Repossi’s Tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe
About a decade in the past, Gaia Repossi, the inventive director of her household’s namesake high quality jewellery label, bought a Robert Mapplethorpe of a palm tree swaying within the wind, its sharp black fronds caught in opposition to a clean sky. She felt the cool, elegant picture shared the identical aesthetic along with her personal minimalist-leaning work, and discovered herself turning to Mapplethorpe’s photos — notably to his self-portraits and his architectural nonetheless lifes of flora — extra and extra. “It’s not cute. It’s very sharp, very serious,” the designer, 33, says of the artist’s physique of labor. Then, in 2016, got here the chance to collaborate along with his property. The outcome — a 24-piece tribute assortment comprising necklaces, pendants, bracelets and rings — will launch later this yr, three many years after the photographer’s dying in 1989.
The design course of started when the Paris-based Repossi delved into Mapplethorpe’s archives at each the Getty in Los Angeles and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York and uncovered a aspect of the artist she hadn’t beforehand identified. In his early 20s, whereas dwelling within the Chelsea Hotel, Mapplethorpe supported himself by promoting talismanic jewellery he produced from scavenged ephemera — cube, nails, feathers, cash, empty crab claws swiped from eating places. Enchanted, Repossi, who holds a grasp’s diploma in archaeology, sifted by means of the copious remnants of his jewellery (round 25 items, together with tons of of extra fragments, stay), in addition to Polaroids of a younger Mapplethorpe and his mates modeling his wares, making sketches as she went.
Some of Mapplethorpe’s creations, like a sequence produced from horseshoe nails, aligned with Repossi’s penchant for summary, recurring shapes. To recreate it, she solid nails in white and darkish grey gold, looping them into stacked, sleek rings, some with pavé diamonds. A sequence-link and wire necklace threaded with pink and black ribbon, in the meantime, was rendered as a multilayered choker that includes darkish pink gold in addition to metal, a brand new materials for the model. Other finds — particularly necklaces strung with crab claws, shells, animal collectible figurines and skulls — had been a welcome problem. Repossi ended up commissioning a maître d’artwork to carve molds of a few of these figurative components in wax, which had been then solid into metal pendants and, in some circumstances, coated in vibrant colours like magenta and bottle inexperienced.
Like Mapplethorpe, Repossi is raring to upend conference — for one piece, she raided the jewellery home’s assortment of classic pearls, bought in earlier many years by her father, and paired them with beads of black gold, quartz and metal — and she isn’t shy about enlisting mates. To shoot the digital and social media marketing campaign for the gathering, she employed Juergen Teller to take 1970s-style Polaroids of Mapplethorpe’s circle (Cindy Sherman, the mannequin and artist David Croland) and followers (Virgil Abloh, the curator Flavin Judd) carrying items from the gathering, which, along with an ongoing exhibition on the Guggenheim in New York and a current biopic by Ondi Timoner, is the most recent proof of a Mapplethorpe renaissance.