Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the face of Bulgari and global glamour, talks about why Italian gardens—the jeweler’s latest dazzling collection—has special meaning for her.
The Sparkling Hearts necklace from Bulgari’s Italian Gardens Haute Joaillerie collection.
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy might have the most glamorous résumé on the planet: former supermodel and frst lady of France, best-selling rock star, and since 2013 the face of jet-set favorite Bulgari. “I love shooting pictures again,” Bruni-Sarkozy says as she wraps a day’s photography session for the Rome-based jeweler at a villa in the hills above Florence. “As a songwriter, you spend most of your time alone.”
Bruni-Sarkozy represents a most rarefied niche of modern celebrity (think Taylor Swift as an American presidential spouse for an idea of her unique fame), someone who has earned her superstar bona fdes in widely divergent arenas. While very much the modern woman juggling a megawatt career, high-profile spouse (rumored to have his eye on the Élysée Palace again), and children, she comes across more as thoughtful artiste than boldfacer and is quick to express a distinct appreciation for the aesthetics of Europe’s lavish past. Bruni- Sarkozy once mused that if she could go back in time, it would be to Florence during the days of the Medici, which makes her third campaign for Bulgari—Italian Gardens, the name of the jewelry house’s latest Haute Joaillerie line—a particularly resonant one. “Gardens are one of the most beautiful things mankind has created,” she says, noting that many of her best childhood memories, growing up in Turin, are connected with them.
The new collection takes inspiration from Italy’s landscape splendor, specifically the Renaissance garden conceits that influenced horticultural style for centuries, says Lucia Silvestri, creative director for Bulgari. Intricate parterre and swirling flowerbed patterns define a pavé necklace, Sparkling Hearts; another masterpiece, Magical Refection, pays homage to the water artistry of the terraces at Villa Lante, a Mannerist garden in central Italy, with flawless pear-shaped diamonds. Renaissance gardens had their special hideaways, where the most exquisite flowers bloomed, which prompted Bulgari to create Secret Garden, a gem bouquet necklace with rubellite, tanzanite, citrine, and other vivid stones.
For Bruni-Sarkozy, jewelry has always been much more than a luxury item. “It represents a world of feelings, and a little nostalgia, too,” she says, recalling gifts given to her by her family and husband, as well as the care she took to find the right pieces for state occasions while first lady of France. “Jewelry is always related to special moments in life.” As for her favorite gem, Bruni-Sarkozy says diplomatically that she likes both diamonds and colored stones, then adds with a wink, “Even if you’re a woman and not a girl anymore, diamonds are your best friend. It’s a good title for a song, actually. I should write it, don’t you think?”