Lucia Silvestri was all of 18 when she started her journey with Bulgari in its gemological department. She was taken in by the world of precious stones, so much so that she decided to leave her perusal of biology and dedicate herself to the world of gemstones.
Over the years, Silvestri fast grew within the company, reaching a point where she was doing the job that only the Bulgari brothers had done in the past—Director of Gem Acquisitions. And in 2013, she achieved her lifelong dream of becoming Bulgari’s Jewellery Creative Director.
This year not only marks the tenth anniversary for Silvestri in her role but also a 75th-year celebration for Bulgari’s Serpenti. The first Serpenti piece was a bracelet watch designed in 1948. The line further expanded into leather goods, and over the decades, the Serpenti has become a symbol of female empowerment. The emblem has also made its way into the world of art. This year will see a new series of collaborations between Bulgari and many artists.
In the midst of celebrating these milestones, we caught up with Silvestri during her visit to Mumbai and got to know more about her journey and her vision for Bulgari.
Ainee Nizami Ahmedi (ANA):This year marks a decade for you as Bulgari’s Creative Director. Are you at the place you’ve always wanted to be?
LUCIA SILVESTRI (LS): Absolutely, there is no other place or brand I would love to be and work with! I love my work and my path in Bulgari, and after all these years, the brand’s history, DNA, challenges and future are both a work passion and a family! In all these years, the greatest achievement has been being able to transmit the Bulgari DNA in every creation, but at the same time, always innovating it, making it contemporary. And this is still a beautiful challenge which makes me want to stay and keep doing what I love with the same passion for over 40 years!
ANA: You began your career at 18, leading Bulgari to many milestones. What have been some of your key learnings in the midst of it all?
LS: I can’t help but think of the very first lesson learned—never buy a gem without knowing how you are going to use it! Getting this lesson has helped me over the years to the point of managing my double role of Creative Director and Gems Buying Director with a very instinctive and natural approach. On a personal level, other important lessons I have learned over the years are the importance of believing in what you do and doing it with a lot of passion, being determined and also being humble.
ANA: Tell us how Bulgari Serpenti came about. What was the inspiration, and how has it translated into a collection?
LS: With its infinite metamorphosis, Serpenti is the sign that best embodies the audacious spirit of a brand whose journey took it from a jewellery shop in Rome to a global luxury house, transcending trends to pioneer its own distinctive style. Serpenti is also a symbol of strength and determination, combined with innate charm and elegance. All these are the values infused in our collection: we always work to push our boundaries and renew ourselves, experimenting through new proposals in terms of design, creativity, innovation and exquisite craftsmanship.
ANA: How are you marking the iconic 75th anniversary of the Serpenti?
LS: To celebrate the anniversary, we’re writing an exciting new chapter in a story of ongoing change, where inspiration turns into art, and legacy into the future. On a product level, we want to push our boundaries even further, showing how the Serpenti icon can continue its endless metamorphoses without losing its essence—an ambitious goal that fully reflects our effort to constantly renew our aesthetic codes and creative proposals, remaining faithful and preserving our precious DNA.
We are also launching the Bulgari Serpenti Factories around the world. An artistic initiative focussing on the snake as an endless source of creative production, drawing on the imagery of the icon to discover how the inspirations, symbols, techniques and archives of the Maison continue to influence the inexhaustible creativity and craftsmanship of Serpenti.
ANA: The collection sees a series of collaborations between Bulgari and certain artists. Can you tell us a bit about that?
LS: Serpenti is a strong and fascinating symbol that lends itself to inexhaustible interpretations and is a source of inspiration in many ways. It’s wonderful to see how this icon can expand into different fields, giving birth to extraordinary synergies as in the work of art. The collaboration with the media artist and director Refik Anadol on Serpenti is a perfect example in this sense. The project also includes special collaborations between other international contemporary artists such as Davide Quayola, Daniel Rozin, Sougwen Chung and Cate M Mercier.
ANA: Bulgari has been the choice of jewellery for the modern woman in varied stages of her life. Is it a conscious choice to design for a customer who is independent, feminist and has a strong voice?
LS: Since the beginning, our roots have been deeply intertwined with women, muses characterised by a charismatic and magnetic attitude, self-confidence, and powerful and determined personality, but also very feminine and elegant. Women with something to say. It is a strong connection that has always inspired and continues to inspire our creations.
ANA: What inspires Bulgari’s designs, and how do you stay ahead of current fashion trends?
LS: Rome, which has been a muse for the brand’s creations for over 130 years, together with the gems, which are the most precious gift that nature offers us, are my primary sources of inspiration. We keep up with the times drawn on the infinite facets of our main muses: no one gemstone is the same as an-other. Each stone amazes in a different way and offers ever-new creative inputs. Rome is a city of a thousand shades as during its millennial history, it has lived so many different periods and underwent so many different artistic influences that you never finish discovering it. These ever-changing inputs allow us to always have a shifting creative vision that is constantly evolving by embracing new trends and meeting modern needs.
ANA: What would you say sets Bulgari apart from other luxury jewellery brands?
LS: For us, colour has a primary role, as well as creativity and attention to every detail. Bulgari’s colour combination is really a unique signature of the brand and, I would say, a form of art. Our creations are unique works of art due to the outstanding gemstones we use, the breathtaking craftsmanship and the modern yet timeless design inspired by Roman beauty.
Find ELLE’s latest issue on stands or download your digital copy here.