Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Set against the backdrop of the tritons and chariot of the Palazzo Poli the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy stands 85 feet high and is one of Rome's largest water fountains. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez Fendi.

For over eight decades, the name Fendi has become synonymous with high-fashion.

The world-renowned Fendi brand, established by Edoardo and Adele Fendi, was the first leather handbag and fur workshop in Via del Plebiscito, Rome.

In the years to follow, the Fendis' five daughters, including Silvia Venturini Fendi, would each bring unique design aesthetics and flair to the company's inventory.

Silvia's daughter, Delfina,  ultimately followed in the footsteps of her jeweler father, French designer Bernard Delettrez.

At age 20, Delfina reinvented the Fendi name through a bold, cutting-edge style that clearly sets her apart from her lineage.
"I did not formally study design. I learned everything I know from my father. He gave me advice about what stones and metals work best together," Delfina says.

"Stylistically speaking my father and I are polar opposites. His jewelry adheres to classic and modern lines. When he saw what I was doing, he thought I was crazy. He asked me, `What did we do to you as a child?'"

Delfina's aesthetic is not girly or delicate. You do not look at her jewelry and say `that's pretty'. Her skull, bat, spider, and eye motifs are bizarre and grotesque. You definitely sense that her designs come from an alternately complex and lucid mind.

"Not everyone is going to wear a ring with a pig on it," she says. "My jewelry is for women with a strong sense of humor and self."  The jewelry's eccentricity stirs the senses causing you to ponder what Delfina's inspiration is and how she conceptualizes a piece.

The vampire teeth, mouth and eye jewelry make me think of Alice in Wonderland. These disembodied parts, floating in limbo, seem to fit right into the wildly strange world of Wonderland as they seek a new existence apart from the bodies they once belonged.

There is also an underlying otherworldly theme for many pieces, particularly the skull, spider, and bat items. There is a wooden skull necklace with chains of citrine and pearls dangling from the skull's base evoking a voodoo priestess.

One of her most spectacular macabre-themed pieces is a gold and sterling silver Skeleton Hand Bracelet. It is an amazing rendering with nuanced, stunning details.

At the same time, however, her animal pieces like the koala and frog rings are brightly colored and whimsical as if they emerged from an enchanted fairy world.

Delfina also does beautiful work with porcelain-carved flowers. The designer attributes the softer tone of her nature-inspired pieces to her two-year-old daughter, Emma.

"When I found out I was pregnant I started to shift my designs to animals like frogs and pigs. Pregnancy, motherhood gave me a softness I didn't have before."

If anything, Delfina possesses an unbridled fearlessness by exploring occult iconography as the basis of a jewelry piece, or exaggerating shapes and colors.

She obviously explores different, rather controversial inclinations and is open to varied styles making her jewelry thoroughly unique and as aesthetically appealing or unappealing as she wants.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold, Sterling Silver and Ruby Skeleton Hand Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver and Black Enamel Frog with Crown Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, Murano Glass and Enamel Eye Ring

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