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Bulgari Tightens Accessories Focus

The company is reining back the expansion of its leather goods division to place the focus squarely on watches and jewelry.

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Bulgari Isabella Rossellini

BULGARI REDUX: Bulgari is reining back the expansion of its leather goods division to place the focus squarely on watches and jewelry, chief executive officer Michael Burke said at the brand’s accessories presentation in Milan Friday. Burke, who took over the brand in February, also revealed Bulgari will no longer enlist outside designers like Matthew Williamson, who created a line of leather goods for the Roman jeweler in 2010.

“It’s about being consistent with jewelry. Every single bag that you see here tonight has an inspiration from jewelry,” Burke told WWD, pointing out a handbag featuring undulating strips of lamb and python leather, which he said was inspired by a lacquer and mother-of-pearl jewelry piece.

The Isabella Rossellini handbag line, launched two years ago, remains a major pillar of the accessories segment. Burke’s predecessor, Francesco Trapani, said at the time that he hoped accessories would double their share of total turnover within three or four years from 7 to 8 percent. That objective appears to have been almost achieved, with Burke estimating that accessories account for between 12 percent and 15 percent of total sales, depending on the country. “I think the proportion is the correct proportion. Bulgari will remain a jeweler first and foremost,” he said. “Accessories and perfume round out the brand. They are not the core of the brand.”

The Rossellini line, which features an Art Deco-inspired enamel clasp with a twist lock made from semiprecious stone, has been expanded for spring with new models including one featuring a red coral embroidered fan motif.

“It’s going to be more about few key lines than getting into the rat race of introducing a new ‘It’ bag every three months. That’s not the Bulgari model. Bulgari is not a fashion house,” Burke explained.

The Milan showroom featured images from the fall advertising campaign, featuring the actress, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. “She’s a mensch,” Burke said of Rossellini. “She is the opposite of here today, gone tomorrow. She’s been there and she’s today, after many years, still as relevant as she was many years ago. That’s the message.”