When Barneys’ creative team went to Rome a few months ago to meet with the Bulgari team and tour the Roman Maison’s flagship, they were blown away by how rich the company’s heritage was. “The store in Rome is one of the most exquisite spaces that I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not just a store!” explains Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman, who was so smitten with both the brand’s DNA and the emblematic Serpenti Collection that the meeting resulted in the seeds of an exciting exclusive collaboration.
Cut to a few months later: the Bulgari’s Serpenti Collection has landed at Barneys, and along with it, an exclusive, custom, handcrafted Bulgari tree installation that transforms the first floor of Barneys Madison Avenue into a breathtaking Garden of Bulgari. The large-scale tree was inspired by an installation Bulgari first showcased during BaselWorld 2016, but it was reimagined and customized through months of collaboration between Barneys and Bulgari.
The Serpenti Collection is focused around a sleek interpretation of the Bulgari’s snakehead motif and beautifully bridges its heritage with contemporary design. Bulgari first made the snake a signature in the 1960s, embracing it as a symbol of beauty, strength, and rebirth—as well as undeniable seductiveness. There are few better examples of its La Dolce Vita roots than Elizabeth Taylor, who wore her Bulgari snake bracelet throughout the promotion of her 1963 film Cleopatra. Elizabeth loved the brand so much that Richard Burton famously noted, “The only Italian word Elizabeth knows is Bulgari!” One of Freedman’s favorite parts of the flagship tour in Rome was seeing the secret door the lovers would use to enter the store for romantic shopping trips to avoid the paparazzi.
The Serpenti collection includes handbags, watches, and jewelry in the Roman Maison’s signature bold color palette, which pop like forbidden fruit as they are displayed among the alluring structure of the tree. The trunk and branches are made from hand-treated metal, while the leaves are made from custom silk in the brand’s signature saffron color on . Iridescent, delicately layered hexagons form the brances and mimic the scales of the snake. The overall effect is a radiating gold that feels alive and allows the exquisite jewelry and accessories to shine.
While the process of creating the custom tree was a total collaboration, Freedman notes that Bulgari offered a unique special touch that made the project especially fun. “Everything Bulgari does, including this tree, is on the level of fine jewelry—executed in the most immaculate, artisanal way.”
Watch below an exclusive video on the making of the Bulgari tree for Barneys New York.
The Bulgari tree will be on display at Barneys Madison Avenue Wednesday June 8, 2015, through July 31st. The Serpenti Collection is exclusively available in-store.