on the superpower of jewelry
interview by JINA KHAYYER
portraits by OLA RINDAL
style by MARINE BRAUNSCHVIG
JINA KHAYYER — You launched your jewelry brand six years ago, but until today you didn’t use the Fendi name. Why?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I don’t want help just because I am a Fendi. I want to do it on my own.
JINA KHAYYER — Why did you become a jewelry designer?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — When I was a kid I would go into my mom’s closet to play with her furs and with her jewelry. I felt a connection between fur and jewelry: fur makes me feel primitive and strong, and in a way jewelry does the same. Since then I’ve been fascinated by jewelry.
JINA KHAYYER — Do you remember the first piece you designed?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Yes. I made a ring for my daughter, as a talisman: two hands holding a ruby. In Italy you give jewelry or stones when kids are born. When I was born my grandmother gave me a ruby, so for Emma I revisited this same ruby and made her a ring.
JINA KHAYYER — Ever since your first collection, Surrealism has been your signature. Why do you feel close to that movement?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I like its freedom; this kind of no-boundaries freedom that only happens in dreams. You know how in dreams you have no codes — hands become enormous and transform into eyes, or lips.
JINA KHAYYER — Sounds like Twin Peaks: do you feel closer to David Lynch or to Salvador Dalí?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I am just reading the book Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch, so right now I feel close to him. Also because I discovered we both practice transcendental meditation.
JINA KHAYYER — Oh really, you’re into that?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Yes, for a few months now. I really like it. It has nothing to do with religion. It’s just a practice. And it opens a door to creativity. My aunt got me into it; I saw her one day and I was like wow, are you in a relationship, are you in love, what are you doing? And she goes: I’m meditating. So I started. It works. Lately when I get pissed my six-year-old daughter Emma comes to me and says, “Mama, did you meditate today?”
JINA KHAYYER — You were 19 when you had your daughter. Courageous decision. How much did that change you?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — It made me be less egoistic. At 19 you’re in an explosion of that state of mind — you want the whole world to be about you. But I became a mother. Of course I was still living my life. I was partying and everything, but Emma came first. Also she gave me enormous strength. I built up my company while I was pregnant. I gave birth to Emma in August, and in October I launched my first collection.
JINA KHAYYER — Why all at the same time at such a young age?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I felt the need. I was building up a family, so I needed to build up my own company.
JINA KHAYYER — How did you manage to be a mother of an infant and to work?
DELFINA DELLETREZ — I was doing this psychotic kangaroo style: I carried Emma everywhere with me.
JINA KHAYYER — And how do you cope today?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — She started school so it’s difficult. But I’m lucky. She loves to learn. Whenever I try to convince her to skip school so we can travel, Emma says,”No, Mommy, I can’t miss school.”
JINA KHAYYER — Do you sometimes feel guilty about not spending enough time with her?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — No. But I had to learn not to feel guilty. My mom didn’t take me to school every day, because she had to work. But I never felt I missed her, because when she was with me, she was with me. So that’s the thing: when I am with Emma I am with my daughter. No phones, no nothing.
JINA KHAYYER — Your first collection was called Delirium. Was that a personal statement?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — All my work is personal. I was giving double birth, to my daughter and my brand. My body and my mind were about creation and procreation. That’s pretty delirious.
JINA KHAYYER — What’s interesting about a delirious state of mind?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — You don’t recognize yourself. You enter new parts of your brain, spots you never really dare to go.
JINA KHAYYER — And you managed to enter that state?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Yes. Today with meditation and when I was younger with ayahuasca.
JINA KHAYYER — Your third collection was called Anatomical, and it was about biomorphic shapes, sexual suggestions, and the Kama Sutra.
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I wanted to push the boundaries and play with sex. In my mother’s generation, women would get jewelry offered to them or they would inherit it. But today women buy jewelry themselves. So I imagine a woman wants the piece to speak to who she is and what she wants. When I made this Kama Sutra ring I imagined a man trying to pick up a woman, looking at her hands and discovering that she is wearing two people having sex.
JINA KHAYYER — So your approach is thinking about independent women in certain situations?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — First of all, it’s about my taste and needs. When I started, I wasn’t wearing jewelry, so I wanted to do something that I would really want to wear.
JINA KHAYYER — Do you follow a concept when you design?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Not in the beginning. I don’t sit down and draw. I play with stones, shapes, ideas. But it’s also not like I have a joint in my room at night and I create. My starting point is books, then I do collages and then I play with stones and shapes.
JINA KHAYYER — Do you have craft skills?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Oh yes. Please, don’t look at my nails now. I was shooting yesterday with Karl Lagerfeld, that’s why they look so perfectly manicured. I usually have really brutal-looking hands.
JINA KHAYYER — That’s hard to imagine. You are very elegant and feminine.
DELFINA DELETTREZ — That’s the Fendi gene. Being Fendi means being feminine. But it also means being brutal and manual.
JINA KHAYYER — And what does being Italian mean?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Passionate, romantic, and throwing washing machines out of the window for love.
JINA KHAYYER — Is it true that Karl Lagerfeld designed your logo?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Yes. But it wasn’t meant to be a logo. He designed it when I was born, as a congratulatory note to my mother. Karl always sends cards and drawings. Normally he likes sending portraits, but in my case he played with my initials: the half moons stand for DD and the five little stars are the five Fendi sisters.
JINA KHAYYER — Your latest collection is called Never Too Light. You celebrate the idea of being unaware of time. Are you unaware of time?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I don’t care too much about time. The only moment I can’t breathe is when I think about time. I try to live in the present.
JINA KHAYYER — You’re the fourth Fendi generation. Tell me a nice anecdote about the first.
DELFINA DELETTREZ — The first, let’s see, that’s Adele, my great-grandmother, the Fendi founder. She didn’t like to have her picture taken, so we just have one painting. When I was born the family decided to place it in my bedroom, over my head. She was guarding me. And she was really scary. She was known to be strict. Adele was the last person I saw before falling asleep and the first when I woke up. She actually looked like she was coming out of my wall, because my wallpaper was the same as the background of her painting.
JINA KHAYYER — Is Rome an exciting city to live in?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — It’s good for my daughter, and it’s healthy for my work. I believe in Italian craftsmanship, and I like to work closely with my artisans. I am trying to learn everything about past traditions before they disappear. Those who know are like a little sect, and they don’t want to teach you. I need to be close to them to get all the secret recipes.
JINA KHAYYER — Where did you learn about stones and their power?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — In the beginning I didn’t know anything about purity, so when I chose I followed my instinct. I was even putting stones upside down, which actually became a signature of my work. I did that with black diamonds, for example. But it was really a mistake. I didn’t know it was upside down. But, I read a lot of books. And I have my guy who tells me things. He’s like an astrologer.
JINA KHAYYER — How do you use the power of stones in your work?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — For example, I just did wedding rings and had to find a combination of two different colors of stones that would energize each other. The bride is a Gemini, so I went for yellow sapphires, which for a Gemini bring pure love and fidelity. I decided to mix them with black diamonds, which are considered non-stones, like a black hole, which symbolizes a new start.
JINA KHAYYER — Sounds like you are a magician.
DELFINA DELETTREZ — I like seeing myself as an alchemist. I’ll give you another example: I had this artist who was going to the Venice Biennale and was freaking out. So I read that if you wear a topaz on your left hand, combined with a pearl, it gives you a sense of strength, like a superpower. So I did a bracelet for her. She told me the bracelet calmed her down.
JINA KHAYYER — Where do buy your stones?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — In Africa, in India, in Brazil. And I work a lot with semiprecious stones from Swarovski.
JINA KHAYYER — Do you have a favorite stone?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — Rubies.
JINA KHAYYER — Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?
DELFINA DELETTREZ — My mother’s ruby. It’s not so much because of the ring but because it reminds me of my mother’s hands.
[Table of contents]
Petra CollinsRead the article
Katsuya KamoRead the article
Mark MahoneyRead the article
Jon RafmanRead the article
Torbjørn RødlandRead the article
Aaron SternRead the article
Jeanette HayesRead the article
Midnight MagicRead the article
Joseph KosuthRead the article
Bruno PietersRead the article
Remi ParingauxRead the article
Kerim SeilerRead the article
Christophe BrunquellRead the article
Anna-Sophie BergerRead the article
by Hans Ulrich Obrist
Mike KriegerRead the article
by Miltos Manetas
FlucTRead the article
by Xerxes Cook
Elias RedstoneRead the article
Masafumi SanaiRead the article
Delfina DelettrezRead the article
Miroslav TichýRead the article
Aron MorelRead the article
The Spring/Summer 2014 collections
by Terry Richardson
by Olivier Zahm and Lily McMenamy
by Jeff Rian
by Olivier Zham
by Olivier Zahm
by Sven Schumann
by Francesco Bonami and Olivier Zahm
Graphic Jackets and Coats
by Benjamin Alexander Huseby
by Katerina Jebb
by Camille Bidault Waddington
by Theo Wenner
by Roe Etheridge
by Chikashi Suzuki
by Mark Borthwick
The Night Will Be Black and White
by Carter Smith
by Karim Sadli
Waiting for the Wave
by Michael Hauptman
by Vanina Sorrenti
by Glenn O'Brien
The Inventory of Balthus
by Katerina Jebb
by Dustin Dollin
by Gianni Oprandi
by Arto Saari
by Katja Rahlwes
When Everyday Life Becomes Forms: Surinami, South America
by Viviane Sassen
by Sante D'Orazio
by Olivier Zahm and Stéphane Feugère with a portfolio on Area nightclub by Glenn O'Brien
by Ryan McGinley
Introducing the World of Ren HangRead the article