Bulgari Is Bringing Back The Serpent

Jewelry’s premier serpentine mascot has undergone a high fashion transformation.

Long before Bulgari made it a house signature in the 1940s, the serpent had been an alluring and seductive symbol for centuries. The figure can be traced back to the Hellenistic period; it loomed especially large in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. The there was Elizabeth Taylor, who gave the motif’s appeal a jolt when she wore a coiled gold snack armband in 1963’s Cleopatra. Its magnetism hasn’t waned since.

Bulgari has continually revisited the theme in glamorous jewels, watches, and accessories. Recently, the maison tapped Mary Katrantzou to design a capsule collection of handbags (and afragrance) featuring the iconic snake, which the Greek fashion designer did with her signature use of exuberant color and pattern. ‘The Serpenti hols powerful meaning to me personally as a symbol of rebirth and transformation, and that is so relevant at this moment’, says Katrantzou, whose unforgettable 2019 couture show at the Temple of Poseidon in Athens featured archival high jewelry pieces on loan from Bulgari. ‘More than ever, luxury pieces will need to tell a story and connect with us in a way that feels personal’.

The centerpiece of the new collection in an oversize snake head minaudiere that was inspired by a 1968 harlequin timepiece – a master class in Bulgari craftsmanship, each individual scale hand – painted in enamel and the clasp a forked tongue. The leather handbags feature a fully articulated snake top handle that is a tactile as a coiled Serpenti necklace, while another style is embellised with a mosaic of embroidered butterflies.