PARIS — The Serpenti handbag is getting a sporty touch.
Bulgari has joined forces with French brand Casablanca on a capsule collection including several styles inspired by the world of tennis. It marks the first time the Rome-based jeweler has used wood in its handbag designs, and chimes with a desire to make the Serpenti more suitable for everyday use.
“We wanted to bring something new to the world of Bulgari,” Casablanca designer Charaf Tajer told WWD. “Nobody has ever associated Bulgari and tennis and I think it’s really modern, without challenging the codes of the brand or breaking with the past.”
The collection, to be released in selected Bulgari stores worldwide in two installments, marks the latest chapter of the “Serpenti Through the Eyes Of” project, launched in 2017, which has seen the Italian brand collaborate with designers including Nicholas Kirkwood, Mary Katrantzou and Ambush’s Yoon Ahn.
The tie-up with Casablanca, unveiled during Paris Fashion Week, comes as Bulgari expands its presence in the French capital. The brand last year opened its refurbished flagship on Place Vendôme, the epicenter of high jewelry worldwide, as well as a luxury hotel in the city’s Golden Triangle that includes a boutique.
“This year, there will be a lot of things happening in Paris for Bulgari, so I think it’s a nice coincidence,” said Mireia Lopez Montoya, managing director of leather goods and accessories at Bulgari.
One of the shared winners of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers in 2020, Casablanca is known for its silk shirts in hand-painted patterns, and retro-style terry cloth tracksuits inspired by vintage tennis gear.
“We really liked that he does actually take classics and tries to interpret them in a really modern and young way. Plus, we like the fact that he’s very colorful,” Montoya said. “We thought he brought in a very young and fresh take on the icon.”
The project marks Casablanca’s first collaboration with a luxury brand and only its second overall, following its partnership with New Balance on sneakers. Tajer, whose ambition is to position Casablanca among the apex of French luxury brands, said he was purposely selective with collaborations.
“We aspire to be one of those big brands in the future, so to be associated with LVMH through the LVMH Prize, but now also with Bulgari, positions us at a certain level and for us, it’s a stylistic exercise that reflects where we want to go,” he said.
The seven-piece capsule collection is divided into two chapters: the Après Tennis Story, launching on April 20, and the Mosaic Story, available from May 20, which takes its inspiration from the classic architecture of Rome.
The first drop includes a Serpenti Forever handbag in white perforated leather with green accents, which has a detachable wood handle inspired by a tennis racket. There is also a zip-top style inspired by a Bulgari jewelry box from the 1920s, and a tote bag that Tajer teased in the video for his fall 2022 collection.
The second installment features a decorative motif that is printed in a raised texture on the Serpenti Forever bag, and also appears on a tote bag and the new Serpenti Crossbody style, a compact and flat bag with a thick leather strap.
“The Serpenti world has evolved,” noted Montoya. “We talked about the concept of de-formalizing Serpenti, because for us, Serpenti is for every occasion, and in the last collections, we have really made a lot of effort to communicate that also with the product, so they are easier to wear.”
The executive noted that Bulgari makes around 80 percent of its sales from new clients. “It’s not very different for collaborations, to be honest, so there are about maybe 25 percent of clients that are repeaters, that have either collected the other collaborations or are simply lovers of Bulgari, and almost three-fourths are really new, so it’s really a nice recruiting tool as well for us,” she said.
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