Contributing to her family’s legacy as a fourth-generation member of the Fendi design family, Delfina Delettrez has manifested her own unique aesthetic. Starting her eponymous fine jewellery brand in 2007, Delfina continues to experiment with traditional Italian goldsmith techniques, contemporary metals and figurative surrealism to create hyper- modern, futuristic jewellery. Delettrez has collaborated with the likes of Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Opening Ceremony, and Kenzo and is her unique aesthetic has won her a loyal customer base, the world over.
How long have you been a designer?
I started 7 years ago... I like seven, as a number it's good luck, and this year was very important. My brand evolved, I took important decisions, the London boutique for example, presenting a fine jewellery collection in Paris, all decisions that of course are risky, but to me risk is synonym of growth.
What inspired you to start your label at such a young age?
The age is relative. I started working at 17; I was a mum at 18. For sure those two aspects exist because they combined at that time. Of course being such a young mum pushed me to take this passion in a more serious way, and for sure being pregnant at that time helped me to eternize my universe, and to approach this art. I wanted to craft objects has an homage to my daughter, I was giving life but I was thinking about death, my creations had a childish approach but mature at the same time. They were dark but coloured. When you are pregnant each minimum sensation of your body is amplified; same with my thoughts, same with my creativity. I didn't have control on my body, so I guess I wanted to have control on the metal.
Describe a typical day-in-the-life of Delfina Delettrez:
I am lucky to say there isn't a typical day: I am a mother, a woman, a daughter, a creative and a businesswoman. I reflect myself in many mirrors, and so I have many needs and obligations. I try to balance all of that. I am a Libra, and hopefully I was trained to find the balance since I was born.
Did you have any formal design training?
No formal training. My family and their open attitude to us kids trained me. I was nourished of milk and fashion there wasn't a separation between generations; anybody of any age could listen and participate. They left me freedom of expression, and understanding the hard work and devotion of this work. Passion and devotion are the two magical words.
How would you describe your jewellery?
They are made of opposites, I take traditional and serious codes adding them some lightness and irony. I think they can be divided into two parts, one is called the Delfinarium, where I work on limited editions, and on a bigger scale, everything is very much connected to nature, there is some realism has some surrealism. Everything is more figurative. The other I call it "ultramodern classics" were I am very much influenced by classic jewellery, such as the pearls, the engagement rings, the wedding rings... Trying to give them a twist. Woman now buy jewellery themselves, they even choose their engagement ring, I think a woman is now ready to choose between and engagement ring, earring, bracelet and why not... A nose ring... because "she definitely nose what she wants"!
Where do you draw your design influences from?
From what I'd love to wear, everything is very intimate. If I wouldn't wear something I would leave it on a side, and be open to one day go back and continue working on it. I follow my personal trends and sensations. I never wore jewellery before wearing my own. Each piece I was wearing I felt it didn't belong to me, my age, my aesthetic. I guess it was my generation problem; I wanted to give a twist in tradition to an art that I totally respect and admire. In fashion there is so much avant garde, why can we not push the limits in jewellery?
You were the youngest designer to be included in the permanent collection of fine jewellery at the Louvre’s Musee des Arts Decoratifs. Among your many accolades, has there been a favourite moment in your career, thus far?
Each time I enter the room of the museum I have frisson. The idea that the pieces will be there forever makes me think about the fragility of life, and reminds me about the beauty of working with gold, fossilising ideas that are eternal. It's magical...Every collection and presentation are incredible moments, from the idea that arrives, to understanding and discovering my idea is wearable! The installations I build to present my jewellery are important to me. This is where I can finally accomplish building something with my own hands. I build everything, with the help of artisans, in my courtyard.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?
That risk is synonym of growth.
How does one marry the technical with the conceptual?
By having a great team of young and adventurous artisans. By experimenting...By not limiting yourself just with "noble" materials, and by redefining an idea of luxury: what is precious is not just what sparkles, the luxury is also the concept living in each piece and the great manufacture.
Of all your designs and collections, do you have a favourite collection or piece?
My favourite piece is the one that hasn't been created yet! Each piece has an intimate story, has a reason, and has an importance to me.
What are your preferred materials to work with?
Gold white, yellow and pink!
How important is the international market to your brand?
Very important, fundamental. I wanted to invest in Rome at the beginning because I believe in Made in Italy. I opened my first boutique here to mark the point I was an Italian, Roman brand. After seven years I wanted to invest in the UK, opening my Mount Street boutique, because it's one of my most important markets.
Do you feel business acumen is just as important as one’s design skill?
Of course business is made of risk, each decision needs to be taken with instinct, especially when like me, you are the CEO and the designer.
What excites and stimulates your creativity?
Knowing myself, following my instincts, my curiosity. Be ready to shift my aesthetic parameters. "I am the dream maker, and the dreamer of my dreams".
How closely connected is the art world with the fashion industry?
Very connected, now fashion world contaminates very much the art industry. And vice-versa!
Describe your style philosophy:
It's alchemical and instinctive. I can be paired down wearing a nun's gown-dress, and look like a tropical bird by wearing coloured furs. Sometimes I like to camouflage myself with nature, mix different animal skins or animal prints, and become a "fantastical" animal... I like to navigate in different categories. But my style philosophy is not be scared to make it different. In my creations, there is a subtle nostalgic approach, but always connected to the future
What advice would you give to a young emerging jeweller?
To stay always faithful to their vision, to bring difference by creating a unique language and universe. Tell stories, experiment, and experiment and contaminate different fields.
What is next for your brand?
I am working on my next collection and presentation. Building a new installation.
How do you feel about the future of fashion?
It's unpredictable. We have a healthy nostalgic attitude. But we follow fashion rhythms that don't allow us to properly think and understand our personal desires. We will slow down the process for sure. Computation and competition is now everywhere. For sure we will wear our technology more and more, maybe wearing less clothes. But for sure technology will be more and more present in the fashion industry.
Lastly, have you visited Australia?
I have never visited Australia. I do admire the Aurora Australis and cuddling a baby koala! You can find Delfina on Instagram @delfinadelettrez