We speak with Marco Panconesi about his lifelong love of jewellery and founding his namesake brand
Who is it? Marco Panconesi has always been drawn to beautiful objects. “When I was a kid, I worked at my cousin’s atelier,” he tells me over the phone from Florence, the city where he was born. “She was an artist and painter. I was always playing with my grandma’s jewellery too, or any sort of interesting family heirloom I could get my hands on. She had quite the collection; there were pearls, lots of gold, colourful pieces, big chunky things... You name it.” The influence of his grandmother’s jewellery box can be seen in the pieces he produces today for Panconesi, his namesake brand that launched in July, after years spent working at major Parisian fashion houses.
“The first job I had when I graduated from Polimoda was designing jewellery at Givenchy with Riccardo [Tisci],” he says. “At the time, I had a boss who was a friend of my teacher and she came into my school and found my work interesting in a very artistic way. So I started there, really enjoyed it, and never left the industry.” After two years at Givenchy, Panconesi moved on to Balenciaga during Alexander Wang’s and Demna Gvasalia’s tenures, taking over men’s handbag design and womenswear jewellery, and then on to Mulberry, working closely with Johnny Coca. “Givenchy and Balenciaga are houses that are so rich in history, that you can’t help but be constantly inspired by the past. And the past is something that always inspires me in my own brand and I reference that a lot in my designs – I call myself an archaeologist of sorts,” he explains.
Why do I want it? The jewellery that Panconesi produces today – with gilt materials, semi-precious and natural stones, such as polished rock crystals, rose quartz and deep green volcanic glass – references mid-century costume jewellery, that you could well imagine draped an Italian royal in the 1970s. Yet, it also feels strikingly contemporary in its aesthetic, with sweeping architectural silhouttes that climb the structure of ears, and nestle in collarbones. Panconesi also favours experimental production methods. “I use a lot of enamel, in many different forms,” he says. “I like to experiment with its liquid state and see how that can add decoration to a piece in terms of colour or gradient. I use a lot of crystals too, to give a more fine-jewellery look. But more... affordable!”
Indeed, Panconesi is reasonably priced, with earrings beginning around the £200 mark (the brand has also collaborated with Mugler and Peter Pilotto on capsule collections that wont break the bank). That said, the designer insists that he can’t single out a particular demographic he is targeting with his work. “There is no one person I design for, to be honest,” he continues. “At the beginning, I was like ‘Oh! My woman! I have to define her!’ But she does not exist. There is a wide variety of people that I want to speak and cater to. Those who inspire the brand, those who are fun, bold, have values, and are independent people. It’s more about the vibe of the customer more so than a strict criteria of age, sexuality, et cetera. I don’t want to associate the brand with one sort of customer only – because life is more diverse than that.”
With plans on the horizon to expand his brand into homeware, high jewellery, and leather goods, its clear that Marco Panconesi isn’t putting himself into a box any time soon – not even a jewellery one like his grandmother’s.
Where can I find it? Online at MATCHESFASHION.COM, Farfetch and SSENSE, and in selected stores worldwide.