The brand takes its name from the Latin Rubeus meaning ‘red’, a colour associated with life’s energy and with passion. By assonance it also recalls a ruby (rubinus), whose etymology is also linked to the same colour. Thanks to the intuition of Russian-born designer Nataliya Bondarenko, herself passionate about art and architecture and a lover of Italian and its culture, Rubeus Milano was born in 2013.
From the very start, Nataliya’s vision was to create an all-round luxury brand (her bags made of precious materials such as crocodiles and which are often studded with precious stones are iconic); thus, her brand includes not only clothing and leather goods but also high-end perfumes and priceless jewellery. Her ‘Imperial’ collection shown at the Louvre in 2019 in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs was dedicated to the incredibly rare Alexandrite of the Urals stone –which has the particular characteristic of changing colour depending on the light that shines upon it. Unlike anything else in the world, this collection was made up of 37 Alexandrite stones, the most important of which (weighing in at 69.37 carats) was used as the central stone of an extraordinary necklace designed by French designer Frédéric Mané working in partnership with goldsmith sculptor Jothi-Sèroj Ebroussard.
This artistic-stylistic journey whose protagonists include founders of the brand, Nataliya and Viktor Bondarenko and designer Frédéric Mané and his team, has refined over the years with new collections, motifs, and themes. This admirable synergy between the founders of the brand and its designer Fréderic Mané is the result of a correspondence of feelings and ideals and also of an empathy that bears its fruit in all the collections. During the presentation of the latest high-end jewellery collections at the new Rubeus Milano showroom located in Via Bigli 2, Milan, I deliberated over the common thread that links three of their collections.
An admiration for Italian Cathedrals forms the basis of the inspiration which is manifested through the Duomo collection – declined in yellow, pink and white gold embellished with pavé diamonds and other precious stones such as jasper, amethyst, coloured sapphires and coral amongst many others. All of which serve to highlight the perfection of the geometry that the artists of the Bel Paese hold so dear. The perspective, the three-dimensional play infuses these jewels with an almost mystical dimension that inevitably reflects on the wearer.
The collection is in fact inspired by the pictorial cycle of Brunelleschi’s Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, over 3600 square meters of frescoes wonderfully executed by Giorgio Vasari and completed by Federico Zuccari.
The frescoes are distributed through the eight vertical segments of the dome, each of which is indicated by a number and is oriented according to the cardinal points.
Geometry and numerology: known as the number of perfection, seven here is complemented by the eighth segment which itself is dedicated to Jesus Christ and the celestial court, protagonists in the Last Judgement. Vasari was called an “instrumentum regni”, that is, an instrument of government, since at that time religion, art, and power came together in harmony.
Churches and cathedrals were seen to watch over people like guardian angels, and often featured guardian lions on their exteriors. There was even an ancient belief that lions slept with their eyes open and therefore were always alert. The lion is also the king of animals, a symbol of courage and majesty. In the past, a lion has also been associated with Jesus – in the Apocalypse, Christ is referred to as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”. As mentioned in the Physiologus (Naturalist), a text written in Alexandria, Egypt, between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, Jesus rose from the dead after three days much like the lions who were believed to be dead but came back to life when their father blew on their faces three days later. The lion is also known as the symbol of divine justice. Thus, the connection between the Duomo collection and the “His Majesty the Lion” collection is clear.
The column-bearing lions guard the doors of the cathedrals and protect the sancta sanctorum but are also a warning to the forces of evil. During the Middle Ages, civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction cases were discussed in the churchyard in front of gates which were framed by guardian lions (inter leones et coram populi, that is, between the lions and the assembled people).
But the lion is also an ambivalent symbol, as is Fortune, whose true meaning is not only good luck but also destiny.
For the ancient Romans, Fortuna was the goddess of chance and luck – a dual character. “O fortuna velut luna statu variabilis” (O Fortune, like the moon you are changeable), is recited in the Carmina Burana, a body of medieval poetic texts dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1937 these same poems were set to music by composer Carl Orff.
Fortune can change and, like the eponymous wheel, it is unpredictable: in fact, the term luck derives from the Latin “fors” meaning ‘fate’.
Thus we arrive at the conclusion and the closing of the circle. Starting from a cathedral – a symbol of purity and spirituality- it invites us to be as cautious as the lions on-guard because the luck that we may encounter may be good or bad. The wheel represents the eternal becoming of this mystical circle which is symbolised by the rose windows of Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.
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Article edit by Laura Astrologo Porché