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Lady Splendor: How Bulgari’s Most Dazzling Pieces are Lighting Up Moscow’s Kremlin


Amanda Wellsh photographed by Gian Paolo Barbieri. Image courtesy of Bulgari

A new, must-visit jewelry exhibition in Moscow explores the legacy of one of the most desirable Italian brands and its enduring relationship with extraordinary women.

Known for its magnificent, colorful jewelry that continues to embellish the necks and ears of some of the most glamorous women in the world, Bulgari is no stranger to resplendent exhibitions that highlight its more than 130 years of history and savoir faire. This time, the Roman brand has outdone itself, partnering with the world-acclaimed Moscow Kremlin Museums for a new retrospective, Tribute to Femininity.

Originally printed in the October 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia

“We are ambitious and dreamers, and there is a certain number of museums that we want to work with,”says Lucia Boscaini, Bulgari’s brand and heritage curator. “The Kremlin is probably the first of this caliber we approached. It’s a perfect match for us since it masters an expertise in this field, owning more than 13 200 precious pieces. To us, to have its endorsement and to showcase our Heritage collection in this museum, is priceless.”


Ingrid Bergman wearing Bulgari in The Visit (1964). Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari’s Tribute to Femininity showcases more than 500 jewels, some never seen before, that illustrate the evolution of the brand’s style over the past century. The theme was selected with the help of the Kremlin’s respected general director, Elena Gagarina, who spent several days in Rome visiting the brand’s vast archive and spotting the important emphasis on femininity in its DNA. After the theme was decided, Boscaini and her team started the lengthy task of selecting the pieces that could best illuminate this concept.

“We spent a lot of time looking at images published in fashion and social magazines to understand how women wore our jewelry. What really caught our attention was the most natural and spontaneous style of femininity perfectly embodied by the image from the Seventies that we chose to illustrate the exhibition: it is the picture of a model wearing a very important sautoir in gold with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, but in a very relaxed and non-formal way. All the jewelry that can be seen in the exhibition were worn by this type of woman.”


Jessica Chastain wearing Bulgari. Getty

As you walk through the two rooms where the pieces are organized chronologically, you can sense the stylistic evolution of the brand, from its beginning focusing on diamonds, to the contemporary complex rainbow pieces that feature multiple colored stones. It is also clear that Bulgari has been designing its jewelry to be aligned with the lifestyle of women throughout the different decades – offering flexible pieces that could be worn to dance the Charleston in the 1920s, or more austere creations for the post-war era.

“This important idea that Bulgari walks hand-in-hand with the social changes in the world of women is at the core of the exhibition,” underlines Boscaini. “One of the best examples is the Serpenti Tubogas watch, introduced in 1948. By that time, people were still suffering the scars of the second world war but were willing to move on and recover. Bulgari thought of a watch, not just a piece of jewelry, to reflect this moment. It was a very sober and modern piece, with no gemstones, perfect for women who were joining the workforce and having a social life. They had something modern, fresh, but also pared down, not too show-off. It is truly elegant – and useful, in a proper way.”

talian actor Anna Magnani in Bulgari.

Italian actor Anna Magnani in Bulgari. Image courtesy of Bulgari

One of the standouts of Tribute to Femininity is the section dedicated to some of the best-known actors and aficionadas of the brand: Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani, Anita Ekberg, and Gina Lollobrigida, among others. While visiting the exhibition, it is impossible not to be amazed by the shimmer of the spectacular necklace of massive emeralds and diamonds that Richard Burton presented Taylor with on their first marriage, in 1964.

“We decided to include pieces that were owned by celebrities, not just because they were famous, but because they were strong women. Elizabeth Taylor and Anna Magnani were great performers but, above all, incredible women. Taylor was an amazing connoisseur and she knew exactly what she liked. She could recognize a good emerald from one not so good with her eyes closed,” highlights the curator. “Magnani would also come to our store countless times just to look at the pieces, decide with time, and then she would come back. It was something she really thought about and enjoyed. She loved wearing jewelry for her personal enjoyment, not for others. The self-delight is very Bulgari.”


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, wearing the Sautoir. Image courtesy of Bulgari/Everett Collection

Along with the aforementioned pieces, Tribute to Femininity features other designs that could not be missed in a Bulgari heritage retrospective. The exhibition offers a vast collection of the iconic hybrid of bracelet and watch, Serpenti, and also standout pieces from the mid-60s line Monete, featuring Greek, Roman, and Persian coins of colossal historical value. You don’t want to miss it.

Bulgari Tribute to Femininity is on display at the Moscow Kremlin Museums until January 13

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