Solitaire (Singapore)


Guy Bedarida’s fresh vision for Marina B. is the most exciting yet for the renowned brand

- Words by

Tallulah Lu

that were encrusted with diamonds and emeralds, and the rope braided in green silk with a very thin gold chain, and diamonds inside so that it sparkled when used. There were also drawings of precious gold and gemstone set yoyos for the other children.

“In the 1990s, I was the head designer of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York. One morning, a sales associate requested sketches of earrings for a customer. I presented three options with butterflie­s in white and yellow diamonds and pearls.” Four months later, when the selected designs were completed, Van Cleef’s US CEO called him to say that the customer wanted to know who created those earrings. This customer was in Los Angeles. “I had no idea it was Elizabeth Taylor,” Mr. Bedarida says in mock disbelief.

Eventually, he went to deliver the jewels to her, and they ended up spending the entire day together because Ms. Taylor was very pleased about the design, and wanted Mr. Bedarida to show her the entire collection of jewellery. “It was one of the most rewarding and exciting days of my life,” he recalls. “She was exquisite. And her eyes were indeed the most incredible shade of purple.”

Those Marina Moments

Sometime in the 1980s, at a famous charity event in Venice, Mr. Bedarida saw Mrs. Marella Agnelli wearing a stunning Marina B. necklace. Mrs. Agnelli was then the paragon of Italian beauty and grace, and Marina B. was one of the most successful and desirable brands around. But it was a memorable happenstan­ce.

Fast forward to 2019, and Mr. Bedarida was on his way to the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte Carlo to meet Mrs. Marina Bulgari and offer to buy her company. “As you can imagine, I was thrilled,” he enthuses. “Marina B, the brand, and its

founder, Mrs. Bulgari, are legendary. I was so honoured to have the chance to meet such an icon and to discuss her brand’s future.”

On the way to the meeting, he realised that he had a very rare opportunit­y to acquire a brand with such a great heritage and unique history. “The large luxury groups have acquired most of these kinds of brands, and I felt this might be one of the last opportunit­ies available to me.”

Although he purses his lips when I brazenly ask about the value of the transactio­n, he neverthele­ss tells me that “it represente­d the total of savings from over 25 years, plus the sale of my last company, which equalled a large sum! I had to also buy part of the old vintage – which I view as a separate, but equally exciting opportunit­y”.

Mr. Bedarida has since visited Marina several times. “She’s now in her 90s. At our initial meeting, she was wearing sneakers and a down jacket, and she said, ‘You know, Guy, I want to be comfortabl­e now. I don’t want to wear high heels.’ Marina is a modern woman who understand­s the new lifestyle, which I want to reflect in Marina B’s jewellery. It needs to be comfortabl­e and wearable for every day,” he says.

Although Mr. Bedarida is now the owner of the brand, two other companies have acquired Marina B. previously – Sheik Ahmed Fitaihi in 1999 and, later on, Mr. Paul Lubetsky in 2010. Certainly, these two previous owners had their inputs in the brand. Mr. Bedarida decided to start fresh and with an eye on the spirit of the founder while introducin­g creative ideas appropriat­e for today.

“I like to think that I had a fresh start when taking over Marina B, and my connection with Marina herself has helped me seamlessly transition into the role of Creative Director. I see so much opportunit­y with the brand – the incredible quality of the product, bringing new innovation­s into the designs and connecting with a whole new generation of Marina B clientele, and I am wholeheart­edly dedicated to bringing Marina B back to its glory days.”

Mr. John Hardy eventually sold the company to Mr. Bedarida and partners; eventually, he also sold his shares. “I was ready to make my return to fine jewellery with something fresh and exciting,” he says. “There could not have been a better option than Marina B. At John Hardy I had two business partners and they wanted to sell the company, which became so large at that time that I couldn’t acquire their shares. I had no choice despite my extreme love of the brand and company. In fact, I had no idea what was going to happen. Which really tells you, always trust in the future, and something even more exciting appeared: Marina B.”

Preternatu­rally Chic

I’m not alone in the view that Mr. Bedarida could have started his own eponymous brand. He is, after all, a well-establishe­d figure when he left John Hardy. “I did consider it; however, two things led me to my (eventual) decision. Firstly, to create a new brand takes minimum 20 to 30 years, and I did not want to take the time. Secondly, when the Marina B opportunit­y came to me, I couldn’t pass it up. Marina

B is iconic and carries such a strong heritage. I felt that there was so much that could be done with a brand like this one and my imaginatio­n ran wild with the possibilit­ies.”

Marina’s spirit remains throughout the DNA of this brand, Mr. Bedarida admits proudly. “I get endless inspiratio­n from her designs and innovation. Her drawings are mindblowin­g. Marina B is also emblematic of the iconic ‘80s style, which I personally love. I try to keep that essence throughout the collection­s.”

The style and the way jewellery is worn have evolved from when Marina was designing, he says. Needless to say, Marina B. is attuned to the ways of chic women today. “A woman would wear jewellery, and her daughter would want to wear what her mother was wearing. Now, a mother looks to what her young daughter is wearing and is drawn to what’s fresh and cool. Our clients want something you can wear all the time, without catching the attention of everyone. With our more accessible core collection­s, we are appealing to a wider and younger market.”

Unless they travel to New York, women who must have pieces from the latest Marina B. collection­s have to wait for an invitation to the very exclusive shopping events mastermind­ed by private luxury shopping organiser Privato. Fortunatel­y, Mr. Bedarida often travels to Southeast Asia – to find design inspiratio­n and to source stones. He takes time from these trips to work with Privato and show his collection­s to clients. The wait, at least for those ‘on the list’, is never too long.

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