Robert Mapplethorpe inspires Repossi’s new high jewellery

Gaia Repossi, invited by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to create a new jewellery collection, unveils eight pieces

Robert Mapplethorpe wearing a necklace pictured left, a Repossi long white gold necklace pictured right
(Image credit: Left, photography: Valerie Santagto)

Repossi has collaborated with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation for its latest high jewellery collection. The capsule collection, composed of eight styles, is inspired by the jewellery that American photographer Mapplethorpe created at the beginning of his career from found objects, here rethought in precious metals.

Mapplethorpe’s early flirtations with jewellery design married an eclectic selection of materials, encompassing everything from the heavy chains he liked to wear to the long necklaces he created from items including dice and beads.

Gold ring which looks like a flag rolled round the finger

(Image credit: press)

Gaia Repossi, creative director of the eponymous family company, has stayed faithful to this effortless aesthetic with a jewellery collection that reinterprets these casually found items in precious metals. The ‘Relic Claw’ necklace rethinks the crab claw that was the focal point of a Mapplethorpe necklace, here drawn in white gold and paired with pearls and gold beads. Other pieces reconsider the hardware Mapplethorpe liked to wear; a white gold chain studded with white and grey diamonds forms multiple loops around the neck. His photographs, too, are a source of inspiration for Repossi – his 1982 photograph of Lisa Lyon with the American flag wrapped around her arm becomes a yellow and black gold flag coiling around the finger.

Repossi was invited by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to create the pieces. ‘I was able to access Robert’s entire archive of jewellery and jewellery materials at the Getty Research Institute,’ she says. ‘This collection is a tribute to his ingenious aesthetic and the beautiful items he assembled.’

Both Mapplethorpe and Repossi sidestep traditional jewellery codes, creating pieces that are refreshingly imperfect. In this new jewellery, Repossi stays faithful to Mapplethorpe’s habit of using patinated gold rather than polished, while playing with volume and delighting in the contrast and juxtaposition of materials.

The first eight pieces of the collection have just launched at Dover Street Market New York, where they will remain before travelling to the Los Angeles branch in July, and to London in August, before arriving at the flagship Repossi store at Place Vendôme, Paris.

Repossi silver ring with diamonds

(Image credit: press)

Gold necklace with beads and a silver horn on it

(Image credit: press)

Repossi gold bracelet on white background

(Image credit: press)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.