The boys are back in town.
Amedeo Scognamiglio and Roberto Faraone Mennella, known for their cheeky and whimsical take on cameos and their classic cabochon-rich gold jewelry, opened their first Faraone Mennella flagship in New York last week, 13 years after they brought their business to Manhattan. Simultaneously, the duo relocated their eight-year-old Amedeo store, housed nearby on the same stretch of Lexington Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets. In doing so, the designers replicated the concept of their stores in Capri, where they are known as much for the La Dolce Vita-esque jet-set lifestyle they lead as they are for the jewelry they make.
Located at 958 Lexington Avenue, the Faraone Mennella store follows the design code of the two-year-old Capri store. Pale gray walls with white crown moldings, an 1820s antique Italian chandelier, and a handmade wrought-iron and marble desk that Faraone designed all set the visual mood, while Italian divas from the Fifties and Sixties, chosen by Scognamiglio, croon through the speakers.
The duo intended for the boutique to be the neighborhood jewelry store. “We see the 10021 ladies dropping off their dry cleaning, having a coffee at Corrado or picking up some flowers and we want them to stop in and have a look,” said Scognamiglio. And presumably shop. Case in point, while WWD was interviewing the designers, former Town & Country editor in chief and 10021 resident Pamela Fiori happened by and stopped to say hello. (“Pamela is our lucky charm. She was the first editor to see and support our jewelry,” Scognamiglio said with pride).
He noted that Lexington was “the perfect location, because the ladies who built our business the last 12 years live here and now they can shop in their neighborhood.” Along with the brand’s bold, gold-based jewelry, this store will show the full range of Faraone Mennella product, which includes scarves, belts and totes, until now only available at the London and Capri stores. “Having a store on the Upper East Side allows us to show the brand from A to Z,” Mennella said.
Just down the block, the Amedeo store got a new address — 946 — and a new look that’s more neutral and masculine than in Capri. Dark-paneled walls and floors, marble-tile walls and recessed vitrines, and a “floating” shelf give the cameo jewelry display a museumlike quality. A black-and-white photo of a male model sporting the jewelry and a skull mosaic created from tiny cameos made by Scognamiglio serve as the sole wall decor. The cameos, which are at a more attainable pricepoint, ranging from an average of $1,500 for a ring to $8,000 for statement necklace, have been added to more men’s product. The partners plan their first ad campaign for Amedeo with New York socialite Michelle Harper, which will start running in March, and they will show a separate men’s line for the first time at Pitti Uomo in June.
“I always say that my client doesn’t buy jewelry when they buy Amedeo,” said Scognamiglio. “They aren’t looking for jewelry, they stumble upon a monkey or skull cameo and say, ‘Oh, wow, I must buy that.’ It’s about the craftsmanship, the novelty and the whimsical, humorous aspect of the cameos.”
The store openings are not the only thing keeping the pair busy; their Roberto by RFM costume jewelry line for HSN sold 25,000 pieces of a bracelet style in the first eight hours during its launch a year ago. The line will launch internationally on QVC in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom and The Shopping Channel in Canada, starting in February and running through spring. Mennella’s philosophy on the much-lower-priced jewelry: “If you don’t want someone to copy you, copy yourself.”
Scognamiglio and Mennella are quite proud that they are privately owned, funded without investors and have managed to open six locations in three years. They’ve already found a spot for their next store, which will be in Saint-Tropez. As Mennella noted, “We don’t spend so much time [planning our] news, we make it; we open stores. We have the courage to do it.”