It was fall 2001, and Amedeo Scognamiglio was still kicking himself for losing Sarah Jessica Parker’s number a few weeks prior. The actress tracked him down after receiving a cameo pin from his 154-year-old family-owned company, M+M Scognamiglio, while in Hawaii with husband Matthew Broderick, and personally phoned him to say she was wearing it during an interview with Barbara Walters.
Nearly a month after Parker’s famous phone call, Scognamiglio and business partner Roberto Faraone Mennella were scouting office space for their fledgling fine jewelry line, Faraone Mennella — and waiting for a signal that they should sign a lease for an office on East 64th and Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that was way above their means.
The co-founders of what’s now known as RFMAS Group Inc. — the umbrella company of Faraone Mennella; contemporary-priced Amedeo (a reincarnation of Scognamiglio’s family cameo business, which launched in 2006), and L’Una, an approachably priced silver collection sold at Henri Bendel, HSN and Gilt Groupe — got their sign. The whole block ahead of them was closed off for the shooting of an episode of “Sex and the City.”
Scognamiglio mustered up the courage to approach the trailers and seek out costume designer Patricia Field and explain who he was and that he had misplaced Parker’s contact information.
“Pat came out wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigarette and said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re the cameo boy.’ She had me and Roberto go get all of our new pieces — at midnight — and she shot them all,” Scognamiglio recounted to WWD at the “10 Years, 10 Muses, 10 Portraits” photo shoot at Jack’s Studio here, celebrating the brand’s decade in the industry.
Field was one of the “muses” being photographed at that shoot, where she joined Olivia Chantecaille, Pamela Fiori, Nina Griscom, Ann Caruso, Kimberly Skeen-Jones, Carol Alt, Giovanna Battaglia and Linda Fargo. A 10th woman was photographed but the duo is keeping her identity under wraps. They were all being photographed by Lorenzo Bringheli, who shot the brand’s first ad campaign in 2001. Scognamiglio and Faraone Mennella will host a “proper exhibition” next month to celebrate the anniversary and showcase Bringheli’s portraits.
Following the collection’s presence in season four of “Sex and the City,” the partners said “word got out” and Neiman Marcus contacted them, becoming the first store to carry the line in three of its doors, in Beverly Hills, Dallas and Chicago. Bergdorf Goodman followed shortly thereafter.
Now, a decade later, the Faraone Mennella collection is carried in nearly 80 doors worldwide, a freestanding store opened in London last year and another will open in Capri in March. A Web site launches today with e-commerce capabilities that Scognamiglio projects will bring in $500,000 in sales in the first six months.
“We’re breaking ground in Capri next month,” Scognamiglio said, adding that he and Faraone Mennella are childhood friends who grew up in Torre del Greco, Italy, a small town near Naples. “It’s a coming back to the brand’s original DNA. The inspiration was always Capri and ‘la dolce vita.’ ”
Faraone Mennella’s business is evenly divided between its signature and couture lines. The signature collection comprises mostly 18-karat gold and diamond bangles, chains and hoops that range from $1,000 for a pair of hoops to $10,000 for a long, gold chainlink necklace with diamonds. The one-of-a-kind, couture label is built around diamonds and precious gems including rubies, emeralds, aquamarines, tourmaline and mandarin garnets. An elaborate, made-to-order diamond, aquamarine and white gold collar costs $206,000, while green tourmaline and diamond earrings sell for $16,000 and a yellow and a white gold, bi-color quartz and diamond Cleopatra necklace retails for $28,000.
“The couture collection has really helped push our company to the next level. Everything is made in-house at our studio on Fifth Avenue, from design, to model making, to manufacturing,” Scognamiglio said, toying with the clasp of another diamond and aquamarine necklace, placing it around Chantecaille’s neck.
“We met at a dinner party at Bergdorf Goodman in 2004 for the Save Venice charity, and it’s been a mad love affair ever since,” Chantecaille interjected. “They consistently come out with what I’m craving.” She pointed out her custom-made engagement ring and wedding band that were created by the duo for her 2009 nuptials to Ren Grady.
For Scognamiglio and Faraone Mennella, who’ve already established themselves as a force in fine jewelry, the next 10 years will focus on opening more freestanding stores and continuing to grow the existing high jewelry collection and the Amedeo and L’una lines.
“We enjoy the process of creating high jewelry, and there is a clear demand from ‘couture’ clients all over the world,” said Scognamiglio. “Therefore, the next 10 years will see Faraone Mennella as a superluxury artisanal brand, and it is only natural to envision our growth through the opening of more Faraone Mennella boutiques after London and Capri, in key markets like Paris and Hong Kong starting from New York.”
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