Mary Katrantzou, the London-based fashion designer known for her audacious color sensibility, has been named the first-ever creative director of Bulgari leather goods and accessories. 

While her debut collection in this new position launches in August, the award-winning designer’s relationship with the brand (which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year) dates to her 2019 couture show (at the Temple of Poseidon in Greece) where models were swathed in heritage Bulgari High Jewelry. A capsule collection of “Serpenti Through the Eyes Of” bags followed two years later, which saw the so-called “Queen of Prints” rethinking Bulgari’s iconic serpent motif in gold-plated brass handles and closures, as well as stately snake-head minaudières (some sporting scales in colorful, hand-painted enamel). 

“These bags do feel like you’re carrying a piece of jewelry,” she tells Alexa. “You can transform a symbol of Bulgari and transport it — from the past to the present and to the future.” 

Katrantzou’s second capsule collection debuted last year and featured precision-engineered embroideries, inspired by the brand’s High Jewelry and watch collections.

One could speculate that Katrantzou was predestined for this role, as her background somewhat mirrors that of the company’s founder, Sotirio Bulgari, who was born in Greece and trained as a silversmith before establishing his brand in Rome in 1884.

Born in Athens, Katrantzou studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and Central Saint Martins in London, where her graduation show featured trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewelry on jersey-bonded dresses. 

She started her namesake label upon graduation; today her pieces are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Clearly not one to rest on her laurels, Katrantzou will remain at the helm of her eponymous brand while assuming responsibilities for the creative direction behind Bulgari’s leather goods and accessories, including the one-of-a-kind High Jewelry collection of bags and clutches and eyewear. 

She’s mum about the upcoming launch, but reveals she’s spent quite a bit of time mining the Bulgari archives for inspiration.

“You can’t have Bulgari without Serpenti,” she allows. “But there are many other interesting symbols within the Bulgari universe — Tubogas, Diva, Cabochon, Monete and some that no longer exist. There is so much potential and opportunity, it’s just about finding what’s in sync with the times and where we want to go next.”

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