As one of Sotheby's 2019 White Baaz, she represents the epitome of effortless glamour and style, and ahead of Geneva's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction, she tells us about her style journey, designing couture and picks her highlights from the upcoming sale.
Sotheby's White Baaz are brought together by their glamour, ambition and effortless style. What does it mean to you to be a part of a group of such distinguished women?
To be part of this group of women is very stimulating as we all share the same passions and obsessions – specifically, jewelry, of course! All the White Baaz women are interested in the design aspect of a jewel. Of course the stones set within a jewel are very important, but all of us, and me specifically, love to look at how a piece has been designed, the inspiration behind it, who wore it and when. That’s why working with the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioelleria is a dream for me. Each jewel is considered a piece of art, inspired by an endless source of Italian dreams for the sophisticated and discerning woman.
Who is your style inspiration?
My style inspiration is my grandmother, Cristiana Brandolini D’Adda. I spent a lot of time with her during my childhood and still do today. She influenced me to look at things not in an obvious way, but to always look for something special, something out of the ordinary. She had a magical way of mixing things together not only with her choice of fashion, but also with her jewelry and her homes. For example, she wears a bracelet that is extremely precious together with a bracelet she found at a flea market. She is never judgmental even though she has the absolute best taste.
How would you describe your own personal style and how has it changed over the years?
My personal style is quite eclectic. I mix lots of things, never wearing a singular look, but I like my style to be feminine and comfortable. I will always look at the fabrics and textiles of every garment, and nothing makes happier than quality, manufacturing and research behind each piece. Over the years, my style has evolved; I have been influenced these past years by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. By working with them closely I am even more aware of the importance of quality and the choice of fabrics. I also became more conscious of wearing ‘Woman’s’ clothing with a big ‘W’. I have become much more interested in jewelry in the last 10 years…I do think appreciating beautiful jewelry comes with various experiences in life; some moments are related emotionally to a certain piece which stays with you forever.
Do you relish opportunities to dress up formally, in couture and fine jewels? Are there any favourite looks that spring to mind?
I love and can’t wait to wear Alta Moda every chance I get! I don’t know about any other couture houses as I have never worn them. But with Alta Moda, nothing makes me feel more beautiful and confident, and I love that only one of every design exists in the world; you will never find anyone else dressed in the same way. I think this idea is very similar to when you wear a special piece of jewelry. Three of my favourite looks are shown in the pictures here; I love the simplicity of the black lace dress that fits perfectly. The Lesage embroidered dress is a piece of art! And I love it with the cross earrings.
Do you have any signature pieces of jewellery or do you mix and match according to the occasion?
Yes, I have some jewelry of my grandmother that I wear a lot, especially a ring that I wear every day on my small finger; it’s a gold infinity ring. I mix it with my favorite coral earrings from Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioelleria.
Do you have any special pieces of jewellery that you've inherited?
My mom gave me a beautiful sapphire ring that belonged to her mother when I got married. It’s stunning and I wear it on special occasions. My grandmother gave me a beautiful Marina B necklace recently. I love to wear jewelry that belonged to my family.
Do you think knowing the history of vintage pieces enhances them?
Yes, I agree that knowing the history of jewels enhances them. I think jewelry can be nostalgic, in a positive way, as it transcends time, making generations of women in a family happy. A beautiful piece of jewelry lives many lives, and I think it’s so fun and interesting to know about it and that gives all the more value to it.
What are some of your earliest memories of appreciating beautiful clothes or jewellery?
My earliest memories of appreciating clothing come from both my mother and grandmother. My mom worked in fashion for years, so was always surrounded by beautiful clothing; from very early on, I understood how clothing can express your personality. My mom loves to wear beautiful pantsuits and is always relaxed as she wants to be comfortable. My grandmother is more daring and likes to have fun with clothing, mixing and matching pieces. She has a great eye and was one of the first women to wear Madame Grès, for example. She loves colours and prints. Both these women influenced me and reflect my style today. I began appreciating jewelry for the first time when I saw an exhibition on Indian jewelry at the V&A museum. It was a long time ago, but I remember being blown away by the craftsmanship and its strong decorative aesthetic.
What style lessons would you like to pass down to your own children?
Style lessons to my children! I think my girls already have their own style and love to try on my clothing too! I won’t give them any lessons about style but let them be free to find their way, as I really believe dressing is an expression of your own personality; they can draw influence from myself and other women in their lives, but it is important they learn to do that themselves, without forcing anything on them. The only thing I will tell them when they are older is that you must dress to make yourself happy, not anyone else.
You didn't take a traditional path into the fashion industry, studying political science and philosophy at university. Where did you initially see your career heading and how did fashion draw you in?
Yes, indeed I didn’t take a traditional path into the fashion industry. In university I didn’t think I would work in fashion, so studied philosophy and political science. But then I did an internship at Oscar de la Renta in New York City and it ended up being a job that lasted for 5 years! It changed my life, because I moved to New York and it was wonderful, but especially, it made me understand that fashion and clothing was the only career path for me! I became really interested in researching fabrics and the rest is history…
What are some of the most important lessons you've learnt working with renowned names in fashion?
I have learnt a lot of lessons over the years from working in the industry. Oscar taught me the importance of craftmanship, and that became even more clear to me when I started working at Dolce & Gabbana. Alta Moda’s craftmanship is superior; the attention to detail is immaculate. Every piece that comes out of the atelier is the epitome of perfection in its fit and construction. That is the same for Alta Gioelleria – the pieces that Domenico and Stefano dream of are all original, and to watch them come to life is amazing to see. What I have learned, is that almost everything is possible if you do it with joy and enthusiasm. And I think it really becomes apparent when you look at pieces from Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioelleria and Alta Moda.
What do you love about designing couture specifically?
The best part of working on couture is that as they are unique pieces, you are very free. This freedom is the biggest luxury you can have, and I feel very lucky for that. You can choose the most beautiful fabrics and hand paint flowers on them. You can do unbelievable embroideries that you would think not possible, but in fact they are; and when they arrive you can’t believe your eyes! And for Domenico and Stefano, working on Alta Moda allows them to express their dreams.
What do you surround yourself with to find inspiration?
To find inspiration the best source is books, books, books! Here in the office we have a great library with so many books from all over the world and that is a constant source of inspiration. Travelling is also a wonderful source of inspiration that never ends. With Domenico and Stefano, I have learned that anything can inspire and never put up boundaries; there are no limits to creativity.
What characteristics do you value most in other people, and in your collaborators?
The characteristics that I value most in other people and in those I collaborate with are loyalty, an open mind and curiosity.
What projects do you have lined up for this year?
This year we have Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria and Alta Gioelleria shows in Agrigento, Sicily. I am so thrilled to be a part of them, as once again we will showcase the beauty and richness of Italy.