­gari’s mas­tery … this is re­ally one of the most dis­tinc­tive jew­els we have in our col­lec­tion.” Boscaini also sin­gles out Tay­lor’s en­gage­ment ring from Richard Bur­ton. “She loved it very much and wore it ev­ery day – even af­ter they di­vorced. In 2001, to raise funds for Aids char­i­ties, she de­cided to sell this rather than one of her other hun­dreds of jew­els, be­cause she re­ally wanted to give a sign of her per­sonal in­volve­ment in the cause. “We bought back both the ring and the sell­ing cer­tifi­cate, signed by her and with a note that reads, ‘Wear it with love.’ For me, this is ex­tremely mean­ing­ful be­cause it shows her depth as a woman. She was very pas­sion­ate, with val­ues and strong be­liefs.” Boscaini spent sev­eral years cu­rat­ing Trib­ute to Fem­i­nin­ity. “It has been a long am­bi­tion of ours to put our Bul­gari her­itage on dis­play at the Moscow Krem­lin Mu­se­ums,” she says, “as it’s one of the most cred­i­ble mu­se­ums in the world for jew­ellery. They have a beau­ti­ful per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion and, more than that, they have a very deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for and ex­per­tise in jew­ellery.” With 511 items on dis­play, span­ning from the late 19th cen­tury un­til the 1990s, it may not be the big­gest her­itage ex­hi­bi­tion Bul­gari has ever hosted but, as Boscaini ex­plains, it’s cer­tainly very sig­nif­i­cant. “In terms of con­tent, it’s very im­por­tant. For this kind of ex­hi­bi­tion, it’s not only the jew­els that are of im­por­tance for vis­i­tors, but also the sto­ries and the im­ages re­lated to them.” Some 85 per­cent of the pieces are from Bul­gari’s Her­itage Col­lec­tion, with the re­main­der from pri­vate col­lec­tors. Ac­cord­ing to Boscaini, Bul­gari has in­creased its buy­back ac­tiv­i­ties in re­cent years. “For Bul­gari, her­itage is a mat­ter of iden­tity. The more we pro­tect our her­itage and what’s unique about it, the more we’re able to con­vey this iden­tity. Our ar­chive is full of sketches and doc­u­ments, of course, but the jew­els are at the core. If you only look at a piece of jew­ellery in a pic­ture, you miss a lot of the de­tails that can only be ap­pre­ci­ated on the ac­tual piece. But we’re not buy­ing back ev­ery jewel Bul­gari has ever pro­duced, just the right pieces that demon­strate the evo­lu­tion of our style and crafts­man­ship.”

“THE MORE WE PRO­TECT OUR HER­ITAGE, THE MORE WE’RE ABLE TO CON­VEY OUR IDEN­TITY” — LU­CIA BOSCAINI, CU­RA­TOR

Sev­eral ex­hibits have never be­fore been on pub­lic dis­play, such as a daz­zling tiara with blue aqua­ma­rine, worn by the Ital­ian princess Olimpia Tor­lonia on her wed­ding day. “The tiara now be­longs to a fam­ily in Rome who have links to many royal fam­i­lies. It wasn’t orig­i­nally made by Bul­gari, but re­mod­elled by us at the owner’s re­quest to make it more wear­able. The aqua­ma­rine, for ex­am­ple, can now be re­moved,” Boscaini ex­plains. Trib­ute to Fem­i­nin­ity traces the close as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween Bul­gari’s creative out­put and the de­mands and evolv­ing tastes of women, chang­ing in par­al­lel with fe­male eman­ci­pa­tion. Along­side the cul­tural and so­cial changes in women’s his­tory, the cre­ations on dis­play cel­e­brate the charisma of women who made their own rules and chose Bul­gari jew­els as an em­bod­i­ment of their per­son­al­ity for both for­mal and in­for­mal oc­ca­sions. The stun­ning jew­ellery an­thol­ogy ex­plores and high­lights many hall­marks in Bul­gari’s sto­ried his­tory, un­fold­ing through an im­mer­sive nar­ra­tive that’s com­ple­mented by pho­tographs and other vis­ual aids. But it’s the jew­els – once owned and worn by film stars, aris­to­crats, prom­i­nent so­cialites and busi­ness­women – that are the real stars of the show. These spec­tac­u­lar pieces are vivid me­men­toes of the styles and trends of the eras in which they were cre­ated, whether it was the roar­ing 1920s, the dolce vita pe­riod of the 1960s, or the pop-art 1980s – the lat­ter demon­strat­ing Bul­gari’s fun-lov­ing and non-con­form­ist spirit. Other im­pres­sive pieces come from the col­lec­tions of the ac­tresses Anna Mag­nani, Gina Lol­lo­b­rigida and Anita Ek­berg, aris­to­crats such as the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Baroness Car­men Thyssen-Borne­misza, and so­cialites like Bar­bara Si­na­tra and Lyn Revson. One sec­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion show­cases the icons of Bul­gari’s cre­ativ­ity as well as pi­o­neer­ing mo­tifs and tech­niques that sub­verted the tra­di­tional ap­proach to jew­ellery, of which the Par­entesi jew­els – Bul­gari’s first mod­u­lar col­lec­tion – are a shin­ing ex­am­ple. Nor would any Bul­gari her­itage ex­hi­bi­tion be com­plete with­out a trib­ute to all the em­blems of the house’s Ro­man roots, from pieces fea­tur­ing an­cient coins that con­vey the brand’s rev­er­ence for the past, to many ex­tra­or­di­nary vari­a­tions of the sin­u­ous Ser­penti (span­ning more than four decades). The golden thread that runs through all the cre­ations, ac­cord­ing to Bul­gari’s Creative Di­rec­tor for Jew­ellery, Lu­cia Sil­vestri, is cre­ativ­ity and qual­ity. “For me, ev­ery decade rep­re­sented some­thing new, but it was still Bul­gari. That’s my chal­lenge, too … to en­sure that our de­signs con­tinue to evolve, while re­main­ing un­mis­tak­ably Bul­gari. Mr [Paulo] Bul­gari al­ways says, ‘One eye to the past, and one eye to the fu­ture.’”

Trib­ute to Fem­i­nin­ity runs un­til Jan­uary 13, 2019 at the Moscow Krem­lin Mu­se­ums

ABOVE: NECK­LACE IN GOLD WITH EMER­ALDS, AMETHYSTS, TURQUOISE AND DI­A­MONDS, 1965, FOR­MERLY IN THE COL­LEC­TION OF LYN REVSON RIGHT: ITAL­IAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHER STE­FANO GALUZZI CAP­TURES THE TIME­LESS AL­LURE OF BVLGARI JEW­ELLERY

OP­PO­SITE: A SE­LEC­TION OF PIECES FROM THE BVLGARI HER­ITAGE COL­LEC­TION, IN­CLUD­ING SEV­ERAL ONCE OWNED BY EL­IZ­A­BETH TAY­LOR RIGHT: AC­TRESS JES­SICA CHAS­TAIN WEARS ONE OF TAY­LOR’S NECK­LACES

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: BROOCH IN PLAT­INUM WITH RUBIES AND DI­A­MONDS, 1955, FOR­MERLY IN THE COL­LEC­TION OF ANNA MAG­NANI; NECK­LACE WITH AMETHYSTS, DI­A­MONDS AND GREEN ENAMEL, 1971; TIARA IN PLAT­INUM WITH AQUA­MA­RINE AND DI­A­MONDS, 1935

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