Gaia Repossi took charge of her family business at just 21 – now, she’s carved out a modernist and unique proposition for jewellery
“I like unconventional associations,” asserts Gaia Repossi, the creative director of the historic jewellery house with which she shares her name. For a brand that in a few short years will celebrate its centenary, Repossi today is unflinchingly modern, proffering designs which, though often minimal, express an ingenious, unexpected beauty – the beauty of the unconventional. Just 21 when she took artistic control of the company founded by her grandfather in Turin in 1920, the past few years have seen Repossi reach new heights, a moment epitomised by the July renovation of their Place Vendôme flagship by Rem Koolhaas’ architectural practice OMA. “The idea was to break conventions,” she explains of their collaboration.
Of course, it couldn’t be just anyone who worked on the store. For Gaia, who studied art, architecture, and anthropology, an authentic connection with artistic and contemporary culture has been fundamental in the building of the brand, in allowing it to be seen within a context that goes beyond the expected ostentatious glitz often associated with fine jewellery. In defining Repossi’s visual identity, she’s collaborated with image makers like David Sims, Viviane Sassen, and Juergen Teller, and worked with fashion’s favoured graphic design studio M/M Paris. Citing agenda setters from Richard Prince to Le Corbusier as inspirations, Repossi’s philosophy for design is one that proves that sparkle doesn’t have to be superficial.
As her Staple collection arrives at Repossi’s Koolhaas-designed space in Dover Street Market (where it is the only jewellery brand to have its own dedicated spot), the creative director reflects on art, perfectionism, and creating pieces with soul.
ON HOW ART HAS PLAYED A ROLE IN HER LIFE
“(Art) was my first love as a child, I was already drawing and then painting as a teenager. It’s something I could do better than anything else. I felt like it came from the guts and was instructive, the brush stroke. It was my main study and it still fills my life with the same enthusiasm... When you study art or painting from someone you learn two main things: to make tabula rasa and never be satisfied in what you do – to aim for the highest standards always.”
ON WHAT HER EDUCATION TAUGHT HER
“A creative director needs an eye, discipline, and a vision. Through archaeology and anthropology, (learning about) tribes and civilisations, my imagination was widened. It made me realise how the jewellery industry is responsible for the traditions we carry and that its reinvention should honour the past. Jewellery is a very important part of our intellectual heritage, and has been over thousands of years.”
ON WHY MAKING PRETTY THINGS ISN’T ENOUGH
“What the visual and imagery side of the jewellery world lacks is a sense of environment and identity. To make a perfect ‘beautiful’ object is not enough. You need a concept with it. Otherwise you sell an empty product with no soul like something that’s come straight from a 3D printer.”