Inspired by Greek and Roman art, Bulgari brings together classic and contemporary styles across a range of collections.
Bulgari is a brand internationally renowned for its sense of luxury — from its opulent jewellery and watches to its elegant fashion and lush hotels, it’s a name that’s synonymous with all things bold and beautiful. But, the global powerhouse comes from humble beginnings and has grown gradually with each decade to reach its current level of lavishness.
The early days
The story begins in 1881 when Sotirio Bulgari left continental Greece and moved to Naples, where he opened a small shop with a partner. Sadly, the shop was robbed, and Sotirio and his partner were forced to move on, this time to Rome.
In 1884, Sotirio set up his own shop in Via Sistina, where he fused and cast silver to create accessories, including buckles, oval medallions and girdles inspired by Greek, Byzantine, and Islamic design elements. Ten years later, he was able to open a second store, where he began trading in a wide range of goods, from silver and jewels to antiques and bric-a-brac.
In 1905, Bulgari opened yet another shop in Via Condotti, which remains the point of reference for all Bulgari stores in the world today. Here, Sotirio increased his range of jewels and accessories, drawing much of his influence from Art Deco and French design trends.
Expansion of the brand
When Sotirio passed away in 1932, he left his business to this two sons, who continued to grow the company — in 1943 the store was revamped and officially named BVLGARI following the script of ancient Roman epigraphy; in the 40s, a range of jewelled watches in the form of a snake was launched; and the brand rose to international fame in the 50s as celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor became acquainted with the striking jewellery.
By the 60s, Bulgari began to create opulent jewels characterised by their striking colour combinations and sense of volume — qualities for which the brand is still well-known. They also began to set Greek and Roman coins in their jewellery as a reference to their origins. Thanks to growing international fame, the brand was able to expand abroad in the 70s, and shops were opened in New York, Geneva, Monte Carlo, and Paris. In 1977, they launched their very first men’s watch, and in 1980, they developed a watch business unit and established Bulgari Time in Switzerland.
Beyond the jewels
As the jewellery line continued to grow, Bulgari diversified even further in the 90s with the launch of their fragrances, as well as a collection of leather goods, including bags, luggage, belts and wallets. With an insatiable passion for luxury, they have since created silk collections, which include ties made with a ‘seven-fold’ technique — the method requires twice as much silk as a regular tie and the material (the finest Saglione silk twill) is used both externally and for the lining.
In 2004, they opened their very first hotel in Milan, a space that is perhaps the ultimate tribute to the world of luxury. The five-star hotel is located in Milan’s most prestigious cultural area and was designed to match the characteristic Bulgari style. The company went on to open resorts in Bali, Beijing, Dubai, London, and Shanghai, each of which boasts beautiful architecture and luxury features. More hotels are set to open in Moscow, Paris and Tokyo in the next few years, while Tokyo is already home to a Bulgari restaurant, bar, and Dom Pérignon lounge. Fine handmade chocolates can be found at Il Cioccolato in both Tokyo and Osaka — the exclusive delicacies are displayed like jewels in glass cases as luxurious treats for both the eyes and palate.
To keep up with this fascinating brand, and their timeline of events still to unfold, follow them on www.bulgari.com