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BVLGARI and Mary Katrantzou Reimagine The Iconic Serpenti

Bvlgari’s collaborated with Greek designer, Mary Katrantzou, on a capsule handbag collection inspired by its signature and iconic Serpenti motif. Highlighting a storyline of transformation, the collection features three unique styles: the Serpenti Metamorphosis bag, the Serpenti Metamorphosis handle bag, and the Serpenti Metamorphosis minaudière. Expressed through three-dimensional embroidery, whimsical designs, leather goods artistry, and fine enamel details, the collection balances the historic Roman craftsmanship of Bvlgari with an exuberant burst of creativity from Katrantzou.

Here, Mary Katrantzou reveals the creative process of designing the collection virtually, and how it felt collaborating with a Maison with such a storied history.

What was it like to take on the responsibility of reimagining BVLGARI’s iconic Serpenti motif?

“What I wanted to focus on was the idea of Serpenti as an emblem of transformation and rebirth—in a way the snake sheds its skin to allow for further growth.

“My first idea was to look at what they had done in the world of accessories and create an entire minaudière in the shape of Serpenti. And then I thought, why not show the entire Serpenti as a handle to the puff bag we designed? And then the third story was looking at the Serpenti Forever bags and using them as a canvas to create this artwork of metamorphosis, coiling around the Serpenti clasp. This can be witnessed as the snake morphs into a collection of butterflies, which to me also symbolizes transformation in their own lifecycle. In a way, we have three different chapters that we can really focus on and highlight Serpenti from a completely different angle. Hopefully, they can be worn to their own different occasion.”

Describe the process of designing the collection virtually.

“We had a great time doing it, even though we didn’t actually meet in person. The first visit was to Rome, and then to Florence at the beginning of the project, which was then completed remotely. We have the ‘benefit’ of working during this time and that’s why we were able to create a narrative that was able to unfold on three different chapters, instead of one design, one bag.

“The biggest challenge was the edit, more than the execution. I think it was more trying to detach yourself from all these designs and really see what’s right for Bvlgari. There was a serendipitous moment when I was talking about this idea of metamorphosis, and we discovered that notion was one of the themes that Bvlgari wanted to communicate this year. For me, it was about making sure that storytelling is a part of this collection and is relevant to the environment we live in.

“You don’t have to read into all the layers. I think creatively it’s inspiring to be able to dive deep into the symbolism because it is such a strong icon, but beyond that, it should be about filtered beauty. It should be about a bag that you would love to carry, that you find beautiful and that makes you feel more confident.”

What inspired the prominent metamorphosis theme?

“The collection’s symbolic nature is one that signifies metamorphosis, because a snake sheds its skin through life and goes through a process of rebirth. Bringing those together was almost creating a link. The butterflies being softer, and in many ways a more vulnerable form of femininity, coming in direct contact with the Serpenti—a symbol of strength—creates a nice balance together.

“There is something that highlights this idea of femininity through these symbols that transform throughout [women’s] lives, in a very similar way that we as women transform and go through different stages of evolution.

“And then we had this idea of being able to partner with Natalia Vodianova and her Naked Heart Foundation as an extension of celebrating all women who have gone through different stages of metamorphosis, and also to use this collection to support a charity that does incredible work with children with special needs.”

Serpenti has close ties to Greek and Roman history and culture. Being Greek yourself, was there any cultural influence that you chose to embrace during the design process?

“The collaboration with Bvlgari itself was an opportunity for me to decode symbols that have such strong relevance to both Roman and Greek mythology. I grew up learning those stories, which has always informed my creativity, and to have the opportunity to design with that as inspiration felt very personal and special to me. I didn’t realize until much later in life that their founder, Sotirio Bulgari, actually started in Greece as a silversmith before moving to Rome.”

What did you enjoy most about working on this collaboration?

Working with everyone in the Bvlgari team! The first time I was able to collaborate with them was at my first couture show, which took place at the temple of Poseidon. That’s when we discovered there is a mutual appreciation, and we wanted to explore this collaboration in the world of accessories. It started with me initially falling in love with the high jewellery team, and then we worked really closely with the accessories team. That’s what felt most special to me— the sense of community and this appreciation of craftsmanship and design. It made me feel like creatively we could really push ourselves because we are aligned in terms of the vision and what we are trying to achieve.”