Alexander Wang reinterprets Bulgari’s Serpenti motif
Street style and heritage jewellery houses are perhaps not the most obvious partners. All the more reason for the Roman jewellery house Bulgari to buck the trend. Its latest project is born of a union with wunderkind Alexander Wang, the designer who is the epitome of New York cool.
As part of its ‘Serpenti Through the Eyes Of’ series, which debuted in 2017, Bulgari handed the creative reins over to Wang to reinterpret its signature Serpenti motif for a special capsule collection. The resulting Alexander Wang x Bulgari collection centers around a reimagining of the house’s ladylike Serpenti Forever bag, which Wang has multiplied into six different styles.
Ranging from a belt bag with two serpent closures, detachable straps and a detachable handle, to a double flap and triple flap handbag (each layer also emblazoned with the serpent’s head) that also feature additional interior pockets for practical purposes, Wang’s riffs on the renowned design elevate the allure of original design while imbuing them with a youthful versatility.
‘In my research into the archives, I was drawn to the Bulgari Serpenti head, made in the 1960s, which has a true timelessness to it,’ Wang explains. ‘Bulgari was then able to replicate that specific design and we applied it as the focal hardware in the capsule.’
Although available in a range of sizes, materials and colours, such as calf leather in mint green, black and white, a natural python skin and a glossy lizard, the endeavor doesn’t stop there. Wang also liked the idea of turning luxury packaging tropes, such as dust bags and paper shopping bags and watch boxes, into accessories in their own right. From structured shopping totes and box-like minaudieres with a matching wrist cuff, to the rebellious Two-in-One satchel, which fuses a leather satchel handbag with a drawstring dustbag exterior, these pieces make a compelling, tongue-in-cheek statement.
‘I wanted to approach this collaboration a bit differently than the rest, and focus on the notion of packaging as luxury – taking key elements of the purchase ceremony and highlighting them in a way only a heritage house such as Bulgari can,’ says Wang. ‘[It was about] looking at all of the external elements that comes with the luxury shopping experience.’
The collaboration with Wang adds a new chapter to Bulgari’s already close relationship with New York. The Italian jeweller opened its first retail outpost in the city in 1971, at the Pierre Hotel near Central Park. Its jewelled blue and red gemstone-swathed ‘Stars and Stripes’ collection was designed a year later to commemorate the United States Bicentennial. In 2017, the house launched another New York collection in celebration of its re-opened Fifth Avenue flagship, dazzling with coral, lapis lazuli and antique American coins.
Bulgari’s accessories managing director Mireia Lopez Montoya concludes, ‘Daringness is something we love in Alex’s designs and that is part of Bulgari’s approach to creativity. But what really struck us was that despite his own, extremely contemporary viewpoint, Alexander paid particular attention to the history of the brand, going through our historical archive. From the very beginning, he had a very clear vision of what he wanted to do. His ability to create a virtual bridge between this new collection and the historical design codes of the house is what makes this such an exciting partnership.’ §