Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Shimmering Bralettes and Pearl Capes: Alighieri Introduces Talismanic Ready-To-Wear

At only 30 years old, and despite a notable lack of traditional training, Rosh Mahtani has established herself one of jewellery’s pre-eminent young creatives. You need only look at the earlobes or necklines of fashion week to catch a glimpse of her talismanic vision, or take a cursory look at her figures to see the resounding success her nascent brand has already achieved (between 2017 and 2018 her business saw growth of 1000 per cent). “It’s mad!” she confirms beamingly, sitting in the Holborn workshop-cum-office that acts as Aligheri HQ – a stone’s throw from Hatton Garden, where all of her pieces are cast (“we’re now their biggest customer, after the Queen!”).

The tiny room is a complete operational hub: it’s where her jewellery is assembled to order, packed and then dispatched with hand-written notes. She moulds her new designs from wax right next to where her accountant sits; his calculator is flecked with drops of the substance. “I remember walking in here when it was completely empty and being like, this is way too much space. Very quickly, we were like, this is not big enough.”

Not content with simply dominating the jewellery market, recently Alighieri has branched into new territory. First, through launching menswear. Then, by way of espadrilles dangling charms from their laces. Now, Alighieri Atelier. Comprising a new category – clothing-cum-jewellery – it is the most fabulous way to upgrade your under and outerwear alike. Think bra tops made from intricate golden chains and skirting overlays weighted by pearls; headpieces, shawls, even sparkling minidresses. “I’ve always thought of jewellery as your armour; people from all cultures have worn it to protect themselves since the beginning of time,” explains Mahtani. “How cool that we can actually make jewellery into armour!”

Alighieri Atelier started as the sorts of pieces Mahtani would make for her models to wear in her lookbooks (she photographs and art directs all of the brand imagery herself) – “I really didn’t think it could be commercial, but ever since we’ve had them on show people have been asking for them,” she explains. Her proposal – besides stocking some of the more price-friendly pieces through Net-A-Porter and her own e-commerce – is to evolve Alighieri HQ into a space where customers “come in and have a whole experience,” she says. “We’re going to get a place two doors down where you can come and spend a morning, get measured, have a glass of champagne… I’ll tell you the story behind the pieces, you can read the Dante passages to see what inspired them. I imagine a lot of people will buy into it for special occasions, where they want something a little bit different.”

The Alighieri customer has proven thus far that she is devoted enough to go all in with the brand and Mahtani’s pricing strategy has ensured her pieces remain thoroughly affordable. “If we were to work on the atelier with the same margins that we do for our jewellery, it would be ridiculously expensive,” she explains. “But I don’t want to do that – I’m not introducing this because it’s the most lucrative part of the business, but because I’ve always wanted to do it.”

Atelier’s principles are a natural extension of a brand which has rooted itself in its romantic community ethos, and its belief that jewellery can offer something to the wearer besides simply an eye-catching glimmer. “Whenever any warriors would go out to fight, they would sew talismans onto their clothes for protection, and I want to create clothing like that,” continues Mahtani. “I just think there’s something so incredible about the fact that we’re so skeptical these days; we don’t really believe in religion anymore, we’ve lost faith in politics. But yet, people still relate to these objects in exactly the same way, no matter what language you speak, no matter where you’re from in the world, no matter how cynical you are. When you lose a piece of jewellery you feel it. And I think that’s kind of crazy, because then I don’t think any other object has the same power.” All of that messaging and a golden bralette? What a dream.

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