PARIS — Lapo Elkann, who made carbon fiber an eyewear sector staple, is now bringing the material to people’s wrists and necks, too.
The Fiat scion and founder of the Italia Independent lifestyle brand has collaborated with French jeweler Dinh Van on a range of bracelets and pendants that will go on sale at Colette here on Today and then roll out worldwide in early April.
“It’s one of the lightest and toughest materials in the world and, at the same time, it’s sexy and groovy,” said Elkann, dressed in a mint green sweater and slacks and brandishing two of the cuffs on his tattooed forearms. “It’s rock ’n’ roll, but it’s also very discreet.”
Dinh Van asked Elkann to revisit its unisex Chinese Pi range, first introduced in the Eighties. Elkann, who can be seen tooling around Paris in his matte black Maserati, took an antibling approach to his first jewelry designs, studding the velvety, light-sucking carbon with black diamonds.
Retail prices range from 270 euros, or about $365 at current exchange, for a cord bracelet with a diamond-centered disc up to 1,000 euros, or $1,350, for a large, limited edition pendant.
“These are objects with character,” he said. “It’s the beginning of a collaboration I hope will last.”
Asked who might wear such unusual jewelry, Elkann rattled off a range of high-profile types: Tom Ford, David Beckham, Kobe Bryant, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Asia Argento.
He also expects interest from the elite sailing world, familiar with the virtues of carbon fiber. Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini, for example, recently coaxed a cuff right off Elkann’s wrist.
Weightless yet indestructible, the pieces were about 18 months in development, and are manufactured in France and Italy.
Founded in 1965 by Jean Dinh Van, who started his jewelry career at Cartier, Dinh Van today counts nine freestanding stores in France, three in Switzerland and two in Belgium. It also has about 80 wholesale accounts internationally, including Isetan in Japan and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Elkann continues to expand his design universe. Next month, he’ll travel to Japan to unveil an Alfa Romeo Brera car with a carbon dashboard, and then to Milan to introduce a range of furniture in collaboration with Italian design legend Gaetano Pesce.
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