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Bulgari supports Italian fashion ties with exhibit at London museum

March 5, 2014


Italian jeweler Bulgari is strengthening its relationship with the fashion industry by sponsoring The Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibit April 5 through July 27 at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Although a main sponsor, Bulgari is promoting its involvement with the museum exhibit on its London hotel and residence property’s Facebook account. Instead of seeming pushy, Bulgari’s use of its hotel to promote the exhibit may persuade guests and enthusiasts to book a stay.

"Bulgari's choice to sponsor this exhibition helps renew this brand's view of luxury as culture," said Manfredi Ricca, managing director of Interbrand, Milan. "Since its inception almost 130 years ago, the essence of this brand has been about bold creativity, daring expression and flawless execution.

"The jeweler's sponsorship of an exhibit featuring some of the most desired Italian brands, which in some cases have minor competitive overlaps with Bulgari, elevates the latter's position to a super partes status," he said.

"Bulgari is not new to showcasing its heritage in the context of the history of the past decades. Its 125th anniversary a few years ago was celebrated through a highly successful retrospective which travelled across a number of cities worldwide."

Mr. Ricca is not affiliated with Bulgari, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Bulgari was unable to comment directly before press deadline.

Glitz and glamour
Held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, The Glamour of Italian Fashion will showcase Italy’s rise in the fashion industry after World War II. The exhibit will examine Italian fashions from 1945 to present day with defining moments such as the 1950s Sala Bianca catwalk shows held in Florence on display.

Sala Bianca catwalk show, Florence, 1955

During the 1950s and ‘60s film stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor became style ambassadors of Italian fashions as many Hollywood movies were filmed on location in Italy. Similar to today’s Hollywood stars, the public became enthralled with the Italian fashions worn by the starlets, further propelling the “Made in Italy” insignia.

Bulgari will have on display heritage jewels once owned by Ms. Taylor that are rarely available for public viewing. On display will be Ms. Taylor’s necklace, brooch and ring with emeralds and diamonds set in platinum.

Bulgari necklace on exhibit, once owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor

It was said by Ms. Taylor’s husband and actor Richard Burton that “the only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari.” Although a quippy anecdote, it demonstrates the connection between Bulgari and the fashion industry that was brought into the lives of consumers via Hollywood film.

The post-war time period examined by the exhibit parallels Bulgari’s own time of innovation and creativity, bringing a “bold and youthful spirit to jewelry design,” according to a statement given by Julie Ann Morrison, managing director of Bulgari UK Limited, London. Like fashion, Bulgari’s designs during the post-war period allowed for “sheer confidence in the new woman to wear Bulgari jewels for her pleasure,” Ms. Morrison said.

Curated by Sonnet Stanfill, the exhibit will have approximately 100 outfits and accessories designed by Italy’s premier fashion houses. On exhibit will be pieces from the archives of Simonetta, Pucci, Sorelle Fontana, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada and Versace, as well as some of Italy’s up-and-coming talents.

Victoria & Albert Museum Web site for The Glamour of Italian Fashion

In addition to the exhibit, a series of talks and hands-on workshops will be held in the space to further explore Italian fashion.

Scheduled throughout the exhibit's duration, talks will be held by Angela Missoni, creative director of Missoni, and designers Giambattista Valli and Roberto Cavalli.

The jeweler will also hold a special event March 10 to celebrate its 130th anniversary and its Italian style. Hosted by jewelry historian Amanda Triossi and Ms. Stanfill, the pair will discuss the role of Bulgari in Italian style and the jeweler’s unique character.

Bulgari Hotel & Residences, London, has promoted the exhibit with a Facebook post that gives a brief description of the exhibit along with where to purchase tickets. By recommending local activities for its guests, Bulgari increases loyalty and will likely see return visitors look for a curated experience.

Checked in
The jeweler has used its hotel properties to promote special events and generate stays in its home cities.

For instance, Bulgari’s hotel and resorts in Milan anticipated an influx of fashion-forward guests during the city’s annual Fashion Week with a special offer.

By organizing a special offer dedicated to all things fashion, Bulgari highlighted its associations to the fashion world. Guests who may have been unfamiliar with the jeweler’s lifestyle or unaware of its hotel properties were introduced through exclusive experiences likely to create repeat guests (see story).

Promoting concierge services on social media helps consumers plan their trip and determine where to stay.

For example, Trump Hotel SoHo, New York, leveraged the knowledge of its concierge team with weekly local insights on the hotel’s Facebook page to remind guests of this valuable in-house resource.

The “Concierge Corner with Eric” featured a range of themes and offers suggestions on places to dine, choice cocktails and activities to engage in. Visibly incorporating the concierge team in social media interactions can help provide guests with hotel-inspired suggestions (see story).

This exhibit will allow Bulgari to tell its history, but in a larger context.

"By celebrating its brand as the protagonist or the facilitator of exhibits, Bulgari is restating its business as the expression of a culture, which in turn is rooted in the Mediterranean," Mr. Ricca said.

"Not only because the Greek origins of the founder, Sotirio Bulgari, but most importantly because of the way in which so many of Bulgari's creations reinterpret themes and motifs from the pinnacles of the Greek and Roman civilizations," he said.

"This is why Bulgari implicitly tells us to look not just at the history in the brand, but at the brand in history."

Final Take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York