Jenny Walton, an American artist and influencer, is creating inherited artworks – or she is creating heirlooms.
In late September she plans to introduce four limited-edition hairpins designed with Gioileria Pennisi, the first pieces created by the family-owned antique jewelry boutique at the Grand Hotel et di Milan.
Emanuele Ferraccio Pennisi, 46, who works at the boutique and the grandson of the business’s founder, said the family had been approached for projects several times over the years, but Ms Walton’s proposal “encapsulated elegance.”
“Jenny’s idea to put hairpins together was brilliant; It’s a very sophisticated accessory,” he said. “Many shops produce charms, items that can be mass-produced and are relatively easy to make, but hairpins are niche. And yet in demand Is.
“With the passage of time their charm has been restored again,” he added. “Younger customers are increasingly asking us for hair jewelry such as tiaras and hairpins, especially for weddings.”
If you live, work or pass through Milan often, you may have turned your nose up at the windows of this store, its decor of gold cabinets lined in red velvet unchanged since 1971, when a diamond merchant and collector Giovanni Pennisi had opened the doors. , (He died in 1999.)
Penici’s client list includes Miuccia Prada, former Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss and Rihanna, and ASAP Rocky, all by one-of-a-kind baubles collected from auctions from the 1920s to the 1970s. were prepared. Discreet family sale.
Gerardo Felloni, creative director of Roger Vivier and collector of antique jewelry, said on a call from Paris that he traveled the world, but Pennisi brought home the best selection of antique gems.
“My relationship with the family goes back 20 years,” he said. “I was introduced to stylist Manuela Pavesi, also a collector, and my relationship with antique jewelry began right there at the Pennisi store.”
Yet, until now, the family had never produced a single piece of jewellery.
On a warm July afternoon, Ms Walton, 33, was taking Audrey Hepburn for a visit to Pennisi in a full white Prada skirt, Demure top and bow-top heels. She first met the family in 2014 — a few years after graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from Parsons — when she was on her first trip to Milan and decided she wanted to see Mrs. Prada show her gems. Where do you buy from? ,
In 2017, she went to the boutique to choose her engagement ring, which is the oldest Toy et Moi style of the century. “Sadly it didn’t happen,” she said, “but my friendship with the Penici family lives on.”
She moved to Milan in 2021, and last summer at Pennisi bought the earrings she wore on this special day: a pair of Victorian old-cut diamond pendants in yellow gold. At the time of that purchase, she had coffee with Mr. Pennisi at the nearby Emporio Armani Cafe, and they planned a collaboration.
Before the pandemic, when she was living in New York City, Ms. Walton designed costume jewelry with 1950s daisy motifs and sold them online. Once she was in Milan, she “decided to rearrange her life, but still wanted to do something with jewelry.”
According to Ms Walton, the No. 1 question raised by her Instagram followers – who number 366,000 – is how to recreate her signature French twist hairstyle. It was not always like this. When she debuted, photographed from all angles at a runway show, Ms. Walton noticed that her hair was out of whack. Her messy bun was not getting cut. Nor did the elastic-band ponytail.
In 2016, during a trip to Florence, a kind pharmacy assistant changed her life with a U-shaped hairpin and an improvised tutorial. Since then, her blonde hair has been neatly tied back in a bun.
He suggested some advanced versions of the pin to Mr. Pennisi, and he took as his starting point a pair of Cartier hairpins from the early 1900s in the family’s private jewelry collection: elongated U shapes in tortoise shell, diamond-encrusted lacing. Topped with platinum scrollwork.
“Such hair accessories were popular in the late 19th century, when women had long, intricate hairstyles,” said Leo Criaco, senior jewelery expert at Christie’s in Milan.
But when short hair became popular in the early 20th century, “not many pins survived; Their stones are sold to jewelers or broken to make something new,” he said. “Those that are are often crafted from materials such as coral, ivory, and turtle skin,” which are difficult to export because many countries impose restrictions or Restrict products related to endangered species.
Hair jewelry is “a very attractive idea,” said Pamela Golbin, former chief curator of fashion and textiles at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, who noted that French maximalist designer Christian Lacroix often wore such jewelry in the late 1980s. Used to use in the early 2000s. “We haven’t seen that area used again in a long time,” he said, “and that’s a pity because the hair decorations have always been pretty amazing.”
Ms Walton and Mr Pennisi began work on the hairpin in October 2022, selecting four of their designs and deciding on a slim silhouette for the original look.
Determining the best material proved difficult. They wanted a retro look, so they started with Bakelite, a hard plastic popular in the 1920s and ’30s for everything from jewelry to home appliances, but it didn’t work well; Then the stone, which proved too heavy. Eventually, they settled on getting the acetate from a Milanese supplier. All four designs will be offered in three colours: black, amber and ocher which resembles Risotto alla Milanese.
Giolieria Pennisi’s in-house goldsmiths decorated the acetate pins, which included 18-karat white gold and brilliant-cut diamonds from dealers in Lausanne, Switzerland, ranging from 0.7 to 0.2 carats in total, depending on the design.
One hairpin, called Basotto (Italian for dachshund), was inspired by Ms. Walton’s fascination with attractive Milanese women as well as her wire-haired Dachshund, which prompted her to buy a hairpin of her own in March. inspired, whom he named Aurora.
The Bassano and the Duchessa, a design resembling the gate of an Italian palazzo, will retail for 2,900 euros ($3,195), while Lilium, an openwork design that references Ms Walton’s favorite flower, and Marguerite, a daisy creation inspired by her former Points to American design, will be €2,500. Ms. Walton’s compensation will be an undisclosed portion of each sale.
During Ms. Walton’s visit in July, all three Pennycy men who worked at the store were present. Emanuele Pennisi was joined by his uncle, 80-year-old Guido Pennisi, the founder’s son and now president and co-owner of the business, who served spremuta (fresh-squeezed orange juice) to the guests and showed off some jewelry to a German customer. Opened a showcase for
And Guido’s son Gabriel, 47, brought out Madonna’s 2019 “Madame X” album, which showed guests the cover image of the pop star wearing Art Deco platinum and store-bought diamond earrings.
The men patiently chatted in Italian with Ms. Walton, who is still learning the language. She then decided to model one of her new hairpins and, as he watched, she tucked the Duchessa design into her chignon.
“The idea is to wear a pin color corresponding to how much you want the diamond to stand out,” said Emanuele Pennisi. “Black is obvious, while ocher is more subtle.”