Bowerbirds, beware. The latest addition to Parlour X’s jewellery offering could prove dangerous. Born in Paris but raised in Italy, Sylvio Giardina‘s distinctive aesthetic fuses the modern with the historic. The ex-couturier uses unexpected materials, including Plexiglass and bronze, to make his statement-making creations – utilising Italian craftsmen to produce each piece by hand. To help introduce this exciting brand to the Australian market, Parlour X sat down with the talented designer to talk art, fashion and why everyone woman should invest in at least one pair of statement earrings…
You’ve had a varied career in the creative arts – can you talk us through how you came to design jewellery?
I have always had a penchant for industrial design infused with traditional Italian flair, which finds its best expression in Milan’s Design Week. Beside design, my work encompasses art, architecture, music and cinema… Clothing to me is like a construction, I am fascinated by the stages of dress-making. As with the ready-to-wear, jewels allow to experiment such as with the transparency effect or with the alternation of empty/full elements. My bijoux recall the sculptural installations and clients can “customize” them by combining different available elements.
Your designs are incredibly unique. What inspired your most recent collection?
The “Kiss on the Hand” collection comes from two main inspirations: on one side, the shapes and the typical motifs of classic Italian jewellery, beloved by movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, with Swarovski crystals decorating boules, pendants and ear cuffs; on the other, the importance of rectangular plates in vivid Plexiglas colours framing the jewels, paying tribute to the drive-in screens, the main source of inspiration of Wim Wenders’ ‘Time Capsules’ photographic series. Thus, in every piece timeless allure and innovation spirit blend together.
What role do you think should jewellery play in a woman’s wardrobe?
Usually jewels are used to complete the look but to me they represent a mean to express one’s personality, highlighting one’s mood and taste, maybe also using them to dare a little more than they would do with the outfits. My creations don’t follow fleeting trends but rather try to enhance the uniqueness concept.
If a woman is to buy only one piece of jewellery each season, what should it be?
Earrings, no doubt. They are the accessories closest to the face and they can “complete” and highlight the beauty of the wearer.
You utilise many non-traditional materials in your creations. Would you ever create using precious metals and stones?
The ideal would be to develop the jewellery line by approaching in time the fine jewellery sector, therefore we are absolutely willing to follow this path. I would nonetheless like for the precious stones and the metals to be used along with the brand’s traditional materials. After all, there lies the beauty of experimentation!
You are both artist and fashion designer. How does your artistic practice intersect or influence your wearable creations?
The combo of art/fashion is in my DNA. There are no intersections nor influences; they are two coexisting entities. Through fashion the art idiom finds its natural extension, mostly because I believe that nowadays contemporaneity lies in placing different contexts on the same level.
You were born in Paris and raised in Italy. How do you think this has influenced your aesthetic, if at all?
The two cities are a part of me: Paris is the city of modernity, especially when talking fashion, with a strongly international grasp. Rome remains the cradle of art and traditions. The influence lies in the approach to fashion design filtered through art at large.
Do you, or did you have a professional mentor?
I have worked many years in the renowned Gattinoni Atelier in Rome. My mentor was Mrs. Fernanda Gattinoni, founder of the atelier, a woman I always remember fondly. She thoroughly taught me the job, from piecing together the outfits to the execution of the embroideries. She was a woman with character, linked to Rome’s dolce vita. Thanks to her tales, she was able to bring back to life the splendour of haute couture designed for the Hollywood stars. Over her career she dressed Anna Magnani, and designed the costumes for Audrey Hepburn in War and Peace.
Your pieces are all handmade – quite a feat in this mechanised world! Is this aspect of production important to you?
Absolutely. Made-in-Italy is the result of the work of expert hands, those of skilful artisans, young and not-so-young, providing a unique added value.
What is your impression of the Australian fashion/design industry?
I have visited Sydney and loved the city, a place where urban spaces and nature blend in harmony. What struck me about Australia is its focus towards novelty and research in general, as much in fashion as in design.
What is your favourite piece in the current collection, and why?
I don’t have a favourite piece in particular, because I care very much about the whole project since it allowed me to work on the key elements of jewellery, giving them an unusual allure. This collection represents a growth for a brand which constantly looks at the past to update it and reach new goals.
You can now shop Sylvio Giardina at Parlour X here.