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Style & Design

Close-up on Bvlgari

The cinematic glamour of Rome’s ‘Dolce Vita’ years infuses the Italian maison’s latest collection. Jewelry director Lucia Silvestri shares her creative perspective.

By Claudia Carletti Camponeschi

Rome, the Eternal City, is one of the world’s great style centers. During the “Dolce Vita” years of the 1950s and ’60s, it attracted glamorous Hollywood stars who flocked to its Cinecittà Studios. The city is also the emotional root of Bulgari jewelry director Lucia Silvestri’s design inspiration.

It’s no accident that Bulgari’s latest high-jewelry collection is called Cinemagia. This is a collection that pays tribute to the magic of cinema and to the irresistible style of those film divas who helped make Bulgari an international success. Cinemagia is a celebration of the strong links Bulgari has with the silver screen; it speaks of the brand’s Roman soul and the city’s vibrant atmosphere, displaying superb gemstones and an exquisite sense of savoir faire. The collection brings to life the dream of a bygone golden age; it winks at the past while looking into the future of jewelry style.

Silvestri’s role is not just to remain faithful to Bulgari’s design traditions, but also to give them the contemporary touch that will make the Italian jeweler’s creations relevant to a younger audience. That’s an objective Bulgari has been able to pursue more easily since fashion group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired the company in 2011. The move has enabled the jeweler to amplify the quantity and quality of its collections, while opening up new commercial avenues and granting the brand greater visibility, according to Silvestri.

Here, the jewelry director talks about Bulgari’s creative process, her own ties to Rome, and her endeavors to design trans-generational jewels that are a joy to wear.

What do you look for when you go gem hunting? What catches your eye?

The most important thing is that I don’t buy a stone if I don’t know what to do with it.

There are very beautiful stones from a technical point of view, but if they do not speak to me, they have no soul, [and] a stone must have a soul. Then it must have all the features in terms of color, cut and weight that make it a top-quality stone.

How much do the tastes of Bulgari’s clientele factor into the creative direction you take in your collections?

[The creative direction] reflects first of all the codes of the maison; our archives, to which we refer; and then the theme of the new collection and the brief we receive from marketing.

How does your personal taste in jewelry influence what you design for Bulgari clients?

I would say [it’s the other way around,] that my personal taste is influenced by Bulgari, as I’ve been in the company for 40 years. I made the codes of the maison mine, and in fact, the biggest challenge is to make them contemporary. Then, of course, we are often in contact with customers of various nationalities, each with a different approach to jewelry, [so those aspects factor in as well].

Is there a jewelry period or style you particularly favor?

There are several periods that I love. I really like the jewelry of the ’30s in general, and I really like the period of Bulgari in the ’60s.

What do you appreciate the most in jewelry?

The harmony between gems and creativity, the design of the jewel. Moreover, if there are [multiple] colored stones [set together], there must be harmony.

What is your vision of what jewelry should represent to a woman?

For me, jewelry is a fundamental accessory, the completion of a look. Through jewelry, you can understand a woman’s personality. I like to identify a woman by how she wears and mixes jewels.

Bulgari’s design and creativity history are closely linked to Rome, its architecture, its Dolce Vita allure, its magic. What does Rome represent to you?

Rome has always been a source of inspiration not only for me, but since the Bulgari family days. Bulgari exploded internationally in the years of the Dolce Vita, when Hollywood divas came to Rome for Cinecittà and visited our boutique. This year, we paid tribute to the cinema, the divas and the Dolce Vita with our new HJ Cinemagia collection.

Rome is also an open-air museum; I was born there, I grew up there, and it still amazes me.

How has being part of the LVMH group empowered Bulgari from a business point of view? Does being part of such a company impact your work?

It had an impact to the extent that the collections increased, and it gave a lot of space to the creative aspect, leaving us the freedom to continue with our skills, our know-how and our codes.

Obviously, it is more demanding, as the number of shops and customers has increased. There is also much more communication and more events, and now we are more visible than before.

How do you see the future of an international luxury house like Bulgari?

I see it as an increasingly cool brand, oriented toward [spanning] generations in the sense that our jewels are handed down [from mother to daughter, designed to be] very close to the new generations and increasingly expanding [to reach a broader audience].

Love at first sightLucia Silvestri was 18 years old when she began her career in Bulgari’s gemological department, and she instantly became enamored of the precious-stone world. She fell in love “with the colors, the variety and the energy that I felt emanating from the gems,” she recalls. At that point, she chose to leave her biology studies. The Bulgari brothers quickly intuited Silvestri’s potential as a talent to be nurtured, and decided to teach her the trade. “I was the right person in the right place at the right time,” she says.

She began traveling the world, meeting with the foremost gemological experts and countless others in the field of jewelry. Every trip brought discoveries that contributed to her experience and, with time, expertise. That expertise grew until she was doing the job only the Bulgari brothers had done in the past: director of gem acquisitions. In June of 2013, she achieved her longtime dream of becoming Bulgari’s creative director for jewelry.

Image: Bulgari

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2020. To subscribe click here.

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