American Marketer


Bulgari asks college designers to reinvent house codes

February 5, 2015

Bulgari Central Saint Martins 185 Winning design from Central Saint Martins graduate Connie Lim


Italian jeweler Bulgari is supporting young creatives with a competition with London design college Central Saint Martins.

Three graduates were chosen to create handbag designs, and were given the opportunity to visit the brand’s atelier to fashion a prototype. This further solidifies the ties between Bulgari’s parent company LVMH and the school, providing a link to young aspiring designers in a time when brands find it difficult to locate key talent.

New spin
Bulgari picked Anita Hirlekar, who was part of the graduate program; Natasha Somerville, who achieved a BA in fashion; and Connie Lim, an alumna with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and marketing.

The three grads were each tasked with reinterpreting a single Bulgari code—Serpenti, Monete or Bvlgari Bvlgari. During the six-week process, the designers traveled to the brand’s workshop in Italy and worked with artisans on a 3D mockup of their handbag.


Natasha Somerville's design

Both Ms. Lim and Ms. Somerville were chosen as winners, and Bulgari will continue to develop the prototype bags. Ms. Lim’s is being used during the brand’s 40th anniversary celebration.

LVMH has sponsored Central Saint Martins since 2011. Three graduates currently work as creative directors within the conglomerate, and Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Thomas Pink have held design competitions for students from the school.

These types of initiatives allow a brand to interact with young designers, easing the process of finding talent to fill roles.

Luxury brands struggle to find and recruit the top talent for positions across their companies, according to a study from Boston Consulting Group.

Having the right employees can have a measured impact on a brand’s profits and economic growth, especially in executive and leading creative roles. Because of this luxury brands may need to rethink their existing recruiting strategy to locate the personnel necessary (see story).