In Elizabeth Gilbert’s biographical book “Eat Pray Love”, the author recalls a conversation with her friend Giulio about the fact that every city has a single word that defines it; not a description exactly, but a single thought that sums up the minds of its inhabitants. When it comes to Rome, says Giulio, the word is “sex”.
No wonder the heritage fashion house Bulgari draws its inspiration primarily from this capital – from the B.Zero1 architectural collection that recalls the Colosseum’s carnality, to the Serpenti jewels that literally wrap around the neck and limbs. Even for its physical stores, all roads lead to Rome: in 2014, the brand asked architect Peter Marino to reimagine their commemorative flagship store along Via dei Condotti, open since the early 1900s. Roman sale of Bulgari is considered the model of all Bulgari stores in other cities. The eight-pointed star pattern serves as the brand’s emblem and is a kind of guide; it can be seen embedded in stores around the world, which now includes Greenbelt 3 in Makati City.
Instead of shops, Bulgari calls its shopping spaces “temples”, perhaps because of its strong references to the architecture of Rome. Heavily veined marble adorns the walls, reminiscent of the earthy side of ancient Roman structures. The multi-faceted parquet floors, which not only allude to Bulgari jewelry but also the mosaic floors of the Roman baths, add a contrasting warmth to the marble. In 2015, the brand financed the restoration of the polychrome mosaics on the floor of the Baths of Caracalla, whose fan pattern inspired the brand’s Divas’ Dream collection.
At the back of the store is a cavernous private room for VIP guests, a golden oval-shaped room furnished with pieces by genuine Italian designers. Photo courtesy of BULGARI
The boutique is divided by collection, but also by categories: jewels flanking each side, the brand’s collection of men’s and women’s watches on catwalks in the middle, with a corner dedicated to Bulgari accessories and perfumes. Minimal art in the store, a vibrant Riso print of flowers on a field, pays homage to brand ambassadors and admirers like artist Andy Warhol.
At the back of the store is a cavernous private room for VIP guests, a golden oval-shaped room furnished with pieces by genuine Italian designers. A crushed velvet sofa by Osualdo Borsani and a Mangiarotti table in white marble welcome you upon entering. On the walls sit bust mannequins wearing Bulgari jewelry, arranged to resemble classical Roman busts. The play itself was inspired by actress Elizabeth Taylor’s visits to the Bulgari store in Rome in the 1950s, when she often flew to shoot during the heyday of Italian cinema.
Bulgari calls its commercial spaces “temples”, perhaps because of its strong references to the architecture of Rome. Photo courtesy of BULGARI
Yet with limited mobility in cities and neighborhoods across the country, the opening of a retail space by Bulgari appears to work against the growth of e-commerce in all retail categories. Where does a luxury brand’s physical store fit if shoppers don’t venture outside? According to Jeffrey Hang, Bulgari’s regional general manager for the South Asia region, the decision to pursue Bulgari’s first showroom in Makati (there is one at Solaire Resort) was in response to growing demand from the Marlet. Hang admits the first few months of the pandemic were ‘devastating’ for the brand, like many other non-core industries, and sought patronage from tourism-led retailing (mostly foreign buyers from China) to get back on track.
Bulgari showroom is located at Greenbelt 3, Makati City. Photo courtesy of BULGARI
But the brand realized that there was great potential among local buyers who were, in fact, keen to spend on luxury. “In Southeast Asia, our activity with local customers in their home markets, in some cases, has tripled from what it was before,” Hang said. “There is no doubt that we had a captive audience and that a lot of these people were shopping when they were traveling. And now that they can no longer travel, they do their shopping at home.
Hang goes to deny that this phenomenon is not necessarily exclusive to Bulgari customers, but is part of a big movement within the luxury sector of buyers who buy luxury items from their homes. “By really listening to our customers and wanting to satisfy their brand-related desires, we have really seen that this effort has paid off,” adds Hang.
While Bulgari continues to be available for purchase on various channels, the construction of a physical store in Manila’s central business district is a sign that luxury really does make sense. No wonder the word Rome is sex, and Bulgari represents the sensuality of the city – touching and smelling the heavy coldness of jewelry, smelling exotic leather, and enjoying Italian hospitality with a cup of espresso in a gold-plated room. egg shape.
Bulgari showroom is located at Greenbelt 3, Makati City.