Angela Caputi established her Florence-based company in 1975. From her workshop in the historical centre, her business quickly received international acclaim and the Giuggiù label soon broke into the global market. Caputi is now one of the most recognized names in the field of haute couture costume jewelery. In the last four years alone her work has been featured in exhibitions in Florence and New York, most recently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ‘Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection’. Her distinctive pieces, made exclusively from synthetic materials, proudly carry the Made in Italy seal of quality
How did you string together your thoughts for designing jewellery into a worldwide line?
Back when I started designing jewellery in 1975, fashions in Florence were following more conservative trends, characteristic of that time. The majority of bijoux or costume jewellery shops were quite classic, not very stylish or modern. So I turned to American films for inspiration and followed the emerging styles.
It’s usually the other way around: inspiration usually comes from Italy.
Yes, I am also inspired by the beautiful natural landscapes in Italy, particularly those surrounding Florence. The sea and mountains embracing Tuscany nurture my creative impulse. While many ideas for my collections come from contemporary fashion trends, some are also born from the general political climate in Italy. If today’s political mood and fashion is serious, then the colours in my collections are serious.
The recognition you receive for your jewellery designs is impressive—from exhibits at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of New York to the Big Apple’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I have made pieces for the world-renowned clothing and accessory collector Iris Barrel Apfel. Iris travels the world’s boutiques, thrift shops and flea markets in search of unique, eclectic pieces. She also collects vintage pieces like Nina Ricci, Lauren and Lanvin, just to name a few. She then adds unusual jewellery from Turkey, South and North America—and my jewellery creations from Italy. To be part of her exhibit at the Met was an honour.
What materials do you use to make your line individual, unique?
I specialize in coloured plastic, synthetic materials. Even the pieces that look like coral and sea shells are synthetic. All of my materials are made in Italy by Italian suppliers who specialize in buttons and small printing pieces. The jewellery is then assembled in our studio and boutique on via San Spirito in Florence. Thus, every piece in the collection is truly made in Italy. From here it is sold to customers and boutiques all over the world.
You have four boutiques located in elegant centres throughout Italy. One in Forte dei Marmi, another in Milan and two here in Florence. Do you have any plans to open Angela Caputi Giuggiù boutiques around the world?
Paris and New York were both in the plans, but it’s so difficult because we are not a franchise. Maintaining a distinctly high level of quality is my utmost priority, which is difficult to do when you expand.
How do you find new designers? How much of the designing do you still do yourself?
I don’t have designers. I design all of my collections myself. I still design every day. Twelve other people work with me here at our boutiques in Florence. My daughter and son work with me as well.
Do you also design the accessories you sell alongside your jewellery?
No, I only design the costume jewellery. As for the accessories, I choose particular pieces from only a handful of designers from around the world. They are pieces that must inspire customers, as well as me. I do this to let my customers know about new and interesting designers.
Tell me about your typical client. Who wears Angela Caputi?
Definitely an independent woman, generally in her 30s and up. My typical client is not necessarily rich or wealthy, but more likely a cultured and worldly woman who travels. It is a line that men also like to buy for the important women in their lives. Men appreciate the materials I use and find the jewellery designs very interesting. They fall in love with the pieces almost immediately and give Giuggiù pieces as gifts. It is a personal and intimate line because the pieces are one of a kind.
What does Giuggiù mean?
When I was a young child, people called me Giuggiù. It is an Italian term of endearment that means ‘small agreeable thing’. It is used for something that is playful and cute, just like my jewellery.