Repossi’s Tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe
About a decade in the past, Gaia Repossi, the artistic director of her household’s namesake wonderful 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 together 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 together with his property. The consequence — a 24-piece tribute assortment comprising necklaces, pendants, bracelets and rings — will launch later this yr, three many years after the photographer’s loss of life 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 comprised of 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 way of the copious remnants of his jewellery (round 25 items, together with a whole bunch of extra fragments, stay), in addition to Polaroids of a younger Mapplethorpe and his buddies modeling his wares, making sketches as she went.
Some of Mapplethorpe’s creations, like a sequence comprised of horseshoe nails, aligned with Repossi’s penchant for summary, recurring shapes. To recreate it, she forged nails in white and darkish grey gold, looping them into stacked, swish rings, some with pavé diamonds. A series-link and wire necklace threaded with crimson and black ribbon, in the meantime, was rendered as a multilayered choker that includes darkish crimson gold in addition to metal, a brand new materials for the model. Other finds — specifically 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 forged into metal pendants and, in some instances, coated in brilliant colours like magenta and bottle inexperienced.
Like Mapplethorpe, Repossi is keen 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 buddies. 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) sporting 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.