It was never Gaia Repossi’s intention to become a jewellery designer, but in 2007, she assumed the role of artistic director of her family business, which was founded in Turin, Italy in 1925. Under the designer’s leadership, and with the ultimate goal of overhauling the brands aesthetic, Repossi has emerged as an important player in the market for fashion-led fine jewellery, first gaining global recognition in 2011 for its Berbère collection of minimalist rings and ear cuffs, which have been worn by celebrities from Emma Stone to Diane Kruger.
The brand, which sold a minority stake to LVMH in 2015, now operates retail stores in Paris and Monte Carlo, and has global stockists in the UK, Milan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, and Korea. Still producing pieces out of the original atelier that her great-grandfather worked in nearly a century before her, Repossi looks to the past while keeping her ornate designs contemporary, together with teaming up with designers like Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra.
From jagged spikes in the Antifer collection, to White Noise’s abstract squiggles, and floating diamonds in Serti sur Vide, Repossi’s new DNA has been cemented, taking it from the private high-jewellery house of an elite few, to fashion’s first port of call, responsible for decking out Rihanna on the red carpet and Beyoncé’s supermodel crew in the Yoncé music video.
Tell us about the new generation of Repossi?
She’s timeless and ageless. She’s the 18-year-old millennial girl, a digital native, but she’s also the 40-year-old working woman. I believe that we speak to every woman, no matter their age.
How would you describe your design approach?
I would say that it’s about reshaping classics into a new modern way of wearing them, and rethinking endorsement in a modern sophistication, but in an edgy and surprising way.
Do you do all the drawings yourself?
I actually come from a fine art background, so yes, I can draw but mostly sketches, not technical gouaches which require a lot of patience.
Your first hit series and an ongoing bestseller were the Berbère rings and ear cuffs. Where does your tribal influence come from?
Jewellery and adornment are part of the collective imagination. It’s been a way of creating identity and language for ages. It’s a very powerful cultural element that has been underestimated in the last couple of decades but is very important to me when it comes to designing jewellery.
How do you cope with the pressures of heading up one of the most prestigious haute jewellery houses steeped in heritage?
When you work on modern sophistication it’s the entire goal of what we are doing.
Tell us how you blend both modernism and tradition?
It’s a matter or balance, keeping our unique identity but bringing modernity and timelessness, together with creating a new language in the jewellery industry with new techniques.
Who is your design muse?
She’s everybody. She’s the woman of tomorrow. She is avant-garde.
How much do tastes differ worldwide? Do you tailor your collections for different regions?
I don’t necessarily tailor collections specifically for one region. Nowadays designs are very global, and we have a tendency to propose something new that can suit worldwide. Nonetheless, according to the reference of inspiration some are very well received in certain parts of the world, because it speaks to them. This is what we call ‘mémoire collective’ in French.
Tell us about your current collection, do you have a favourite piece?
The new Antifer range that we recently launched includes a new shape, called the Off-Width, with wider rows, and a new gold colour association in white and pink gold, called Colourblock. However, we always keep the modernity, elegance and edginess of the initial shape.
What sells the most? Rings, cuffs, earrings?
I would say rings. Hands remain to me the most gracious part of the body to express contemporary adornment, however earrings have also been a true essential for the past couple of seasons.
You created a unisex piece, tell us more about this and how you realised there was a demand for it?
Through modern sophistication you must think of what women, and gender more widely, has become today. A more masculine approach is the most feminine and modern contrast you can propose for jewellery today as a contemporary response. It reflects the reality of today.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
Maybe a painter, and acting in plays would be a dream too. As well as writing, but for some reason my hands always talk first. It’s almost instinctive.
What is your earliest fashion memory?
I have memories of my mother in Chanel, and all sorts of outfits from the early 90’s.
What are the best and worst things about a career in fashion?
You see it’s very interesting the crossover you are insinuating. You would think I have a career in the jewellery industry but it’s crossing over with fashion, which I love. I find that very modern, because jewellery needs to be imbedded with what’s now as well.
Tell us the secret to your success?
Just go for it. I never give up on a project or an idea. Also, most of all, work with passion. I owe everything to my father and grandfather.
What can’t you live without?
Freedom of thought.
Who do you follow on Instagram?
Too many things. I find some artists accounts very interesting to check.
Who has inspired you the most, both professionally and personally?
My father. I also admire Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and artists like Cindy Sherman.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m a very quiet person so nothing really crazy for me. I would say disappearing once in a while. Looking for peace and inspiration would be my greatest extravagance.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I’m happy to see what I’ve achieved so far, but I feel like every day is a new day to prove myself and start afresh.
Tell us about your most treasured possession?
The person I share my life with. But you can’t possess that, you can just cherish it.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
I’m the same as I was, seriously I don’t really think I’ve changed that much!
Tell us the best advice you were ever given?
Sometimes you have to let go.