I’m excited to share with you all a wonderful designer who I’m slightly obsessed with right now..and her beautiful wearable art. Maybe you already have heard of Ippolita?
Last Wednesday I had most fun afternoon and lunch at the beautiful Neiman Marcus in Palo Alto where I got to meet and have lunch with the lovely Ippolita Rostagno the talent and mastermind behind her eponymous jewelry brand. Neiman’s had set us up for a chic lunch and meet up with the designer who brought her whole collection to show us.
My dear friend and jewelry lover Jeanne invited me to go with her. She’s and another friend Vicki are fans of Ippolita and collectors. This jewelry unlike most, is handmade, totally unique and truly art, except you can wear it.
Jeanne, our friend Vicki, Ippolita and myself.
Two stunning models were also there showing the pieces with some amazing clothes from Neimans that set off the jewelry.
Beautiful pieces that look they came out of a Renaissance workshop come to mind when I think of Ippolita. A few friends own Ippolita pieces which they wear daily and have become part of their style. Ippolita’s jewelry is made for a women’s body and bought by women. Women buying for themselves makes up 99% of her sales! I think that says a lot. We were fortunate to have Ippolita sit with us at lunch and chat with us. After she gave a little talk and we got to learn more about her brand and how she began, and a few fun stories.
Though she is closer to my age, Ippolita looks like a Botticelli herself and is surprisingly the mom to a 30 year old daughter and a 15 month old boy! Besides being the designer and head of Ippolita, she recently bought back full control of her own company. She also is dedicated to helping the artisans of her native country and started a website Artemest, which showcases and helps emerging artists and craftspeople of Italy. It is her way to give back to that community and help them prosper and refine their crafts to be marketable and that way retain the traditions. I love that.
Right away she reminded me of the stylish women of Italy, with little makeup, but beautiful skin, natural hair and the simplest clothes with bold jewelry, a look I always admire when traveling there. Ippolita grew up in Florence, with an Italian father and American mother. She studied sculpture at the Instituto d’Arto and later translated that into her jewelry. She first began selling big unique pieces to Bergdorf Goodman in 1999, who used just her first name and it stuck. They weren’t sure of who to market to, but put her things in the window where they gained fans. Her jewelry is now carried at special upscale retailers, on her website and in her own Madison Avenue store in New York.
Ippolita began the line as an answer to a jewelry market where everything was either extremely fancy and expensive or costume. She wanted to create fine jewelry to wear daily. Her pieces are not only beautiful and unique, but feel as good as they look on. An individual necklaces can be worn any way- backwards, clasp front or not and are meant to look good in a multiple of ways- a very modern way to wear jewelry. Bracelets can be elegant alone or stacked to make stunning statement. Some shapes have been casted from wax models of her own body and thus feel soft and comfortable to touch and fiddle with as women are want to do. Earrings and big rings aren’t just for cocktail parties, but to become part of your own ‘look.’
Her jewelry is cool and fun and though made of the finest materials, she doesn’t want them to be viewed as precious. She wants them to be worn everyday and loved. That is why they are so popular.
One important difference in her jewelry is the feel and look of the metals which are hand-crafted and also the cut of the stones, which are not in a traditional fashion and unique to her. She trained herself to be a stone cutter in Thailand and now trains her own craftspeople to cut the stones and shape the metals. She says it can take years to train an artisan to work in her studios. The proof in the pieces which are just gorgeous.
A few of my favorites here and below. Of course the gorgeous clothes set them off perfectly. Could I just have the whole look? I didn’t want to ask how much!
She traveled this time with her whole collection and after the lunch we were able to see and touch it all and try on. It was like being a kid in a candy store, but in the grown-up woman version! What to try first? necklaces? Rings? Every single piece is hand crafted and special.
I’m crazy about the rings!
And the drops ! I’d like a pair in every color if I could.
After much fun with other shoppers and the nice Neiman people, I decided to buy myself the Jet Set earrings which I know will be something I can wear daily as well to special evenings too. They are the perfect first purchase for me as I usually wear silver.
In fact I wore them the day after with my hair up and got so many remarks about them and I have to say felt quite pretty wearing them. The next day I wore them with my jean top and camo pants and they made the outfit look more upscale and arty.
A photo of the Jet Set earrings. They come in a smaller size too.
Jeanne was deciding on this Mother-of-Pearl chain. She is great at mixing her chains and wearing them unique ways.
I love the color of Ippolita’s gold pieces and she actually has a proprietary mix of gold that only she uses that is flattering to all skin colors.
Another lovely customer, Merry was also a collector of Ippolita and loves the silver. I thought it was so pretty with her coloring.
Merry owns many of the cool bracelets and wears them stacked. There are a lot of choices in the silver...
There is also rose gold. Something for everyone.
Ippolito’s design motto is ‘Cool enough to covet, classic enough to keep.’ That is a motto to you should keep in your head when you shop! I love that and now that I know the story behind the line and this inspiring woman I hope to collect more. If you are in Palo Alto you can visit Neiman Marcus at Stanford which has it’s own little Ippolita boutique and see the beauty of this line in person!
Thanks to Neiman’s Palo Alto for letting me share this and photograph the event and to Ippolita for her kindness and for allowing me to share photos here.