The footwear designer has created a capsule collection of the brand's Serpenti Forever bags
The style list: making of a Bulgari handbag, by Nicholas Kirkwood
Nicholas Kirkwood is no stranger to luxury collaborations. In the past, the celebrated British footwear designer has created calf leather loafers for Erdem, bow-embellished velvet pumps for Roksanda and suede Oxfords for Peter Pilotto. Now, for the first time, Kirkwood is applying his signature architectural and graphic design style to a handbag. But not to any old purse: to Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti Forever.
The resultant four-piece capsule collection, which is available in select boutiques from this month, features a sinuous chevron pattern designed to reflect the lithe movements of the serpent, a recurring Bulgari motif since the 1960s. The zigzagging lines are a striking move away from the original bag’s structured shape, and are rendered bolder still for their use of colour: pink spinel, royal sapphire, bright gold and stark monochrome. The richly textured calf leather further evokes the snake’s scales, while an enamelled snakehead clasp glints with gemstone-inspired eyes.
“The serpenti motif has such an interesting design ethos behind it, which is what I love about the collection,” says Kirkwood. “In mythology, the serpent represents sublime perception, transformation, immortality and, best of all, fertility. Who knows what will happen when you wear this handbag?”
Kirkwood also used various types of rubberised studs with faceted ends, which he says reminded him of the “diamond settings and spectacular gemstones [he] saw at the Bulgari high-jewellery atelier”. It was a visit to the atelier last year, where he observed Bulgari’s master craftsmen bringing one-of-a-kind pieces to life, that sparked the collaboration in the first place.
This was followed by Bulgari’s SerpentiForm exhibition in the Museum of Rome, where Kirkwood was able to appreciate how the snake motif has inspired a number of artists, sculptors, filmmakers and photographers through the ages. Apparently, he also realised that the house’s aesthetic was perfectly in keeping with his own penchant for boldness, and for blending unconventional colours, patterns and materials together. The ornamentation on the Serpenti Forever capsule collection, for instance, is a seemingly erratic combination of flat, round and pyramidal studs, both varnished and matte. The sleek clasp, too, gets an update – interpreted as it is in a two-tone palette.
The limited-edition bags are available in four styles: a backpack, shoulder bag, wallet and an envelope clutch. Kirkwood has said that this first foray into designing bags felt like a natural move for him, and he hopes to offer more than footwear from his eponymous brand in the future. The collection is currently available at select Bulgari boutiques around the world including those in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.