LA DOLCE VITA

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Watches & Jewels -

The jew­eller Carolina Bucci’s Lon­don home re­flects her flair for be­spoke de­sign. By Lucy Half­head. Pho­tographed by Harry Crow­der.

Over Earl Grey tea and home­made blue­berry muffins at her kitchen ta­ble, the jew­ellery de­signer Carolina Bucci lets me in on a se­cret. “The fam­ily safe was in my child­hood bed­room, hid­den be­hind a paint­ing,” she says. “At night, be­fore go­ing out to din­ner or to the the­atre, my mother would un­roll all the jew­ellery on my bed and let me try things on. I re­mem­ber it like a vivid dream.”

Bucci is kind-eyed and softly spo­ken, wear­ing sher­bet-pink Zara cu­lottes and a chunky knit from The Row that en­velops her slen­der frame. She be­longs to a jew­ellery dy­nasty that dates back to 1885, when her great-grand­fa­ther opened a work­shop in Florence, spe­cial­is­ing in pocket-watch re­pairs. To­day, she is known for fine jew­ellery that is both play­ful and so­phis­ti­cated, and that is still hand­made by ar­ti­sans in the fam­ily ate­lier.

Along with her two si­b­lings, Bucci grew up in Fiesole, a charm­ing town high up in the hills above Florence. “My child­hood was idyl­lic,” she says. “But I wanted to be some­where more mod­ern, with a faster pace of life, more con­crete ... ” At the age of 18, she sur­prised her par­ents by mov­ing to New York (where her mother is from) to study stu­dio arts, fol­lowed by a mas­ter’s in jew­ellery de­sign. “I’d been liv­ing in a bub­ble,” she says. “Go­ing away to New York made me ap­pre­ci­ate the cen­turies of tra­di­tion I would have oth­er­wise taken for granted, and gave me a vi­sion of how to pre­serve them and push them for­ward.”

New York was a game changer for Bucci in more ways than one. She met her hus­band James, an art dealer, and, shortly af­ter­wards, her Lucky bracelets ap­peared on the wrist of Car­rie Brad­shaw, the char­ac­ter played by Sarah Jes­sica Parker in Sex and the City, pro­pel­ling the Carolina Bucci brand to world­wide fame. Wo­ven on a cen­turies-old Floren­tine loom from 18-karat gold and coloured silk thread, they were a lux­ury rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cot­ton friend­ship bracelets Bucci used to make and sell on the beaches of Forte dei Marmi as a child. “You could say my trad­ing started young,” she says, laugh­ing.

Af­ter mov­ing to Lon­don, she opened her flag­ship shop on Mot­comb Street in 2007. “I spent nearly two years look­ing for the per­fect lo­ca­tion,” she says. “I knew that the brand wasn’t tra­di­tional enough to suit Bond Street, but at the same time it wasn’t West­bourne Grove. When Mot­comb Street came up it felt just right.” Her first client was Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. “David kept wear­ing Vic­to­ria’s Lucky bracelets,” she says. “So she wanted me to de­sign a match­ing one for him for their an­niver­sary, with charms of their son’s ini­tials, hearts and, en­graved crosses.” Be­spoke has al­ways been at the heart of Bucci’s brand—and also her wardrobe. Her favourite item of cloth­ing is a khaki Saint Lau­rent jacket that she cus­tomised with swatches of fab­ric, in­clud­ing the merit badges from her old sum­mer camp; and when she in­her­ited her great-aunt’s col­lec­tion of fur coats, she de­cided to have them tai­lored and re­lined with sky-blue silk.

Else­where, her at­tire is un­der­stated and el­e­gant, in or­der to let her jew­ellery do the talk­ing. “Whether I’m meet­ing a buyer, do­ing the school run, or at­tend­ing a din­ner, it’s im­por­tant that my clothes aren’t over­pow­er­ing,” she says. “In­stead, I look for high-qual­ity fab­rics and in­cred­i­ble cuts.” Re­cent dis­cov­er­ies that fit the bill in­clude Palmer// Hard­ing shirts and Frame jeans. “I also love Anna Oc­to­ber, Bot­tega Veneta, Mis­soni, and Miu Miu, and I think Alessan­dro Michele has done an amaz­ing job to re­vi­talise Gucci.”

Bucci lives in a two-storey apart­ment in Bayswa­ter with James and their two sons, 10-year-old Lu­cas, and Julius, who is eight. Com­plet­ing the fam­ily are two gold­fish, Red Alert and Swedish Fish (named af­ter Bucci’s favourite Amer­i­can sweets) and Ar­turo, the 15-year-old minia­ture York­shire ter­rier who came over with the cou­ple from New York. Each one is rep­re­sented by a di­a­mond­stud­ded fig­urine charm, which all hang from a gold chain around her neck. “The chil­dren love the fact that we’re so close to the park,” she says. “And I love the high ceil­ings.” High ceil­ings mean spa­cious walls, per­fect for dis­play­ing the cou­ple’s re­mark­able art col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing colour­ful pieces by Ste­fan Brügge­mann, Alastair Levy, Pe­dro Reyes, and Sal­va­tore Em­blema. Bucci also col­lects glass­ware, and the kitchen cab­i­nets are filled with a joy­ous ar­ray of Se­guso and Bac­carat pieces, along­side stacks of beau­ti­ful flo­ral Gi­nori china. Bolted to the wall above the man­tel­piece in the sit­ting room is an­other show­stop­per—a huge mir­ror that used to be the head­board of her grand­par­ents’ bed in Italy.

Bucci’s lat­est pro­ject is a reimag­in­ing of the iconic Aude­mars Piguet Royal Oak ladies’ watch, re­leased last April in cel­e­bra­tion of its 40th birth­day. Her love for the brand started five years ago in New York when she fol­lowed a woman into Bergdorf Good­man and up five floors to get close enough to iden­tify her watch. It turned out to be a dis­con­tin­ued man’s gold Royal Oak from 1982 that was out of pro­duc­tion, but James tracked one down and gave it to her as a 35th birth­day present. She is justly proud of her con­tri­bu­tion to the male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try: “The usual ap­proach was to just make a man’s watch smaller, stick some di­a­monds on it, or maybe a pink strap, and then a woman should be happy. I’ve de­lib­er­ately moved away from this.” The re­sult is a fit­ting rein­ven­tion that owes its shim­mer­ing sur­face to one of her sig­na­ture gold­smithing styles— the Floren­tine tech­nique.

This spring, Bucci is also launch­ing a sea­sonal sil­ver jew­ellery line, Caro—her child­hood nick­name—which will have the same care­free spirit as her main brand, but will be even more wear­able. “In a way, I’m de­sign­ing for my teenage self, who found fine jew­ellery too tra­di­tional and wanted some­thing fun and rel­e­vant,” she says. “I am rooted in the past, but I al­ways look to the fu­ture.”

Carolina Bucci in her sit­ting room Silk dress, Gi­ambat­tista Valli. Glass and gold neck­laces; and gold rings, all from Carolina Bucci. Rose gold watch (worn through­out), Aude­mars Piguet

A mir­ror made from the head­board of her grand­par­ents’ bed

Bucci with her dog Ar­turo Lamé skirt, Gucci. Glass and gold neck­lace; and silk and gold bracelets, all from Carolina Bucci. Jumper, Bucci’s own.

A Livio De Marchi bal­loon sculp­ture in the hall

Cot­ton jump­suit, Rok­sanda. Glass and gold neck­lace; silk and gold bracelets; and gold rings, all from Carolina Bucci.

Bucci’s per­son­alised Saint Lau­rent jacket

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