CIIN’s Exclusive Interview with Bvlgari’s Lelio Gavazza and Time Center’s Samir Kayali
It’s a idyllic evening in Um Uthainah, the leaves rustle as the Jordanian breeze gently blows through them. Or perhaps it’s to the Italian music in the background that the leaves sway to…Probably both. As Kayali Jewelry and Bvlgari celebrate their long lasting partnership and newly renovated boutique, we are reminded of the vibrant relationship that has grown over the years. A solid foundation of trust and respect. Coupled with the flexibility and growth that has allowed the partnership to thrive over the years.
At an event celebrating the reopening of the boutique, an evening of pure Italian bliss CIIN’s Head of Projects Hiba Asaad had the opportunity to sit with the two masterminds, Kayali Jewelry founder Mr. Samir Kayali and Bvlgari Executive Vice President of Sales and Retail Mr. Lelio Gavazza. An exclusive glimpse into the future vision of the two brands and of course the foundation that has made it possible. A partnership forged over three decades ago offered Jordan and the region at large its first glimpses of the now flourishing luxury jewelry market. Sitting in the state-of-the-art Bvlgari boutique, part of the Time Center complex it is easy to forget the tenacity and vision required to achieve this status quo. As Mr. Samir Kayali describes his journey, he is thankful for his ability to hold onto a dream. Where others saw a weak market, unequipped for International luxury jewelry, Kayali saw an opportunity and gap in the market. Bvlgari was the very first brand to be introduced as part of the Kayali Jewelry international strategy, and holds a soft spot for the mega retailer.
The collaboration was more than just a business deal, but rather an evolution of the Jordanian market. In an age of ‘who is bigger and who is better’ one may question the importance of the Jordanian market when compared to other more lucrative outposts. Bvlgari’s Gavazza is quick to remind us of Jordan’s relevance. “Bvlgari has 134 years of history. We have been inspired by 2,700 years of Roman history, so we really care a lot about history, our DNA, our tradition.” Jordan’s authenticity is further strengthened by the Jordanian woman, one that Gavazza describes as “knowing exactly what luxury and fashion mean.” It is hard to bring together three words, women, beauty and empowerment without conjuring images of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, recognized for her humanitarian work and elegance, our Jordanian Queen exemplifies the Jordanian woman. In Lelio Gavazza’s own words, “we’re really lucky to be in a country where our consumers can recognize the product, can recognize our craftsmanship, can recognize our history, can recognize the meaning of our jewelry. We don’t only sell jewelry, we sell a piece of art made in Italy, a piece of history worn from our Roman emperors 2,700 years ago that has been just passed over to the new generation.”
As the two men intrigue us with stories of their respective companies and burgeoning relationship, it is hard to ignore the microphone pin on Lelio Gavazza’s lapel. Made of diamonds and black enamel, it’s instantly recognizable as part of Bvlgari’s latest Wild Pop collection. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Eighties, Wild Pop takes fine Italian workmanship on a rebellious ’wild ride’. just as Warhol was inspired by Bvlgari, Warhol is famously quoted as saying, “When I am in Rome I always visit Bulgari because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.”
An emancipation of sorts from classic jewelry design, the collection embodies the freedom, liberation and beauty of the Warhol’s wild Eighties. A time of redefined beauty and expression of arts. Although there are no Campbell soups in the collection per sei, the vibrance and unexpected nature of the line has been met with cult obsession. Adored by the hard-to-please world of celebrities, including Bella Hadid, Lily Aldridge and Eva Green to name a few, Lelio Gavazza says it plain and simple, “they went crazy for over our products”.
“When I am in Rome I always visit Bulgari because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.” Andy Warhol
To say that Bvlgari gives back to the community, is probably the understate of the year. Its seven year relationship with Save The Children, means that precious early education programs are adopted in some of the most volatile refugee situations worldwide, specifically Jordan’s Zaatari Camp that shelters more than 75,000 Syrian refugees. Bvlgari is the single greatest private donor to Save the Children. What started off as a single ring design to promote the initiative has grown into a number of collections. Bvlgari’s CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin personally visited the camp in 2018 for a first hand account of the developments made, and the future needs of Syria’s youngest generation. It is truly incredible to see how a business endeavor in the world of luxury jewelry between Kayali Jewelry and Bvlgari can ultimately burgeon into a goodwill program to some of the world’s most needy.
When we think about what Kayali Jewelry brings to the market, it is not just about ‘the products’, but also culture and art. It exposes Jordanians to some of the luxury world’s most creative minds. We asked Mr. Kayali to elaborate on this. “Jordanians have good exposure. They have good brand awareness, but the brands were just not present. So what we’re doing is just showing the brands. All you have to do is just show and showcase those brands in Jordan. The awareness is there — as we’ve discovered — the exposure is there, you know people they know the product, they travel, they are really well educated. Jordanians are really well educated about luxury products, and they know the product by heart — even the collections by heart. Sometimes we are surprised by the client when they come and even ask about the Diva collection, so the awareness is there all you have to do is just to provide the exposure for these Jordanians who have this knowledge.”
The newly renovated Bvlgari boutique is located at the Time Center Arcade on Iritria street in Um Uthaina.