Reconstructing luxury: Alexander Wang on his Bulgari collaboration

The NYC designer has created a capsule collection for the Italian maison.

From Adidas to H&M and Uniqlo, Alexander Wang has always had a natural instinct for collaborations that feel just right. For his latest, the NYC designer is taking us all the way uptown with some high-end finesse. Given free rein by Bulgari to reimagine their iconic Serpenti Forever bag, Wang has created a stylish capsule collection that fuses the best of NYC street style with the maison’s Roman luxury.

The #WangGang approved pieces stay faithful to the Serpenti’s familiar motifs, while injecting a sense of post-modern playfulness into the signature design. Alongside shoulder bags in python and mint green calf leather, the range incorporates contemporary shapes with an arm-cuff Minaudière, a belt bag, shopping tote and satchel. Drawing unexpected inspiration from designer packaging, Wang has introduced new silhouettes that reference dust bags, paper shopping bags and watch boxes, provoking our ideas about what luxury means right now.

Ahead of the launch of the collection at New York Fashion Week, we talked to the designer about taking on an Italian icon.

Hi Alexander, what’s most exciting for you about collaborating with Bulgari?

Initially, I was most excited by the ability to visit their archives, to research the history and legacy of the brand. Now I am really excited about our launch initiatives and ultimately what the consumer reaction will be.

What are your earliest memories of the brand?

One of my earliest memories of Bulgari was its Green Tea/ au thé vert fragrance. It was a scent that my mom wore when I was growing up and I remember so vividly the color and its vibrant scent. That’s how the mint colourway was introduced into the collaboration.

Do you instinctively know when a collaboration feels right for you?

I approach any collaboration, whether it’s luxury or mass, the same way –  by asking myself and the team, what is this in service of? So that there is a clear objective going into the partnership.  I never like to collaborate just to collaborate, for me it always has to serve a purpose and the purpose for this was to inject some humor/ wit into the product while providing a more utilitarian POV.

The collection is inspired by ‘packaging as luxury’ – how do you explore this in the designs?

I wanted to approach this collaboration a bit differently than the rest, I wanted to focus on the notion of packaging as luxury – taking key elements of the purchase ceremony and highlighting them in a way only a heritage house such as Bulgari can.

What was the process of creating the pieces  – were you closely involved in working with the atelier?

It’s been great working with Bulgari, they have been extremely generous and open to all of my ideas, which is something not every historical house is able to do.  Their flexibility and understanding are definite qualities to be admired!

What makes the Serpenti so timeless as a design?

There is just so much history and heritage in the Serpenti and it was really important to recognize and highlight that through this collaboration.

Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?

It’s really hard to choose as I love them all, but if I must, then I’d say the two-in-one satchel as that was the first handbag design I concepted – utilizing this idea of packaging as luxury.

What’s luxurious to you right now?

A relaxing vacation at the Bulgari Resort in Bali.

Sounds divine – thank you Alexander!

See more of the Alexander Wang x Bulgari collection in the gallery below.

7 September 2019