After taking over as artistic director of her family’s renowned jewelry house at the mere age of twenty-three, Gaia Repossi has already distinguished herself as an artist to watch. At work, she has collaborated with rising talents like Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang, and at play, she is regarded as a style icon whose chic minimalism transmits her quiet confidence.
We recently caught up with Ms. Repossi as she and friend Giovanna Battaglia made the annual pilgrimage to this year’s Venice Biennale. Despite her hectic schedule, the young designer was more than happy to talk minimalism, Picasso and convention-defying rings.
Barneys New York: You come from a long line of jewelers. Do you think the craft has evolved since Repossi was founded in 1920?
Gaia Repossi: Jewelry is not evolving enough. We’re too fixated on diamonds and the value they represent. I think boundaries have to be broken. The industry needs new shapes, new obsessive silhouettes that everyone would wear, like tribal silhouettes.
BNY: Tell us a little bit about your new jewelry line for Barneys.
GR: It’s a selection of items that I thought would work well for a modern store like Barneys. It includes some of the collaborations I’ve done with young designers, like the piece I did with Alexander Wang.
BNY: If you could be the official jeweler to one notable person, who would it be?
GR: I would have loved to work for Picasso or Yves Saint Laurent.
BNY: What are your favorite pieces to wear?
GR: My all-over the finger rings: from the Berbere collection, the Alexander Wang collection, and the Maure collection. The all-over the finger pieces come from binding two rings so that they run the length of the entire finger. Sometimes I wear my massive cuffs, but never too much at a time. I don’t like mixing.
BNY: You’re almost always spotted in elegant, minimalist looks. What’s your fashion philosophy?
GR: I think silhouettes should be sharp and simple so the eyes and spirit come out. I like basics and menswear references, and I like to lighten classic looks with unexpected items.
BNY: Are there any items you can’t live without?
GR: Men’s shirts and jackets, black cigarette tuxedo pants, simple pumps or flat suede booties.
BNY: Which designers are you gravitating to now?
GR: Phoebe Philo’s work for Céline is sharp, different, and unexpected. Alexander Wang channels fierce, androgynous women from another planet. I love Riccardo Tisci’s imaginary religious silhouettes, and Joseph Altuzarra’s feline forms on the catwalk.
BNY: Did you always know you would go into the family business?
GR: I always wanted to be an artist. I still paint, but sometimes life has unexpected endings.
- Interviewed by Tory Hoen
Main photo by Karl Lagerfeld