Browse all
Nothing is ever stable Interview with Marco Panconesi

In a luxury fashion industry undergoing an identity crisis, the world of jewelry appears as a stable beacon. Throughout its history, jewelry has accompanied humanity, and just like gold ages but does not corrupt, the art of jewelry never loses its relevance but continues to adapt, filtered from era to era by the minds of ever-new designers. One of these is Marco Panconesi, an Italian prodigy designer who, after years working for major luxury names, became the Design Director of Swarovski and founded a cult jewelry brand bearing his name. His creations have a deceptive simplicity: behind their circles and spirals lies intricate architecture, and the overarching concept to which they all refer in their essential components (gold, silver, pearls, gems, crystals, and enamel) is «the sense that nothing is ever stable and your perspective changes every time you move». Panconesi's jewelry thrives on this ever-changing nature: they are more integrations than ornaments of the body, elements that move with it like the draping of a garment. «I like to find the balance between scientific and spiritual discovery», explains the designer. «Jewelry is an interesting entry point for this because it has no functional limitations, yet it has a closeness to the body as it must move with it». And if the scientific nature of Panconesi's work lies in the study of closures, gems, techniques, and processes, the spiritual has to do with «a spiritual connection to colours and textures that form an emotional attachment to a stone over another».

Jewelry as symbols of a transitory reality, in perpetual flux, connected by unequivocal yet mysterious paths to people's «emotional feelings and spiritual attractions», but also (perhaps unintentional) products of an era where perspectives and readings multiply immeasurably, expanding to the borders of uncertainty. Following this concept of jewelry that follows and changes with the body, Panconesi has introduced into his creations an ancient and unusual technique, en tremblant jewelry. «It’s a French term. It means “to tremble”. It’s a commonly used diamond setting technique in the 18th and 19th century for high jewelry, especially brooches», explains the designer. «The diamonds are attached to thin metal wire made into a spring. This way, it moves with the body and allows the diamond to catch the light from different angles. It’s part of the way I work, finding modernity in places that belong to heritage and the past». And the past, especially the art of the past, has a strong resonance in Panconesi, who was born in the literal cradle of the Renaissance, Florence. So much so that the thought of his city is present in his mind, and the first two stones he mentions in the interview are «tiger's eye and paesina stone», a sedimentary rock made of compact limestone and clay that, when viewed in section, seems to reproduce the profile «like mountains and valleys. Coming from Florence, I have always been fascinated by the pictorial elements that it has».

And even though there has been a cultural bridge between Florence and Paris since the time of Maria de' Medici, it is natural to wonder why a young and ambitious designer opened his brand in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. «I studied in Italy and eventually found my first internships and jobs working for French houses», he says. «I think both places are ideal for launching independent brands. But since my experience and network have always been in France, it made sense to establish Panconesi in Paris». And, wanting to retrace this experience and network, one would be surprised to find its breadth: for seven years, a freelance consultant and designer; then head of jewelry design at Fenty, an ambitious LVMH project interrupted in the midst of lockdown; for four and a half years, Head Designer of Fendi's jewelry, for three and a half years Design Director of Swarovski, and practically for five years, founder, administrator, and principal creative force behind his own brand.

«The desire to build my own brand came from the fact that I was nourishing ideas that could be transformed into a whole universe», explains Panconesi. «It meant that I could build my own story around it, the aesthetic and community - everything. Whereas working with other brands, the main challenge is to understand the codes and evolve them. You follow a history that’s already made and each season you build the next chapter». Having your own brand also allows for new and interesting expansions: already on the brand's website, there are t-shirts and posters reproducing vintage prints and illustrations of stones, but also tattoo stickers and lighter charm pendants. Soon, leather accessories will be introduced and presented in early December: «The new leather bags have the classic saddle shape and are embellished with dotted metal spheres in crystal and silver. It's a very soft and elegant bejeweled bag. I've always wanted to create another category of accessories that can coexist in the same world as the jewelry collections».

So it is safe to say: jewelry is just the beginning for Marco Panconesi – and certainly not the end. Certainly, his area of expertise, which has known no crisis since the time of the pyramids, remains a stable foundation: that sense of timelessness, of instinctive identity adherence that fashion brands increasingly resort to, jewelry has always possessed – and the public is beginning to understand it. «The jewelry market has grown massively», explains Panconesi. «It’s become a category that people really buy into. Sometimes you buy a piece of jewelry, and you wear it for your whole life. It doesn’t change with the ready-to-wear trends». And as for trends? «We see a return to maximalism and to me that’s really interesting. Overall, it’s going into a more genderless attitude and people are not afraid to wear jewelry these days».

Photographer: Thomas Cristiani at Parent
Photographer Assistant: Matthieu Clément-Lescop
Interview: Lorenzo Salamone

Editorial Director: Elisa AmbrosettiEdoardo Lasala