CEO Jean Christophe Babin on the new Wild Pop collection and why he loves the 1980s.
How important is the 1980s to Bvlgari?
The art of Bvlgari as we know today is a style that was born decades ago — it stems from the bold Roman architecture and the daring colour combinations that are also linked to Rome. However it was in the 1970s and 1980s that Nicola Bulgari (who is still the president of our board), driven by work and passion, went to New York. That was during the Pop Art period and he was friends with most of artists, such as Andy Warhol, who became one of his best friends. Nicola’s time in New York was a greater influence to the brand than any other luxury brand at that time — it was why we incorporated elements of street art and pop art
into our design language. (It’s also why we have a special capsule collection for the United States when we celebrated the reopening of our Fifth Avenue flagship in New York last year.) The new Wild Pop collection is as much an evolution of how we were inspired by the wild 80s, as it is a modern expression of Pop Art.
The idea behind the collection is also to highlight Bvlgari’s audacious design aesthetic, which is aligned with the daring and risk-taking mood of the 1980s. How does Bvlgari continue to push the boundaries of high jewellery making?
We’ve always been known as the masters of the cabochon cut but we continue to invent new cuts that push the technical boundaries. Four years ago, we developed the takti cut which was inspired by India and last year in the Festa Collection, we introduced the balloon cut which is inspired by parties. This year, we’re playing with geometry and symbols, such as incorporating synthesisers and freedom flowers into our jewellery. This allows us to experiment with new ways of combining different gemstones. In terms of jewellery construction, the Ruby Spring necklace is for us a major progress in terms of goldsmithing, construction and articulation. It’s a daring design and is one of the first few examples of “technical” high jewellery, something we hardly talk about but contributes very much to the pleasure of wearing high jewellery.
Which pieces in the Wild Pop collection resonate most intimately with you?
The Ruby Spring necklace because it’s whimsical and it’s really something you’ve never seen before, yet, at the same time, it’s logical. We are the master of the Tubogas technique which is also a spring. While the Tubogas is a closed technique, the Ruby Spring is more open worked so it sits gracefully on the neck. The goldsmithing combined with the use of high quality rubies and diamonds makes this piece truly exceptional. I also like the Queen of Pop necklace (pictured above): It shows off a very important sapphire and also highlights Bvlgari’s design creativity; the 24.80- ct sapphire is one of the most beautiful sapphires we have ever used and it’s wonderful to celebrate it in the context of pop art.
How was your 1980s like?
After completing my military service, in the true spirit of the roaring 80s, I backpacked and travelled. I was young, curious and daring back then so I left Europe with a plane ticket, a few dollars in my pocket and explored Asia. I loved mountaineering so I did several tracks in India, Southeast Asia and China. Getting to know the different cultures, arts, philosophies and religions which I had previously only read in book really contributed to the way I perceive beauty and life. Obviously I made all the pilgrimages that you can imagine, from Phewa Lake to Goa beach, being immersed in local culture and listening to Pink Floyd on my Walkman.