A new collaboration pairs wunderkind footwear king Nicholas Kirkwood with the storied designs of Bulgari.
Flap-cover bag in gold calf leather, $2,800.
Nicholas Kirkwood’s name is synonymous with shoes, but this fall the British designer steps out in a new direction. In a partnership with Bulgari, Kirkwood has created a line of handbags that play on the Italian house’s signature serpent motif. The capsule pairs Kirkwood’s modern playfulness with Bulgari’s perennial elegance to stunning results.
Kirkwood, 37, has been in business with his self-named line of shoes since 2005. The chic, personality-driven designs have made him a hit with both fashion critics (he took home the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award in 2013) and celebrities—Sarah Jessica Parker, Gigi Hadid, and Kirsten Dunst among them. A graduate of the Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London, Kirkwood has long been seeking to expand his repertoire. “Designing a product other than shoes is something I have wanted to do for a while, so when the opportunity came to work with Bulgari, I jumped at the chance,” he says. “It was an incredible experience to not only collaborate with Bulgari’s creative team, but to be introduced to a whole new world of bags and jewelry.”
As he dove into the process, Kirkwood immediately noticed the commonalities between his work and the Bulgari look. “Bulgari and I share a lot of similar design codes, such as the use of unexpected materials and colors together. Graphic, bold design as a general practice is something we share,” he says. “I also looked at hexagons, one of my brand insignias and something I noted on the head of the enamel snakes on the Serpenti bag clasps [from Bulgari].” The bags feature Kirkwood’s trademark chevron (also a frequent Bulgari motif) done in contrasting monochrome, evoking the sensation of the scales of a snake, in keeping with the Bulgari mascot.
Much of Kirkwood’s inspiration came from his appreciation for Bulgari’s high jewelry, especially after he visited the Rome atelier where the brand’s bespoke pieces are created. “There was one craftsman who explained that when making a symmetrical piece of jewelry, he sometimes waits up to six months to find a matching stone,” Kirkwood says. “I found that kind of attention to detail extraordinary—that’s where I began thinking. I decided I wanted to develop an organic design process for this collection to reflect that of the fine jewelry.”
For Kirkwood fans, rest assured that this collection is likely to be the first of many. “I want to be able to expand into other types of products, not just handbags. I think for now the best way to do that is through collaborations like these, so watch this space!” Available at Net-a-Porter, Printemps, Saks Fifth Avenue, select Bulgari stores, and Nicholas Kirkwood’s flagship London boutique.