Tatler talks to Mary Katrantzou on her new accessories line for Bulgari
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In 2019 celebrated Greek designer Mary Katrantzou collaborated with Bulgari on her first Haute Couture collection presented at the ancient Temple of Poseidon, sending models down the runway clad in her decadent gowns and accessorised with Bulgari’s lavish high jewellery. Two years later, Katrantzou once again joins forces with the historic Italian house, this time on an accessories collection designed by her.
‘Bulgari is a house that is completely adored in Greece. I remember my mother had a piece of Bulgari jewellery and when I was a child she let me play dress up with it,’ says Katrantzou, ‘I grew up appreciating the codes of Bulgari; the larger than life aesthetic, the vivid colours, the boldness and integrity of design. There is also a synergy between Greece and Rome in terms of architecture, colour and pattern so when I got the chance to see the Bulgari archives, so many of the symbols felt very innate to me.’
Given full carte blanche for the line, ‘Serpenti: Through the eyes of Mary Katrantzou’ features bags, minaudieres and silk scarves inspired by the metamorphosis of the snake, a Bulgari staple, ‘Since ancient times the Serpenti holds powerful symbolism in Roman mythology,’ Katrantzou explains, ‘Drawn to the idea of metamorphosis, my intention was to highlight the Serpenti as a symbol of femininity, transformation and rebirth. My first instinct was to highlight all the different facets of Serpenti: the head, its body and its skin and to give each new meaning through the designs.’
Fully designed and created in lockdown, Katrantzou relied on digital meetings to realise her dream accessoires line, ‘Thankfully we didn’t feel we needed to be there, it all happened very collaboratively and it taught us that in many ways working remotely made the process a lot more decisive and a lot more precise,’ says Katrantzou.
Commonly known as the goddess of prints, the collection itself isn’t typical Mary Katrantzou. With bold monochromatic designs in reds, blues, creams and greens, the pieces are extremely wearable, versatile and, of course, uber-chic although quite toned down in regards to her previous ready-to-wear collections. One style, though, does scream everything MK, with an explosion of jewelled butterflies all created by hand in another nod to the idea of metamorphosis. Either way, they’re the perfect choice to accessorise with a Katrantzou gown.
My personal favourite, the snake head minaudiere, takes inspiration from a specific vintage Bulgari watch; the 1968 black, white and cream harlequin watch. ‘I wanted to keep it very central to Serpenti, why only limit myself to using it as a clasp to the bag but to also create an entire minaudiere that really mimics the snake head, from the enamel work to the mechanism of pressing the tongue to open it,’ Katrantzou explains.
The stunning campaign imagery features supermodel Natalia Vodianova and the collection itself supports her charity The Naked Heart Foundation. ‘We both felt it would be wonderful to also partner with her charity to support their cause and communicate with our collaboration about the power of design to be meaningful. Her grace, generosity of spirit and compassion embodied all the values Bulgari and I stand for,’ Katrantzou explains, ‘She is a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist and to me that’s the face of strength. I immediately knew she had to be the face.’
Katrantzou is just as excited for the launch as the discerning fashion crowd will be, when asked where she’ll be wearing her new collection first she gushes, ‘Oh my god, I am taking my bags everywhere! I cannot wait to wear the whole set. I am still in Athens at the moment but hopefully the first place will be back in London, we have to meet for coffee when things are safer!’
The collection launches on 21 April and preorders will be available from today at bulgari.com.