Gucci has unveiled its second high jewelry and watch collection in a dream-like presentation befitting the pieces. Named Hortus Deliciarum (meaning “garden of delights” in Latin), the 130-strong collection is dedicated to Mother Nature, described as Gucci’s “ultimate muse.” It features totemic symbols of nature such as animals, skies, stars, bows, and flowers, which are known to be icons of the Italian house, and divided into four chapters, designed by creative director Alessandro Michele.
The collection is being presented at the mid-19th-century, neoclassical residence Villa Pallavicino in resort town of Stresa, Italy from June 20 to 26. Its 18-hectare parkland, Parco Pallavicino, was transformed from a garden to a wildlife museum open to the public in 1962 by the Genoese Pallavicino family. Today, the sanctuary is home to over 50 species of mammals and birds, such as zebras, kangaroos, coatis, and flamingos.
Inside the villa, some of the pieces are displayed in rustic, life-sized open cages adorned with fresh green vines. Glimmering in the light of the chandelier, they appear to float mid-air. The most expensive and defining piece in the collection gathers singular and striking solitaires, and the vibrant colors of the sky and landscape are revived with pavé-set colored gemstones, containing Afghani mint tourmaline, sunset-pink rubellite, velvety violet tanzanites, light orange sapphires, blushed-rose topaz, and mandarin garnet. Coiled rings, either serpentine or geometrically linear, have a central stone, such as a 60-carat rubellite, a heart-shaped mandarin garnet, or a 16-carat Paraiba tourmaline.
The first chapter of the collection is an ode to monumental landscapes, such as waterfalls and windblown forestry, materializing the great outdoors with ethereal jewels; cascading diamonds recreate the copious torrents of a waterfall. The collection also recovers the 18th-century technique of en tremblant (which literally translates to “to tremble” in French) that creates delicate movement when worn, allowing the bejeweled Victorian leaves and stars to evoke the shakiness of aspens and shooting meteors.
Since the fashion house’s inception in Florence, Italy, a century ago in 1921, Michele has harbingered fringed and tasseled necklaces and chandelier earrings from the Roaring Twenties in a modern context, with violet and plum-colored spinels mingling with dangling drops of diamonds, while rare Paraiba tourmalines call to mind the eternal cerulean of ocean waves. The collection’s necklaces gasconade a spinel-dotted eruption of diamonds, resembling the flaming beauty of the northern lights, and a 6.13-carat emerald resembling a springtime leaf, set in a constellation of diamond stars.
The second chapter is stimulated by the fleeting colors of a sunset sky transitioning to nightfall, with opals and topazes sitting alongside spessartine garnets and tourmalines on a Georgiana collet-set Rivière necklace, ultimately plunging into an 8-carat opal set with twilight-hued gemstones. Michele described this construction as “discordant symmetry,” slightly mismatched to channel the concept of a sunset.
Meanwhile, the third chapter is dedicated to notions of renewal and love found in a botanical rose garden, characterized by rococo bows, drawing from the theatrical style of architecture, and sautoirs. Each gemstone has a light color, like the pinkish-orange Padparadscha sapphire materializing a rose petal on the verge of blooming, or the deep, saturated night-sky indigo of the indicolites. Some necklaces have detachable pendants that can function as auspicious charms, and the dazzling array of brooches allow the wearer to create a bouquet of jewels wreathing the lower neckline.
The fourth chapter explores the animal kingdom; the emblematic strength of the lion, the passion of the tiger and the transcendental power of Dionysus, the “nature” god of fruitfulness and vegetation. Sky-blue tanzanites are ubiquitous here, clasped by roaring lion heads, one of Michele’s house symbols, and complemented with serpentine opals and verdant tsavorites. In a collier-style necklace, a 16.36-carat opal is surrounded by a pride of 22 leonine figures. Yellow gold is introduced as a new motif for Gucci, highlighted by sunny yellow beryls. Each animal is also surrounded by nature as symbolic flowers, leaves and stars come to life in diamond settings and hidden engravings.