Delfina Delettrez Fendi is a designer and jeweler based in Rome. She is a granddaughter of Anna Fendi - an Italian fashion designer and entrepreneur, who created the Fendi brand along with her sisters Alda, Carla, Franca and Paola; and a daughter of Silvia Venturini Fendi - creative director of accessories, menswear and children at Fendi, and the only family member still working at this historic Italian business.
A fourth-generation Fendi heiress, Delettrez spent her formative years absorbing creative influences from her family and the luxury fashion house. Traveling between Rome and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a child, Delettrez attended an American high school before undertaking three internships at Chanel Haute Couture in Paris, an experience that she credits for having developed her creative vision and style.
Since the inception of her jewelry brand in 2007, Delfina has developed a signature perspective. Made from precious metals and gemstones, Delettrez’s Surrealism-inspired designs consist of animal, insect and skull motifs, alongside her now signature eye design.
Delettrez’s latest work explores a more conceptual sense of the surreal: instead of adding, she now subtracts, viewing precious stones as self-sufficient and creating “phantom settings” which give the illusion of fine jewels floating around the body.
In 2009 Louvre’s Muséedes Arts Décoratifs in Paris purchased the “Kiss a Frog” ring and “Original Sin” bracelet to be part of the permanent collection in the Jewelry section, making Delettrez the youngest designer to be showcased at the venerated museum.
It was a pleasure interviewing Delfina, talking about her inspiration by nature, and the way she contaminates the classical jewelry tradition by infusing a big dose of creativity, freedom and the codes of her generation.
How do you see your background?
DDF: Born in Rome, raised in between Rome and Rio de Janeiro. I always say I was raised of milk and fashion. I had the privilege to be born and raised in an amazing family, under a constant creative wave and a feminine influence, which made me become very sensible to what woman are looking for.
What made you decide to create your own jewelry brand?
DDF: It began with a personal drive and my own desire. When I first began over 10 years ago, I started reflecting what a woman like me would want to wear. And it’s the same question I still ask myself whenever I create a new piece today.
I could never find the answer by looking at what the jewelry world had to offer. Nothing seemed oriented towards my taste, my energy or my generation. It became clear that if I wanted to start wearing jewelry, it would have to be my own creations. Every time I was trying on a piece of fine jewelry I immediately felt it didn’t belong to what I was looking for, as the jewelry world compared to the fashion world that I know so well, seemed to traditional and classic. I wanted to infuse the fine jewelry with a big dose of creativity and freedom. This is why I like to contaminate the classical codes of the jewelry tradition with my generational codes, such as the concept of the piercing, elevating it into a finer version; crafting the classics of tomorrow.
How much does the Italian jewelry making heritage means to you personally?
DDF: I‘ve chosen to settle my company in Rome because I wanted to have the chance to contaminate the Italian traditions of the jewelry craft. I’m always looking for unknown techniques to apply in my collections. I’ve worked with micro mosaic, I’ve made cuffs molded by hand out of Carrara marble... I like to contaminate and mix these materials with new and modern designs. Giving them a new look and actualize these techniques.
Where is your jewelry produced? Does the Italian jewelry making heritage help you in your work?
DDF: My jewels are all made in Italy, more precisely made in Rome, with a mix of classical goldsmith techniques and innovations like 3D printing. Skilled goldsmiths provide me with the best possible quality, and respect my precise, 360° vision of each creation.
Pease tell us about your inspiration in figurative Surrealism and your fascination with natural iconography.
DDF: Nature is the most crazy, inspiring and dynamic art piece on earth. I am constantly inspired by it. I wanted to speak the surreal language as it speaks about freedom. I love to see my clients wearing gold eyes crawling from their ears.
What is your favorite piece from all your collections?
DDF: I am very much attached to the piercing earring, with which I’ve introduced the concept and the trend of the single earring 8 years ago; a trend which continues to survive nowadays and has been ”accepted” from the jewelry world. It has now become an iconic piece of mine. The Piercing twists the convention of a pair of earrings offering a woman the choice to adorn herself with just one, or wear a mismatched pair. It is about the freedom to create your own personal combination.
Which contrasts do you find the most inspiring?
DDF: The contrast between materials, noble and organic, mixing olive tree wood with gold and diamonds is an example. To me the preciousness of an object is not only in the material itself, but also in the design and concept.
How is your jewelry worn?
DDF: In a very personal and dynamic way. My client is a woman that resembles me much.
I like to imagine her leaving her house wearing nothing and coming back home covered in jewelry because she carries jewelry in her bag, wears and changes them during the day accordingly to her mood and needs. I don’t like the distinction between day or evening jewelry. My jewelry, even though precious, is clean and sharp. Finding the balance between preciousness and design.
Please tell us one inspiring story behind your designs.
DDF: One evening I was at a formal dinner in a beautiful Roman garden. At some point the woman sitting in front of me starts to compliment my brooch. I was quite confused as I wasn’t wearing any brooch that night, until I looked down and saw the biggest black beetle (Coleoptera) trapped on my lace dress! She naturally thought I was wearing one of my creations.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
DDF: In 2010 I was asked from the Musée des arts Décoratifs of the Louvre to donate two of my one of a kind pieces for their permanent collection. This happened after only three years of career, making me the youngest jewelry designer showcased at the museum.
*The story "Crafting the Classics of Tomorrow" by Tanja Beljanski first appeared in the April 2020 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.