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Repossi /Robert Mapplethorpe – A Collaboration Inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe's Vintage Jewelry

Repossi continues its artistic dialogue unveiling a jewelry tribute collection in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, inspired by the artist’s works with a high jewelry approach. The Repossi / Robert Mapplethorpe collection will be on view for the first time in Miami with a special installation at Saks Fifth Avenue at Bal Harbour Shops from November 30th. The tribute collection is the result of three years of research and development by Gaia Repossi.

© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Gaia Repossi’s relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe’s work began ten years ago when she acquired a work titled Puerto Rico, 1981 by Robert Mapplethorpe, which still hangs in her design studio and marks the beginning of her art collection. From then on, Mapplethorpe’s photographs regularly illustrated the House’s visual communication. When the Foundation approached Gaia to reinterpret this little known part of the American photographer’s work, she accepted on one condition: to be able to offer a High Jewelry reinterpretation, incorporating all the know-how and technical expertise of the Repossi workshops.

The collection consists of pieces divided into seven themes, whose names refer to major themes in the work of Robert Mapplethorpe: Jetty, Dagger, Black x Cross, Bullseye, Relic, Chain, and Americana Eagle.

Robert Mapplethorpe by Valerie Santagto


For this collection, Gaia Repossi was inspired by more than 150 of the artist's references kept in the archives of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in New York. These are mainly necklaces made of "bits of nothing" as Robert Mapplethorpe liked to call them: shells, pearls, crab claws, nails, dice, engine parts, among others, that he assembled between 1965 and 1968 in New York. Patti Smith, his muse and companion at the time, was the first to wear his creations.

This research led Gaia to take an interest in other elements of the photographer's work as well: his drawings, collages and three-dimensional works. For the Repossi / Robert Mapplethorpe collection, Repossi preserved the style and aesthetic that are characteristic of Mapplethorpe’s work, what Gaia calls "lateral symmetry": the accumulation and balance of volumes, as well as the play of contrasts.

Photo by Jeremy Everett. Mapplethorpe Works © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Used by permission.

MAPPLETHORPE and the excellence of Place Vendôme

Gaia's strong artistic vision for this collection was supported by the expertise of the Repossi workshops. Months of study and exchange between the workshops and the design studio were necessary to develop the nineteen designs, each with a high level of detail and real technical complexity, in order to honor the authenticity and aesthetics of the inspirational models. All the elements have been shaped, assembled, set and polished by hand, in France or Italy, respecting the codes of the jewelry tradition and the excellence of the Place Vendôme.

The experience and technical skills of the workshops have enabled them to integrate all the signatures of the House of Repossi: assembly systems, unconventional settings, setting of hundreds of diamonds - more than 1000 on the Chain necklace! - singular gold colors such as champagne gold, the most precise polishing so as not to alter the angles, and black rhodium plating, unconventional in the jewelry world, mastered only by a handful of Italian workshops. Particular attention was also paid to the different finishes, with varying degrees of patina for a vintage effect yet framed to the exact brushstroke.

Repossi called on Parisian "masters of the arts" for some of the technical parts of these pieces, such as the crab claw in the Crab Claw pendant, carved in 18ct white gold from a real crab claw, or the Americana Eagle necklace, which reproduces the American eagle symbol in detail using the lost wax technique.

The collection also highlights the excellence of Italian workshops. Indeed, several pieces required skills mastered only in Italy, such as the ruthenium coating technique used for the Dagger ring, the Relic necklace and the Black x Cross pendant.

Repossi/Robert Mapplethorpe collection is available for November 30th through December 14th at Saks Fifth Avenue at Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave, Bal Harbour, FL 33154. T: 305. 865.1100, Website:

More on Repossi

Repossi perpetuates the creative family heritage of three generations as a high jewelry house.The jewelry house began in Turin in 1957 when Constantino Repossi opened his first boutique after studying industrial design and developing a pronounced taste for Art Deco. The legacy continued when his son Alberto added an international dimension by moving to Monte-Carlo in the late 70’s and becoming the official jeweler to the royal family of Monaco. From the glamour of the 80’s to the elegance of the Parisian avant-garde when the house settled into the Place Vendôme in 1986, Repossi anchors in its time by continuously offering a new incarnation of jewelry.

Gaia Repossi was born in 1986, in Turin (Italy). She grew up instilled with the passion for jewelry from Alberto, her father, and grandfather and developed very early a taste for visual arts. After studying painting at the Beaux Arts school in Paris, she pursued a course in Archeology. In 2007, she joined her father to work at the family House and took on the role of Artistic and Creative Director to instill her innovative vision. Her inspirations reflect her passion for artists like Joseph Beuys, Franz West, Donald Judd, Robert Mapplethorpe, Walter de Maria or Robert Smithson. Her influences are also architectural, including the Bauhaus and Le Corbusier, and the new boutique in Place Vendôme is the result of her encounter with Rem Koolhaas.

Her openness to the world also has an influence on her collections inspired by sometimes distant cultures and times, crossing tribal or ancient references to combine simplicity and complexity. Gaia Repossi has regenerated the vision of the house by reinventing the traditional codes of jewelry. She combines primitive jewelry with art and architecture to create bold pieces intended to be worn as a second skin. Particularly known today for its emblematic collections that play with notions of full and empty as Serti sur Vide, which is characterized by floating diamonds. Antifer is recognizable with its peaks and sharp angles, and Berbere repeats minimalist lines.

The timeless creations with resolutely bold and architectural lines push the limits of traditional craftsmanship and positions Repossi as the most avant-garde jewelry house on the Place Vendôme.

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Repossi. Top image of Robert Mapplethorpe by Valerie Santagto


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