When I arrived in Paris I was told by my French teacher that I must, must visit the retrospective Bulgari exhibition at the Grand Palais – a celebration of 125 years of the Italian house:
“A genuine saga illustrated by over 600 masterpieces in jewellery, watches and precious objects, including aound 100 exclusive pieces that are being shown to the general public for the very first time…A remarkable historical treasury.”
We went and it was beautiful; not only the jewellery on show – but the Grand Palais itself is a really impressive space. Modelled on London’s Crystal Palace, it was built for Paris’ 1900 Exposition Universelle. Nowadays it’s one of the most prominent exhibition spaces – it actually has its own police station in the vaults. If you’re in Paris, make sure you visit, even if it’s just to walk in and look up through the vast glass dome.
So…It turns out that Bulgari is not actually Italian, but Greek by origin. Towards the end of the 1800s, he moved to Naples due to political unrest in Greece, and at the turn of the century made his name with his world-famous store in Rome. For him, the most important aspect of his designs was their symbolism – Bulgari is often known for using gemstones en cabochon in his pieces – representing the curves of a beautiful woman…It’s all very romantic.
His Rome store is also where Richard Burton and Liz de L’or used to rendez-vous secretly while filming Cleopatra (it took us ages to work out that the audio-guide was referring to Elizabeth Taylor. Liz de L’or, Liz de L’or, Liz de L’or.)
The exhibition is now finished, however, it’s their 125th year, so look out for possible exhibitions they may hold in cities around the world. I loved it.
“I always visit Bulgari, because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.”