PRECIOUS CARGO Who says a bag can’t be every bit as ornamental as a diamond necklace? Certainly not Bulgari. By Clare Maclean.
“Our bags are not so well-known, because we only sell them in our jewellery stores,” says Mireia Lopez Montoya, the managing director of Bulgari’s accessories business unit. “A Bulgari bag has to be discovered.” She gestures towards the Autumn/Winter 15 collection, which is today being showcased on marble plinths in the buzzy bar area of Milan’s Bulgari Hotel. In a world where the majority of luxury goods are ready and waiting to be snapped up online 24 hours a day, there is something rather delicious about a brand playing hard to get. Of course, the bags that stand before me may very well be harder to acquire than most, but they’re certainly not hard to miss.
This season, the Italian house has looked to its high-jewellery roots and history of celebrating coloured gemstones for inspiration, which translated to generous lashings of ocean turquoise, denim sapphire, violet amethyst, tiger’s eye and ruby wine hues. But as Montoya points out as she picks up a Serpenti Forever flap bag in red galuchat (stingray skin), the theme far from ends at coloured leather. “This one has been treated to make it pavé – the diamond effect makes it very, very special,” she says, moving the bag gently from side to side to show off the glittering scales.
And as always, references to Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti, a constant presence in the brand’s jewellery and timepieces, play an integral part. Perhaps the most eye-catchingeye catching IN
T HE M N A example in the collection is the metal handle on the Serpentie Scagliee bag, which O K
I C N mimics the body of Bulgari’s reptile mascot. I G “Each one actually starts off as a flat petal and then it’s hammered ed to close like a flower," says Montoya. "Then, one by one, each flower is hand-inserted nd-inserted into the other until it’s long enough to become a handle.” The effect ct is a bag that’s almost a jewellery piece in itself.
Are they created in the same place as the brand’s high jewellery? “TheThe bags are made in Florence, which is the best place to make leathergoods ds in the world, and our jewels are made in Rome,” says Montoya, “but ut we learn from the jewellery craftsmanship. Our artisans go and visitsit the workship in Rome to observe because we try to make our bags in line with the craftsmanship of our jewellery.”
There are also other, more subtle nods to Serpenti in the pieces,s, such as the graphic laser-cut scales on the Serpenti Forever flap bagg that reveal a metallic layer of ayer [water snake] skin underneath a smooth leather topcoat, creating a three-dimensional effect.
This year also marks a special anniversary in the Bulgari universe, with the brand’s circular “Bulgari-Bulgari” emblem celebrating the big 4-0. The creative team has paid tribute with a new signature style. “This is our logo bag, which is here to stay," says Montoya.
Today, she is the bag's best advertisement. Has she developed oped a favourite? "Sapphire," she says swiftly. A woman after our own heart. rt. The pieces are hammered into shape and joined by hand Blogger Stacie Chen carrying a Serpenti Forever bag in Paris
Pairing sporty luxe and vivid reds at Milan Fashion Week
Model and blogger Ella Catliff at Paris Fashion Week
Bulgari's Mireia Lopez Montoya
Serpenti Scaglie bag, Bulgari
Serpenti Forever bag, Bulgari