Bulgari takes a walk on the wild side in the Big Apple with a new jewellery collection that channels the hedonistic vibes of the 1980s, as Naphalai Areesorn discovers
Naphalai Areesorn visits Singapore to view Bulgari’s Wild Pop high jewellery collection, which looks to channel the pleasure-seeking vibes of New York in the hedonistic 1980s
Fancy marijuana leaves around your neck? Well, when it is part of Bulgari’s high jewellery collection, then certainly. The luxury jewellery company is a quintessentially Italian brand, taking its inspiration from Rome and the country of its birth—the history, culture, colours and passion for life. But in the recently released Wild Pop collection, it moves from the Mediterranean across the Atlantic to New York. Specifically the Big Apple in the 1980s with its electric lifestyle influenced by disco music and pop art.
Nicola Bulgari visited New York and fell in love with the city, taking up residence there. Drawn to its creative community and big personalities, he developed a close relationship with Andy Warhol. Theirs were two like minds: bold, daring and ready to push the boundaries. The admiration was mutual. Warhol was taken by the work of the maison and told Bulgari, “When I am in Rome, I always visit Bulgari because it’s the most important museum of contemporary art.” He added, “I think your jewellery is the 80s.”
During a visit to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York, Bulgari creative director Lucia Silvestri was reminded of this friendship between Nicola Bulgari and Andy Warhol. She also remembered an important lesson learned while working with the Bulgari brothers, Nicola and Paolo: “You have to dare”. And so was born the Wild Pop collection, showcasing the extravagant 80s appetite for voglio tutto e voglio subito—wanting it all and wanting it now—the epitomy of the brand’s rulebreaking approach to jewellery.
According to Mauro di Roberto, head of Bulgari’s jewellery division, the 80s was a period of disruption. “Pop art heralded in new and unique designs and materials being used,” he explains. It was also a time of experimentation and free spiritedness. An economics and business management graduate, di Roberto joined Bulgari in New York in 1979 and was a part of the changes that rocked fashion, culture, technology and innovation at this time.
Colour is a hallmark of Bulgari and in the Wild Pop collection, it is not only the themes that are wild, but also the kaleidoscopic shades. The Precious Ruffles necklace was inspired by the Dynasty character Alexis Carrington and is highlighted with exquisite Colombian emeralds against hues of green, blue, purple and white. Music was a big part of the 1980s with megastars like Madonna, Prince, David Bowie and Michael Jackson to the fore. Silvestri created a playful set of microphone necklace, bracelet and brooch bursting with colours.
The collection also picks up on the details of the Big Apple. The geometric design of the Homage to New York City necklace resembles the crown worn by the Statue of Liberty. In the Supreme Diamond Light set of bracelet, earrings and ring, the design evokes the majestic Manhattan skyline.
These pieces and others in the more than 80-piece collection were unveiled first in Rome in June, followed by Singapore. At the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island, guests and media from the region were presented with their first glimpse of this new high jewellery creations at a Wild Pop themed manor on the lush grounds of the hotel. Proceeds from the sale of items directly inspired by Warhol will go to the Andy Warhol Foundation’s endowment, which has distributed some US$300 million in grants so far in support of the visual arts.
“We need to add experiences to make our jewellery more interesting for our clients, especially millennials. Before it was fine to present just great jewellery, but the client today wants more information, more experiences, more stories,” says di Roberto. And with Bulgari on the ears, fingers, wrist or around the neck, the client knows her piece of jewellery is a part of a long and creative journey before reaching its destination.
burst of colour The Precious Ruffles necklace in pink gold features 11 Zambian drop-cut emeralds, amethysts, turquoises and diamonds
(Clockwise from top left) Mauro di Roberto is Bulgari’s jewellery head; the Homage to New York necklace takes its geometric design from the crown of the Statue of Liberty; Happy Leaves depict marijuana leaves on the necklace; the Pop Mics bracelet of diamond and onyx microphones topped with colourful stones; Curls, My Love is a bracelet inspired by the rollers women used in the 80s to create the “big hair” look