Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
In 1999, Ippolita Rostagno founded her eponymous jewelry label Ippolita to infuse the fine jewelry world with color, comfort, and exuberance. Yet it was through art, and a deep curiosity about her surroundings in Italy, that she got her start as a designer.
“I have always said that I am an artist first and a designer second,” said Rostagno. “I studied sculpture at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence and have always wanted to translate my love of sculpture into a form of wearable art.”
It was there that she gained an appreciation for the balance between creativity and craftsmanship. And just a stone’s throw away, in the shops on Ponte Vecchio, she discovered her love for jewelry. The look and feel of Florentine jewelry—with a costume-style appearance, yet made with fine gems—ultimately provided inspiration for Rostagno’s iconic aesthetic.
For the past 23 years, she’s merged the worlds of design, art, and craftsmanship to debut pieces that put artisanry on the center stage. Inspired by Italian culture, each piece is entirely made by hand to celebrate women of all ages.
In celebration of her new “Carnevale” collection, Whitewall spoke with Rostagno about how it was inspired by her mother, what pieces she never takes off, and why she started making jewelry in the first place.
WHITEWALL: What mesmerized you up in about growing up in Florence and discovering jewelry in the shops on Ponte Vecchio?
IPPOLITA ROSTAGNO: Growing up in Italy I developed a real sensitivity to the contribution that an artisan makes to everything he touches, and the culture at large emphasizes the importance of enhancing our everyday experience with moments of loveliness. I try to meld craft and beauty in everything I make.
WW: What was your latest “Carnevale” collection inspired by?
IR: The “Carnevale” collection was inspired by my mother. She wore flamboyant headscarves so often that my friends began to refer to her as “Signora Carnevale.” The bright and colorful ceramic in these pieces reminds me of her.
WW: How does the label embrace and balance a juxtaposition of craftsmanship and contemporary design?
IR: I started making jewelry because I myself wanted to wear pieces that reflected a contemporary fashion sensitivity while still feeling artful. My jewelry is not about being “diamondy” or showy or commemorative. The very discipline of design is intimate and is unmediated by thought. When your hands channel your sentiment the aesthetic result is always authentic and contemporary.
WW: What does your personal jewelry collection look like?
IR: Every day I wear the same things: Jet Set earrings, a Mother of Pearl Sofia necklace layered with a Cherish Chain, and a stack of bangles. In addition, I collect historical pieces by artist jewelers, which I just keep around for inspiration.
WW: What types of art or design pieces fill your home?
IR: Kiki Smith did a portrait of me and my daughter Maya which dominates the living room. I love it because it reminds me of both of them and of the hard road women have to travel to discover themselves. All of the art I collect is driven by emotion and is very personal, like my collections of small maquette sculptures and ex-votos.
WW: What's one piece of Ippolita jewelry that you feel embodies the brand's spirit?
IR: I’ve been wearing my Jet Set earrings for 25 years, so I guess they must win this prize. I like them because they are ethereal yet volumetric at the same time and have many connections to fine art notwithstanding their simplicity.