Jean-Christophe Babin: Shaping The Future of Luxury

Lara Mansour   |   28 - 01 - 2018

There seems to be nothing that can dampen the positive optimism of Bulgari and their charismatic CEO Jean-Christophe Babin. As the sun shines down on another sparkling edition to their hospitality portfolio, the newly opened Bulgari Resort in Dubai, we take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months and look ahead to a colourful future that the Maison is determined to keep consistent, creative, and credible.



Describe the feel of the Bulgari Resort Dubai?

Hospitality is taking us to a new level of luxury experience. I say this is a mix between Milan and Bali which, makes it magical and unique. On one end this it is a city resort central to Dubai, but at the same time you’re on a tropical island, a Bulgari island.

Let’s talk about the Festa collection, what has been the reaction?

Festa resonates well in what you expect, feel, and dream out of Italy. People think about Italy as joyful so the Festa theme reflects that, it represents what Italy stands for. Turning that into jewels you’d never experience felt to the client as a major revolution without denying anything of the past. It’s strong, bold, and colourful, so those items are there but it’s expressed in different ways, which is unexpected.

We have a soft spot for Monete, will we see a revisit to the collection?

You can’t have repeat jewellery with Monete as each one will be slightly different. Each coin is unique and rare, and it can only fit with one of a kind pieces. We created a watch for a client with a beautiful coin, but the coin itself cost 100,000 Euros, so the Monete can be much more expensive than some very big gems.

Do these pieces go to auctions?

You frequently find our pieces at auctions, but our role at Bulgari is not to feed ourselves at auctions. If we ever sell at auction it’s not a need to speculate or to increase the price, it’s a second market for Bulgari.    

What can we expect from the fashion jewellery?

The fashion jewellery has been a success, and we have managed to evolve credibly. Serpenti has evolved with pendants and rings and so have other collections which added new clientele on top of traditional clientele. The launch of Diva has been a major success and brought a new layer of clientele, so fashion jewellery is very strong.

Tell us about the Diva accessories?

Diva is a new baby as it was launched this summer. We saw that the clientele is different between Serpenti and Diva across jewellery and watches. Perhaps Serpenti is a stronger self-statement, yet Diva is perhaps more feminine, so they are on different levels. Those who are in love with Serpenti might not be interested in Diva, and vice versa.



What are we expecting to see at Basel?

Basel will be very feminine. It will show that if you’re daring and you can evolve, an icon which may have seemed frozen forever.

To what extent do you think brand collaboration gives back to the brand?

They shouldn’t be systematic, they are there to add value. If it’s just to have a slight twist on something that we have already created. As a brand you’re the main creator, but on occasion we need mind openers and it’s exciting to work with someone who is different to you because it stimulates the themes and gives personality.

As a jewellery Maison, what challenges do you face today?

Our challenge is to express identity, difference, and character in a world of few millimetres. You may think everything has already been invented, which is right or wrong. If you take Serpenti, we could do it the way Egyptians did it 3000 years ago, but obviously we try and find our own Serpenti. I think what is more challenging in the jewellery business is to try to reinvent something which theoretically is impossible.

Do you tend to create the story first and then the product after?

The product always has an origin, there is initially a trigger. It should symbolise something, for Serpenti it’s the Egyptian bracelets, but it’s not the full story and it’s not the only way to create. The object must be beautiful.

Can over-telling the story, especially on social media, effect the product?

With social media there is very little storytelling, you find more on websites. On Instagram it’s more news rather than the storytelling. Taking Monete, it’s not just a beautiful coin but something that was used 2000 years ago, you can imagine it in the Middle Ages or other adventures.


What are your objectives for the new year?

Professionally it is to grow the desire for Bulgari. There’s no real limit, you can do it through a hotel or ring or an event. You have so many facets in the Bulgari world and you have playful dimension in terms of management. This strive for credibility and consistency remains our challenge for years to come.

And on a personal level?

I live in the moment, I’m not a person to set goals. I’m optimistic and tomorrow is another day.

By Lara Mansour Sawaya