Luxury fashion installation

Vintage Dior haute couture by Gianfranco Ferré, from the late 1990s

In Rome, history, style and a captivating jewellery collection come together in an engrossing new exhibition by home-grown global label Bulgari. Its brand and heritage curator Lucia Boscaini takes LUX on a personal tour

Jewels can tell many different stories: one is the glamorous story linked to their provenance, as is the case of the jewels that belonged to movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor or Anna Magnani.

precious diamond and sapphire necklace with pendant

Bulgari sautoir, 1969.

But we delved into their ‘behind the scenes’ stories too – for instance, Elizabeth Taylor often received jewels as gifts, namely from Richard Burton, but she was also a passionate collector from a young age thanks to her father who was an art dealer – she shared his discerning eye for beauty.

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Anna Magnani also bought jewels for herself, a self-indulgence that perhaps made up for a less-than-happy romantic life. Despite the humble characters she played on screen, she loved to buy and wear very elegant jewels as a life-affirming act. She had a child outside of marriage, which, in her era, would have been a difficult situation to face – both as a woman and as a celebrity. She had a difficult personal life and I think the jewels gave her some energy and ‘sparkle’.

Diamond brooch

Bulgari tremblant brooch in platinum with yellow and cognac-colour diamonds, 1959. Formerly in the Elizabeth Taylor Collection

Woman wearing haute couture dress

As well as Bulgari jewels, the exhibition also features vintage haute couture from the collection of Cecilia
Matteucci Lavarini

diamond, sapphire brooch

“Giardinetto” brooch, 1960.

I believe that jewellery can be transformed by the personal style of the woman who wears it. When they are matched to a charismatic persona and style, all jewels undeniably take on a personality of their own.

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We’ve also designed the show to capture the way in which the jewellery reveals some of the social and fashion trends from different epochs. For example, the eclectic and sometimes fun sautoirs from the 1970s remind us that it was a decade of experimentation, with a drive to change in many social aspects. The same is true of the sumptuous chokers from the 1980s, with their compact shape that immediately recalls the teased hair, loud make-up and puffed shoulders of that period.

Model wearing diamond jewels

The exhibition also includes displays from a 1920s French haute couture atelier

Diamond and ruby bracelet

Bulgari bracelet in platinum with rubies and diamonds, ca 1934.

Bulgari’s modular jewels from the 1980s also reference career women, the number of whom grew during those years, as they looked for affordable, stylish and distinctive jewels to be worn either in the office or at cocktails after working hours.

The exhibition, ‘Bulgari: The Story, The Dream’, is showing until 3 November in the Palazzo Venezia and Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Find out more: polomusealelazio; beniculturali.it

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.