TILT­ING THE SCALES

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N icholas Kirk­wood is no stranger to lux­ury col­lab­o­ra­tions. In the past, the cel­e­brated Bri­tish footwear de­signer has cre­ated calf leather loafers for Er­dem, bow-em­bel­lished vel­vet pumps for Rok­sanda and suede Ox­fords for Peter Pilotto. Now, for the first time, Kirk­wood is ap­ply­ing his sig­na­ture ar­chi­tec­tural and graphic de­sign style to a hand­bag. But not to any old purse: to Bul­gari’s iconic Ser­penti For­ever.

The re­sul­tant four-piece capsule col­lec­tion, which is avail­able in se­lect bou­tiques from this month, fea­tures a sin­u­ous chevron pat­tern de­signed to re­flect the lithe move­ments of the ser­pent, a re­cur­ring Bul­gari mo­tif since the 1960s. The zigzag­ging lines are a strik­ing move away from the orig­i­nal bag’s struc­tured shape, and are ren­dered bolder still for their use of colour: pink spinel, royal sap­phire, bright gold and stark mono­chrome. The richly tex­tured calf leather fur­ther evokes the snake’s scales, while an enam­elled snake­head clasp glints with gem­stone-in­spired eyes.

“The ser­penti mo­tif has such an in­ter­est­ing de­sign ethos be­hind it, which is what I love about the col­lec­tion,” says Kirk­wood. “In mythol­ogy, the ser­pent rep­re­sents sub­lime per­cep­tion, trans­for­ma­tion, im­mor­tal­ity and, best of all, fer­til­ity. Who knows what will hap­pen when you wear this hand­bag?”

Kirk­wood also used var­i­ous types of rub­berised studs with faceted ends, which he says re­minded him of the “diamond set­tings and spec­tac­u­lar gem­stones [he] saw at the Bul­gari high-jew­ellery ate­lier”. It was a visit to the ate­lier last year, where he ob­served Bul­gari’s master cra smen bring­ing one-of-a-kind pieces to life, that sparked the col­lab­o­ra­tion in the first place.

This was fol­lowed by Bul­gari’s Ser­pen­tiForm ex­hi­bi­tion in the Mu­seum of Rome, where Kirk­wood was able to ap­pre­ci­ate how the snake mo­tif has in­spired a num­ber of artists, sculp­tors, film­mak­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers through the ages. Ap­par­ently, he also re­alised that the house’s aes­thetic was per­fectly in keep­ing with his own pen­chant for bold­ness, and for blend­ing un­con­ven­tional colours, pat­terns and ma­te­ri­als to­gether. The or­na­men­ta­tion on the Ser­penti For­ever capsule col­lec­tion, for in­stance, is a seem­ingly er­ratic com­bi­na­tion of flat, round and pyra­mi­dal studs, both var­nished and matte. The sleek clasp, too, gets an up­date – in­ter­preted as it is in a two-tone palette.

The lim­ited-edi­tion bags are avail­able in four styles: a back­pack, shoul­der bag, wal­let and an en­ve­lope clutch. Kirk­wood has said that this first foray into de­sign­ing bags felt like a nat­u­ral move for him, and he hopes to of­fer more than footwear from his epony­mous brand in the fu­ture. The col­lec­tion is cur­rently avail­able at se­lect Bul­gari bou­tiques around the world, in­clud­ing those in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. www.bul­gari.com

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