Lahd Gallery was delighted to have been invited to attend a private view of the Bulgari Heritage Exhibition on May 29th, held at the jeweller’s UK headquarters on New Bond Street. The theme for the evening was ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014,’ and as lead sponsors of the V&A’s spring exhibition of the same name, Bulgari invited their guests to sip a cocktail, experience a little dolce vita and escape for an evening into the opulent world of Italian design and craftsmanship.
Guests were given up-close and personal access to specimens of some of Bulgari’s key masterpieces from across the decades at the private view. From the newest collection of Bulgari jewellery, handbags and glasses on one floor to some of Bulgari’s most iconic jewellery pieces – once owned by figures as illustrious as Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace of Monaco – in the vault.
Serving as an apertitivo to the main V&A event, guests were invited from all corners of the luxury and fashion industry, and the evening buzzed with anticipation. Celebrating 130 years of business this year, the Italian fashion house has sat firmly at the epicentre of all things stylish and decadent, attracting the patronage of Hollywood stars as iconic as Elizabeth Taylor in the sixties and firmly maintaining its reputation for being the last word in glamour to this day. Taylor was said to be so enchanted by Bulgari diamonds, in fact, that her then-husband Richard Burton once suggested that the only word his wife knew in Italian was ‘Bulgari.’ Fellow style icon Audrey Hepburn became another ambassador for Italian couture in the fifties and sixties too, and the rest – as they say – is history. Italy was soon firmly planted on the fashion map.
Oozing luxury and decadence, Italy and all it stood for became the reinvigorating tonic people needed to strengthen broken, post-war spirits. The sixties saw Hollywood sit up and take notice of Italy, and saw flocks of tourists descend on the flagship Bulgari store on via Condotti. Rome became an overnight film set and Capri the ultimate romantic setting for a jet-set, glamorous romance.
As a taster for what to expect at the V&A exhibition that is running now until it closes on 27th July, this sumptuous private view told guests an important story of how Italy transformed its poor post-war image through the medium of fashion. From images of the bombed streets of an economically ruined Florence in 1946 to details of the same city’s first big-hit fashion shows of the early fifties, the V&A exhibition puts Italy’s complex and fascinating relationship with fashion into a clear historical context, with plenty of beautiful objects to marvel at along the way.
Expect to see some of the finest offerings from Italian fashion houses Simonetta, Pucci, Sorelle Fontana, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, Fendi, Prada and Versace if you pay the exhibition a visit.
Playing Card sautoir, 1972. Gold with coral, mother-of-pearl, onyx and diamonds. Bulgari Heritage Collection.
“Tremblant” brooch, 1962. Platinum with fancy yellow diamonds and diamonds. Bulgari Heritage Collection.
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the famous Bulgari 1962 emerald and diamond necklace.
Dr. Nauf AlBendar wearing the Bulgari Diva Collection.