A sure sign that the 1980s is back
in full swing
Bvlgari’s new and spectacularly bold high jewellery collection, Wild Pop, is a sure sign that the 1980s is back in full swing. Creative director Lucia Silvestri shows candice chan her interpretation of the decade
what’s not to love about the 1980s? It was a time of excess, extravagance and experimentation. We’ve seen glimpses of its revival on the runways this Autumn/ Winter season: Over-proportioned shoulder pads at Saint Laurent and Balmain; logomania prints at Gucci and Versace; power suiting at Moschino and Gareth Pugh and lots of shiny Studio 54 glamour over at Halpern and Attico. But all this is nothing compared to the glittering tribute Bvlgari makes with its latest Wild Pop collection, a high jewellery extravaganza rife with musical references, pop art motifs and audacious 1980s references.
“The 1980s was the epitome of beauty and creativity. When it came to jewellery, it was when Bvlgari was exceptionally creative. This creativity was also present in other industries such as movies, art, music and fashion. That’s why we decided to celebrate that decade,” explains creative director Lucia Silvestri.
Indeed, the 1980s was a defining moment for Bvlgari: It developed a look that was voluminous, colourful and incredibly stylised, especially with the introduction of the Parentesi emblem and its brand logo as design motifs. Existing collections such as the chunky Tubogas and the Monete pieces became even more popular, coveted by the decade’s tastemakers, who wanted to match their big buoyant hairdos and striking outfits with bold jewellery choices.
But it was not just an era’s charm that spurred the creation of the 80-strong Wild Pop collection; there was also Andy Warhol to thank. The inimitable leading figure in pop art met Nicola Bulgari (grandson of founder Sotirios Bulgari) when he was living in New York City in the 1980s. Both men struck a friendship and Warhol found Bulgari’s designs very vogue. In a quote immortalised by the House, Warhol referred to the Bvlgari store in Rome as “the most important museum of contemporary art”.
That powerful statement remained ingrained in Silvestri’s mind. Inspired by this dialogue between Warhol and the brand, she visited The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York City. “I discovered sketches Andy Warhol made that were inspired by Bvlgari and it was such a great experience,” she shares.
Within the collection, Pop Flowers, Pop Love, Butterflies, Eggs and Sam the Cat sets are examples of direct references to Warhol and pop art. Pop Flowers shows a bracelet of gemset flowers planted repeatedly on 14 mother-ofpearl square panels, while Pop Heart features a magnificent 53.80-ct heart-cut cabochon tanzanite. The Butterflies necklace alludes to
Warhol’s artworks on butterflies and is set in pink gold and adorned with a 10.79-ct peridot, amethyst, rubellite, topaz, citrine, aquamarine, tourmaline and over 30cts of diamonds.
In the bizarre Eggs necklace, named after Warhol’s 1982 silk screen print of the same name, Bvlgari strings together five oversized pebble-shaped stones: Citrine, amethyst, rubellite and two chalcedony, each tied with a pretty diamond bow like a tempting Easter egg. Equally peculiar is Sam the Cat: Adorned with paw prints and kitty faces set in diamonds and chalcedony, it is christened after Warhol’s book of hand-coloured lithographs, 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy.
Other pieces like the Homage to New York City necklace pays tribute to both Warhol as well as Nicola’s time in the Big Apple. A geometric design proposed in rose gold, mother-of-pearl and
diamonds recalls the motif of a crown — specifically, that worn by the Statue of Liberty — used by Warhol in one of his silk screens. In the Supreme Diamond Light bracelet, Manhattan’s impressive skyline is interpreted through the vivid pairing of onyx and white diamonds, while a sparkling marquise-cut diamond serves as the centrestone.
An ardent fan of 1980s pop culture who began her career at Bvlgari in the same decade working directly under the Bvlgari brothers, Silvestri naturally drew inspiration from these years to hit the creative jackpot. Drawing on influences from Dynasty and Miami Vice to Madonna and hot rollers, she conceived a collection that is fun, memorable and most certainly, wild.
A set of pearl jewellery, for example, with alternating Tahitian and South Sea pearls interspersed with diamond-set cone-shaped links, is an ode to Madonna’s infamous cone bras. “I love Madonna,” Silvestri gushes. “It was easy for me to be inspired by her because I love her. She’s my idol.” In another set made with rose gold, emeralds and rubies, motherof-pearl lightning bolts run amok, as a tribute to the late David Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane album cover.
Music inevitably plays an important role in Silvestri’s creative vision. One of the collection’s most complicated designs is a vinyl recordinspired necklace called Play It Again. Hung on a triple-row diamond-set collier are three vinyl records arranged on different levels, each with gem-set tone arms and head shells. That’s not all: Each vinyl is made of a thin slice of onyx hand-carved with lines that mimic the spiral grooves on the actual item. And, to top it off, each one is mobile and can be rotated, complete with a sizeable gemstone set in the middle (the
largest being a 5-ct diamond). “This was really difficult to make and presented an incredible challenge. It took something like seven months for us to finally produce it!” says Silvestri.
Other stunning musical tributes include the Synthesizer and Pop Mics sets. “When you see the Synthesizer jewels, you feel as if you could play them,” she says of the diamond-and-onyx set. Pop Mics, which comprises a necklace, bracelet and brooch, is perfect for the karaoke queen — each has miniature microphones made of specially cut amethysts, peridots, rubellites and aquamarines set on diamonds and onyx.
Staying true to its name, the Wild Pop collection is not without a few brow-raising designs for
some tongue-in-cheek humour. Among them are Happy Leaves, with pieces that feature pavé diamond and emerald marijuana leaves, as well as Curls My Love, a bracelet of diamond-andemerald-set tubular components inspired by none other than hot rollers, the quintessential necessity for ladies in the eighties. Made of gold and titanium, as Silvestri shares, the use of this lightweight metal represents a new chapter for Bvlgari in high jewellery manufacturing. It has been used only in Bvlgari watches until then. “The result is something that is very light and feels very comfortable,” she says.
Finally, no high jewellery is complete without its headliners — two unique and ultra-precious multi-million-dollar necklaces adorned with large and rare sapphires. The first shows off a 55ct cushion-cut sapphire in the most mesmerising shade of blue. The second, a favourite of both Silvestri and CEO Jean Christophe Babin, is named Queen of Pop. Presented in platinum, it is a modern take on the 1980s jewellery silhouette with its structured collier-style diamond-set frame. Composed of diamonds, round and bufftop sapphires and 10 fancy-cut mint tourmalines, the focus here is a 24.82-ct cushion-shaped Sri Lankan sapphire.
“You have to dare,” Silvestri says of the most important lesson she learnt from the Bvlgari brothers. And that she has, gutsily pulling from myriad sources to turn out Wild Pop, a high jewellery collection that hits you unexpectedly with its boundarypushing aesthetic yet remains in essence, quintessentially Bvlgari.
CURLS MY LOVE NECKLACE IN TITANIUM AND WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS; POP MICS NECKLACE IN WHITE GOLD WITH SPECIALLY CUT AMETHYSTS, PERIDOTS, RUBELLITES AND AQUAMARINES, DIAMONDS AND ONYX
FROM TOP: MUSICAL LIGHTNINGS BRACELET IN ROSE GOLD WITH EMERALDS, RUBIES, DIAMONDS AND MOTHER OF PEARL; DAVID BOWIE’S ALADDIN SANE ALBUM COVER
FROM LEFT: HIGH JEWELLERY NECKLACE IN WHITE GOLD WITH PEARLS AND DIAMONDS; MADONNA IN CONCERT WEARING THE ICONIC CONE BRA BY JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
ANDY WARHOL INSPIRED POP HEART NECKLACE IN WHITE GOLD WITH A 53.80-CT HEART-CUT CABOCHON TANZANITE, TANZANITE AND EMERALD BEADS, AND DIAMONDS
FROM LEFT: PRECIOUS RUFFLES NECKLACE IN ROSE GOLD WITH 65.44 CT OF DROP CUT ZAMBIAN EMERALDS, AMETHYSTS, EMERALDS, TURQUOISE, AND DIAMONDS; PLAY IT AGAIN NECKLACE AND BROOCH IN WHITE GOLD WITH ONYX, RUBIES AND DIAMONDS