A Grand Retrospective
BVLGARI–125 YEARS OF ITALIAN MAGNIFICENCE
To celebrate the opening of its retrospective exhibit, 125 Years of Italian Magnificence, Bulgari recently hosted a private cocktail vernissage at the Grand Palais in Paris. Notable guests included Juliette Binoche, Lenny Kravitz, Julianne Moore, Clive Owen and Carole Bouquet; but the legendary faces on display–Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren–not to mention the jewelry itself, were the real stars of the show.
This extraordinary exhibition traces Bulgari’s historic and aesthetic evolution, laid out in chronological order along eight thematic lines. More than 600 jewels, watches, and objets d’art –as well as films, sketches and photographs–are assembled in one place.
Visitors enter the exhibit through a diamond-shaped, mirrored structure reflecting fragments of the glass dome of the Grand Palais soaring overhead. The exhibit continues through a series of thematic spaces arranged around a mirrored diamond center.
Many of the items on display were lent by private collectors, and are thus being displayed in public for the first time. Spectacular creations worn and owned by screen legends like Anna Magnani, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Ingrid Bergman, Monica Vitti, Romy Schneider and Sophia Loren illustrate the close ties between Bulgari and the world of cinema. One entire room is devoted to the fabulous collection of Elizabeth Taylor, featuring some of Bulgari’s most extraordinary and iconic creations: tremblant brooches, gemme nummarie (coin jewels), serpent bracelet watches, stunning sautoirs and modular jewels.
What becomes obvious while moving through the exhibit is how successfully Bulgari reinvented itself by adapting to the fashion of each era: there are pieces inspired by Neo-Hellenism, antique French jewelry styles, the Art Deco movement, and Pop Art. In fact, it wasn’t until the ’60s that the house developed its own distinctive style, known as the “Italian school” of jewelry. This style ultimately made the brand world-famous–and the newer pieces on display illustrate Bulgari’s bold shapes, unusual materials and distinctive color combinations.
As Nicola Bulgari said in 1995, “You can’t simply live on past glories; that’s foolish. To be a success, you have to combine the worlds of the past, present and the future. That is the challenge, and there are many horizons.”
BVLGARI–125 Ans de Magnificence Italienne (125 Years of Italian Magnificence) is open through January 12, 2011.
Photographs courtesy of Bulgari