Two years ago, in celebration of Bulgari’s 130th anniversary, the venerable Italian jeweller commissioned über-architect Peter Marino to redesign its Roman flagship on Via dei Condotti. The result was a stunning blend of old and new that is the hallmark of fashion’s go-to interior designer (Chanel and Louis Vuitton are also clients): Marino mixed resplendent nods to the maison’s Roman and Mediterranean roots with a host of fine materials and curated artworks.
The renovation clearly hit the target, and Bulgari tasked Marino with revamping its New Bond Street flagship, which opens its doors on April 14. Several standout designs from the Condotti space make their way to Mayfair, such as a bold, bronze latticework staircase (second picture) inspired by the floor of the Pantheon, and the symbolic eight-pointed star that is part of the original flooring in the Rome boutique.
Precious materials feature throughout – 36 of them, namely fine marbles, varying tones of marmorino anddecadent silks and velvets. Italian-crafted pieces include those handpicked by Marino for their makers’ link with Bulgari’s heritage (Vistosi’s oval-shaped Murano crystal chandelier and an original c1950s Osvaldo Borsani dining table, are two exemplary works). But a mere Roman replica this is not: Marino has made the most of the listed New Bond Street building: the upper floors are flooded with natural light thanks to ceiling vaults inspired by the house of British architect Sir John Soane.
At two floors and 500sq m, the boutique’s overall size has not changed, though there are more intimate spaces and private rooms. The 1960s-style Il Salottino Taylor VIP lounge is modelled after the one in the Roman flagship – Elizabeth Taylor spent much time in the Condotti store (her photograph graces one of the salons, third picture).
One-off high-jewellery creations (all price on request) by creative director Lucia Silvestri include the Diva white gold necklace set with 29 sapphires totalling 18.55ct, and a gold necklace (fourth picture) with tourmalines, tanzanites, spessartines, peridots, beryls, citrines and amethysts.
On the watch front, visitors should make a beeline – or rather a snake-line – for the bejewelled Serpenti Incantati (price on request, first picture). A fresh new take on Bulgari’s Serpenti motif, the ever-evocative ophidian now coils around the case for the first time. The timepiece comes in either 30mm in white or rose gold with a satin or jewellery strap, or a 41mm mechanical version, a skeleton tourbillon, available either in rose gold (limited to 50 pieces) with 209 diamonds and two rubellites, or in white gold (limited to 30) with 228 diamonds and a sapphire.
For men, the new boutique has a 1950s, gentlemen’s club-inspired area to indulge in the newest men’s watches. Among them is Bulgari’s super-masculine and sporty Diagono Magnesium (from £4,000), available as per its original form in four colours (black, red, blue, grey; fifth picture), but now with extra performance in a self-winding chronograph.
But the real showstopper is the new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater (price on request, limited to 50 pieces, sixth picture), a breakthrough creation combining Bulgari’s expertise in thin movements and high horology. With an in-house-made BVL Calibre 362 measuring just 3.12mm and the overall case only 6.85mm thick, the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is billed as the smallest striking watch on the market.
Finally, no Bulgari unveiling would be complete without a touch of glamorous dolce vita, and to this end the maison is marking the opening with several exceptional archive jewels. On show will be a suite of 1960s gold, coral, diamond and pearl gems, alongside a set of 1960s diamond and emerald creations – a Sette Meraviglie (Seven Wonders) necklace of seven exceptionally large Colombian emeralds, and a similar earring design. The latter pieces were owned by Monica Vitti and Gina Lollobrigida respectively, two famous Italian actresses who sit resplendent in Bulgari’s history books of starlet clients.