Dolce & Gabbana: Alta Gioielleria starring Catherine de Medici
Dolce & Gabbana kicked off the house’s three-day luxury extravaganza in Florence on Wednesday with a display of their Alta Gioielleria, where Catherine de Medici took pride of place.
Presented inside Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2012, the collection’s central piece was a remarkable golden necklace, at whose centre two golden cherubs carried a rare crystal scent bottle.
Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the world’s oldest pharmacy, dates its first perfume back to 1553, created for Catherine de Medici, who brought vials of the scent over the Alps when she went to marry Henry of Valois, the future king of France. A bergamot-based essence named 'Acqua della Regina,' the perfume continues to be produced today and is known all over the world as 'Acqua di S.M. Novella.'
Strikingly, the designers’ bottle actually carries real scent allowing a lady to perfume herself throughout an evening. Like every object in this collection, it is unique piece. Though not the most expensive. That distinction went to a stunning white gold necklace with an enormous pear-shaped Mozambican Paraiba tourmaline named Oceania, which will set the buyer back a cool 7.25 million euros.
Expect there to be no shortage of clients at this unique luxury event, the latest stop in a once-a-year tour by Dolce & Gabbana, where the designers show alta moda, bespoke menswear and super high-end jewelry at exotic locations in Italy. Debuting eight years ago in Taormina, the duo has since visited Capri, Venice, Naples and Palermo. Three-day extravaganzas for the world’s one percent of the one percent.
“Finally! It’s great to be back. Especially at the centre of the greatest art movement in history, the Renaissance,” enthused Stefano Gabbana as he toured the jewelry display inside the storied pharmacy. It was originally created by Dominican monks who used antique preparations to transform the distillates of medicinal plants into pharmaceutical remedies that are still in use today. Something similar happens with Dolce & Gabbana jewels, where artisans hand-forged some items according to goldsmith’s techniques that date back to the Renaissance.
The Officina’s inventions practically precede the Renaissance. Already back in in 1221 there was hospitium to receive pilgrims, with an early laboratory to transform plants an herbs from a hortus into medicinal substances.
At lunch in the beautiful cloisters, waiters even dressed as dandy Dominicans serving the clever concoctions – with names like Liquore Mediceo or Elisir di China.
The pharmacy even received the Medici coat of arms as a gift, consisting of six spheres and two putti, sitting on the coils of a snake, the animal sacred to Aesculapius, symbolising medicine and pharmacopoeia. The same seen on the Dolce & Gabbana Catherine de Medici crystal scent bottle.
Testifying to the melodrama qualities of some inhabitants of the Italian peninsula, the pharmacy also invented an 'Acqua antisterica' ('anti-hysteric' water) dating back to the first half of the 17th century, and still in production today. Though there was nothing crazy about these remarkable jewels, which riffed on Renaissance artists and the exotic plants and fruits used by the monks – like some stunning ruby and sapphire necklaces composed as frosted strawberries. Or several beautiful white gold earrings composed as peonies and finished with tanzanites and yellow sapphires. Everything made in Dolce & Gabbana’s own jewelry studio located in Legnano, west of Milan, a decade ago.
“We are lucky enough to work for two genius designers, with great imaginations, and our team love the challenge of producing their elegant and exuberant ideas,” explained Walter Veneruz, the house’s jewelry and watch director.
The men’s jewelry was all presented inside a sacristy underneath frescoes of the Passion of Christ and the martyrdom of various saints. Again the duo referenced the Renaissance with a Leonardo da Vinci watch remarkably inscribed by hand with sketches from the master’s illustrations. This year’s version was named The Atlanticus.
Superb Byzantine style cufflinks with rhodolite garnets came in at an entry-level figure of 30,000 euros, though watches had a steeper ticker price. The top end being the Ferdinand II, with a watch face of green jade, done with golden intarsia, at 595,000 euros.
Some of which will be worn late in the evening, when the duo stage their Alta Sartoria collection inside the Palazzo Vecchia, Florence’s city hall. A three-day jaunt around the Tuscan capital that continues Thursday evening with an alta moda runway show.
Catherine de Medici would have been proud.
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