Jewelry brand Alighieri was born from Rosh Mahtani's deep fascination with Dante's "Divine Comedy". As a student of French and Italian literature, she was captivated by the story of a lost young poet trying to find his way in a dark world. Inspired by this timeless and relatable ordeal, Rosh created a collection of pieces that bring Dante's words to life, moulded into beautiful gold medallions and charms. We spoke with her about the Alighieri journey, which will have another chapter come January 23rd, 2020, with the launch of a new Alighieri pop up at 10 Corso Como New York.
What drew you to Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”?
I loved the Divine Comedy because it’s a story about being lost in a dark wood, which I think everybody can relate to. I was going through a rough time in my life, and his poem was almost like a comfort blanket for me. That’s when I decided that I wanted to make one piece for each of his poems. I’ll always love the opening quote:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
che la via diritta
With this inspiration, why did you decide to launch a jewelry brand?
It all happened very organically. I dreamt of creating wearable objects inspired by literature. I loved writing and photography and thought, if I start making one piece of jewellery for each of Dante’s poems, I could write and create books and play with objects. That’s when I started, and it all really fell into place.
Who is the “Alighieri” woman?
What I really love about Alighieri is that it’s a way of bringing people (of all difference ages and backgrounds) together through objects. I love that inspiring women in their 60’s wear the Lion Medallion, as an emblem of all the adventures they’ve lived through; as does a 16 year old, who has all her ambitions for the future. That is really magical for me. I don’t have one particular wearer in mind, and the variety of stories I hear from my customers is truly inspiring.
Tell us about this particular collection.
This collection is inspired by the idea of home, and what that means in a world where we move around so frequently. I spent my childhood in Zambia before moving to London, and have spent time living in Australia, Italy and France. For me, the idea of home is the connections and friendships we build, and the talismans we carry that bond us together. “Where is Home?” is a celebration of unity, that transcends all cultures.
You had your first runway show in September last year - what was that like?
It was so incredible; I’d been dreaming of putting together a runway show that felt like a spiritual ritual for a long time. Seeing it come to life was incredibly emotional; we had women of all ages, from all over the world tell the Alighieri story.
What made you decide to add shoes to your collection?
I love telling the Alighieri story through all sorts of objects. I liked the idea of creating talismanic shoes, so that you could literally walk with courage.
Do you have a favorite piece?
One of our key pieces is the Leone Medallion. It’s inspired by the first canto of the “Divina Commedia”, when Dante wakes up, lost, in the selva oscura, afraid and alone. He is confronted by a lion who is described as being so terrifying, that even the air around him is trembling in fear. Dante turns on his heal, to give up hope, and at this point, his guide - the great Virgil - appears. He tells Dante to be brave, and it’s a really poignant example of fear turning into courage. I made the Leone medallion as a reminder to myself to be courageous. When people started buying it, they would write to me and tell me why they were buying it, what they needed courage for, and that’s how the “Lion Club” community was born. This is the core of Alighieri - connecting with people through objects and stories.
What does your typical day look like?
Mental! There isn’t really a “typical day” in the Alighieri studio, every day is different. I go from meeting to meeting, making new collection in between, dreaming up shoot ideas, travelling to locations to create the Look Book, working closely with my amazing team to manage the various collaborations we’re creating. I love the variety of it all.
What’s your favorite thing about living in London?
The diversity and the feeling that you can create anything, build a business from scratch, collaborate with amazing artists.
What’s your favorite thing about NYC?
New York is such a seminal landscape, I feel like I know it so well from movie references as a child, it represents success and pure energy.
What are three things that bring you joy?
Music (Cat Power, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Doillon); laughing hysterically with my friends; working hard and watching Alighieri grow.
What does 10 Corso Como mean to you?
The magic of Carla Sozzani.
Shop there collection here