How Bulgari’s ‘Wild Pop’ Haute Jewellery Collection Restored 21st Century Glamour
Just last year, Bulgari released a dazzlingly delectable collection, La Festa, in a grand party attended by it-girls Bella Hadid, Alicia Vikander, Shu Qi, Lottie Moss, decorated in precious jewels of elaborate shapes and lively colours.
Its quirky explorations of the Italian ‘La Dolce Vita’ themes – from legends, architecture, aristocracy, to sweets – made a lingering impression. So when Giampaolo della Croce, the charismatic high jewellery senior director of Bulgari met us in Singapore, pronouncing his job as “the most beautiful one in the whole universe,” it launched our conversation on the beguiling Wild Pop collection, of 18th-century-glamour-turned-21st-century-savoir-faire:
How Wild Pop artistically expresses female personalities
“It’s not easy because it’s very much emotional. Women possess such versatile personalities that it’s very difficult to grasp it. Our goal is to craft creations for different women, so it means those jewels have to be versatile. It’s not just the design but the way she can wear it, which makes a difference. We explore long sautoirs, chokers, a round neck, and long and delicate earrings.
We meet different cultures, attitudes, lifestyles and femininity. The way those jewels can be worn is so important to us.”
Led by art, from the start
"Our main source of inspiration, the Magnificent Inspirations, influences Bulgari’s 3 main pillars. There’s the mythological nature depicted by the sensuality of the serpent, the symbol for femininity with goddesses and legendary muses, then the bond with our city, Rome, and its architectural influences. Wild Pop is derived from that Italian Extravaganza."
Merging technicalities and the creative process
“5 out of the 8 designers in our atelier are trained goldsmiths. They know how a piece can fit a body from the first sketch and how to articulate it. To know their little secrets, I sat with the old masters for years, learning their technical skills. Now when we ideate, the 3 of us – the creators, the designers, and the goldsmiths – speak the same language and on par, technically and emotionally. It’s my 31st anniversary with the brand."
Wild Pop reinstates Bulgari's high jewellery authority
"The temptation in the world of jewellery, especially for brands with a rich history, is to open the book (of sketches) to adjust and make something new. We have more than 40,000 original sketches in our books but we hold on to the unexpected. The reason our clients are so excited by Bulgari is because they know they will be surprised and they want to be surprised. Therefore, we can’t copy ourselves. If someone asks for heritage pieces, we don't make replicas. Our approach is to know what we’ve done in the past, what’s behind the final piece and the reason we created it. Only then, can we elaborate it into something new."
"Wild Pop is inspired by the glam of iconic ladies like Joan Collins in Dynasty who was bejewelled by 10am – the kind of glam that was wearable from the morning."
How does the Bulgari spirit stand out?
"We like to dare. Hence our boldness with colour, shapes, and forms, and volumes, but above all, those pieces have to be endorsed and worn with pleasure. It can’t be too heavy or chunky or stiff – It has to be harmonious. So our speciality is in colour combinations and an understated architectural design."
"Our strength is to create something daring, and luminous, yet absolutely wearable and a pleasure to wear"
Personal favourites of the Wild Pop collection
"2 pieces are very close to my heart. One is the Homage to New York necklace. It is, to me, the first symbol of Wild Pop. Pop art was born in New York, and the statue of liberty is the symbol of NYC, embodied by this iconic tiara crowning the statue. First, it is the concept of liberty and freedom in artistic views. Second, it evokes our genuine style of shaping the gems and mother of pearls to fit the design.
My other favourite is the Sam the Cat bracelet with the little cats. It goes without saying that this is a super cute and meaningful piece to Warhol and his pet cats. It’s big, quite a statement, but light and supple."
See also: The Eternal Allure Of Bulgari
Wild Pop, a new benchmark for the world of high jewellery
"Wild Pop communicates a stronger message since Festa. These pieces will give other brands the confidence to go beyond their limitations. When I travel and observe other high jewellery collections, it’s getting harder to tell them apart and identify their spirit. Wild Pop challenges us to advance but stay true to the Bulgari identity. We are not French, we are not romantic – we want to keep our audacious approach to colours and architectural shapes. I think Wild Pop upholds that resemblance as a sister of the Serpenti and cousin of Festa."