A MOMENT WITH... Nicholas Kirkwood
Text by |
(From left) nappa leather Serpenti Forever by Nicholas Kirkwood shoulder bag with studs; calfskin leather Serpenti Forever by Nicholas Kirkwood shoulder bag with studs; and calfskin leather Serpenti Forever by Nicholas Kirkwood shoulder bag with studs
Calfskin leather Serpenti Forever by Nicholas Kirkwood envelope clutch, shoulder bag, and backpack with studs
Calfskin leather Serpenti Forever by Nicholas Kirkwood shoulder bags with studs

He has made the most exquisite footwear in the world -- including shoes for those winged lingerie models to strut down the runway in. Now, the renowned English shoemaker is putting one more feather in his cap -- that of an accessories collection with verteran jeweller and luxury accessories maker Bulgari.


MANIFESTO: Where did you start with your ideas and inspirations for this collaboration?

NK: “My starting point for the design inspiration of this collection came from my inaugural visit to the Bulgari jewellery atelier in Rome where the one-off high jewellery pieces are made. I was amazed at how bespoke and personal Bulgari’s jewellery craftsmanship is. Each piece of jewellery is made in an entire unique way in respect to the stones being used in it. The pieces are essentially crafted round the stones; the stones themselves dictate the look of the finished piece, rather than the other way around. One of the stories I most liked is that a craftsman told me that when making a symmetrical piece he sometimes waits up to 6 months to find a matching stone. That level of attention to detail was really where I began with my thinking and desire to develop an almost organic design process for this collection.

"I then visited an interesting exhibition called Serpenti Form in Rome. Bulgari had masterminded and curated this very creative experience all about the snake (or serpent) motif and how it had been interpreted by and inspirational to a plethora of different – contemporary and ancient – artists, sculptors, fashion designers, film makers and photographers. A lot of the artists included in the exhibition such as Keith Haring, Matt Collishaw and Alexander Calder are people whose work has been of interest to me and inspired my designs since the inception of my brand. This gave me a great insight in to the history and possibilities of this classic Bulgari brand insignia.

"I also spent a lot of time looking at the Assouline ‘Serpenti Collection’ book, I love Assouline books as a rule anyway, as they are great at showcasing a brand’s codes in a very celebratory but subtle and beautiful way. The drawings and pictures in that book are something I referred to throughout the whole of my design process on this collection.”

M: What was your next step?

NK: “Once I had immersed myself into the visual history of Bulgari and SERPENTI my thoughts turned to how to bring this back to London and reimagine it in a contemporary and somewhat disruptive way. I started with the codes my brand shares with Bulgari such as using unexpected materials and colours together. Graphic, bold design as a general practice is something I also share with Bulgari. I also looked at hexagons, one of my key brand insignias and something I noted on the head of the enamel snakes on the SERPENTI bag clasps.

"To adorn the bags, I went straight to the chevron, it’s a key brand code of mine as well as Bulgari’s and something I felt when done in the contrast colour tones of say monochrome gave a contemporary leaning towards the scales of a snake. I also wanted to create something that was graphic and unexpected and this felt like a great way to capture those elements. I created these chevrons out of rubberised studs which have faceted ends that reminded me of diamond settings and some of the spectacular gemstones I had seen in the Bulgari high jewellery atelier in Rome. I liked the idea of giving these studs a rubberised finish (or chrome in the case of the gold colourway) as it’s an unusual fabric to find on a Bulgari bag and I liked the matt and slightly contrasting finish it has against the leather below. This again reminded me in some ways of a snake’s skin.”

M: Where did you start with your design process?

NK: “My team and I wanted to change the silhouette of the Serpenti bags to create a shape that felt modern and contemporary so we sharpened all the edges to a squarer, boxier finish. The hardware on the bag was all completely redesigned too, even down to the iconic serpent head bag clasp which we made more streamlined with tighter and more aerodynamic proportions and then re-positioned it to sit slightly lower and closer to the bag itself. For the strap of the bag I created a chunkier longer metal chain to make them easy to be worn across the body and added a leather part to the top where the strap sits on the wearer’s shoulder.

"I then begun to think about other bag styles and shapes to add to the collection. I wanted to create a selection of bags that would meet the different facets of a modern woman’s life. I created a slightly coquettish mini backpack style with a top handle, a pochette with a detachable wrist strap that fits an iPad, a wallet with a detachable metal chain that can be used as an evening bag, a zip wallet and a cardholder.”

M: Where did the ideas for the collection’s colourways come from?

NK: “For the collection’s colour palette my mind again went back to some of the amazing gemstones I saw in the Rome high jewellery atelier. The fuchsia pink, sapphire blue and the gold all came from here. I then fused these with some of my favourite colours I use in my collection designs and came up with the striking black and white colourway and the all black.”


AgendaInternational Women's Day is the celebration of women from all over the globe, no matter where you're from. But, we'd be lying if we said there wasn't just an extra bit more celebration dedicated to contemporary Chinese women of today, ... Read More
JournalThe mould was broken after they created this heartthrob known as Jon Kortajarena. The 33-year-old Bilbao-born model, actor and original clickbait – he is also currently the longest serving spokesperson in the Bulgari household – is the definition of that ... Read More
Agenda'80s nostalgia is one thing, wild '80s is another. Bulgari hosted an extragavant '80s-inspired cocktail party, aptly titled Pop The Night, in the bustling city of Hong Kong to celebrate its new Wild Pop Collection. The novelties displayed, decorations, music, ... Read More