10 Minutes With: Designer Marco Bicego and Stellene Volandes of Town & Country
June 13, 2016
At Neiman Marcus, we consider each of our designers like family—which is why it was such a joy to host a true family affair at NM King of Prussia’s Zodiac® restaurant with a cooking demonstration by jewelry designer Marco Bicego himself!
While the aroma of his famed fettuccine dish (“A Bicego favorite,” he says) wafted from the kitchen, guests were able to view, try on, and purchase Marco’s new Unico Materica collection in the intimate environment.
One of our favorite moments from the collection’s celebratory dinner party was when we got to sit down with both Marco and special guest, Town & Country magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Stellene Volandes, to find out more about the intricate details of the Unico Materica collection. We learned about the similarities between cooking and jewelry-making and even received details on Marco’s fabulous fettuccine recipe.
Neiman Marcus: How did your love of cooking and passion for food start, Marco?
Marco Bicego: Cooking has always been important to me. As an Italian, a passion for good food is simply part of my DNA; it’s inherent to my lifestyle.
NM: What dishes are most personal for you to cook for your guests?
MB: Well, since cooking is already so personal to me, it’s an activity I like to dedicate to my family and friends. Whenever I have spare time to spend with my wife and kids, you will often find us in the kitchen. Coming together for a meal is a special time that allows us to catch up with one another and reconnect.
My delicious Fettuccine ai Porcini is a recipe that has been a very popular dish in my family. During the holidays, our entire extended family comes over to catch up and enjoy with a great wine pairing. I recommend one of my favorites, Franciacorta.
NM: Is there a connection between cooking and designing? How would you describe it?
MB: I would describe my approach to cooking and jewelry-making as showing a high regard for quality and spontaneity. Just as I like to use the highest quality fresh ingredients in my recipes, I also always turn to the highest quality materials and gemstones when designing. While cooking, you have to continuously taste your food and understand when to add more of an ingredient and when to show restraint. The same goes for designing—I like to keep myself open to spontaneously adding in new materials or gemstones when I feel a piece needs something extra, but also understand when the beauty in a piece lies in its simplicity.
NM: Tell us about your latest collection. We would love to hear how you describe the pieces, shapes, and metals.
MB: I am very excited to debut my new Unico Materica collection, made of landscape jasper, wood opal, and chrysocolla—available #onlyatNM. This collection derives its inspiration and materials from the natural world around us. I have always been attracted to landscapes and endless horizons, where the eye can get lost and the mind along with it!
We also are unveiling our new White Diamond Lunaria collection, which beautifully reinterprets the original Lunaria collection in hand-engraved, 18-karat white gold plates and diamonds. The Lunaria collection is a line born from my love of nature and resembles the gentle movement of petals blowing in the wind. The alternating sequence of plates yields lustrous necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings that translate into elegant and refined styles.
NM: Stellene—it’s a treat to have you here! What most interested you about joining such an exciting event?
Stellene Volandes: Confession—I have never been to King of Prussia. There are two senior editors at Town & Country from Philadelphia who told me it was not to be missed. And then I heard Marco was cooking! His booth at Basel is swarmed at lunch every day.
NM: Hard to narrow it down, we know, but what are a few of your favorite Marco Bicego pieces?
SV: Eagle-eyed readers of Town & Country probably know this already—the multi-strand Africa necklace has appeared multiple times! And the torque necklaces this season with the rough natural stones seem poised to be my new favorite.
NM: Around the Neiman Marcus office, we are also having a major love affair with the Convertible Necklace from the Jaipur collection. Marco—do you think multifunctional pieces will have a larger presence in Marco Bicego collections to come?
MB: Versatility has always been an important aspect of my jewels. I design pieces that are meant to follow the woman from morning to night. Multifunctionality isn’t a fleeting trend, but rather a pillar of my work. The Jaipur Convertible Necklace came from a casual inspiration, and I’m so glad it’s resonating with our customers. I expect my team and I will design similar pieces in the future.
NM: Who is the Marco Bicego woman? How would you describe her spirit?
MB: The Marco Bicego woman is modern and cosmopolitan. She has tremendous personal style, is sophisticated, and isn’t afraid to experiment with different trends while looking for something that can reflect her personality.
NM: How about you, Stellene? In your words, who is the Marco Bicego woman? How would you describe her spirit?
SV: Independent and intelligent are the two words that come to mind.
NM: Could you describe the evolution of Marco Bicego collections from your point of view?
SV: The incorporation of color and stones has been fascinating to watch.
NM: Off-topic, what are your summer holiday plans?
SV: I always spend the last week of August in Greece, and I’m hoping to throw Portugal in the mix this year, as well. Weekends are with my family on the North Fork of Long Island.
MB: I’m so busy that I can never plan too far in advance, but I’m envisioning a stay in an artistic city in Europe. Now that my kids are grown-up, my wife and I can go on holidays that combine the opportunity to relax with the chance to discover and explore interesting places.
NM: What’s one thing that would surprise NM readers the most about each of you?
MB: They would probably be surprised by how involved I am in the creation of my jewels! The part of my working day that I love the most is the time I spend with artisans talking about new materials and shapes. All of the pieces I design have a very personal quality and sentiment. In fact, I designed my wife Valentina’s wedding band of 18-karat yellow gold, and it’s still one of my favorite pieces that I’ve created.
SV: My playlist—but I’m too embarrassed to tell you why!
Of course, we couldn’t resist asking about Marco’s dinner party go-to—his flavorful fettuccine. It’s a robust yet simple recipe that allows him to cook a delicious meal while still entertaining and interacting with guests—and he was kind enough to share his recipe below.
1. Boil a pot of water, adding a handful of salt. Once the water is boiling, add fettuccine.
2. While the fettuccine is cooking, heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add chopped or crushed fresh garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add finely chopped scallions, porcini mushrooms, salt (I like to use fine sea salt), and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, add it into the pan. It’s served best in individual bowls with fresh parsley and Parmesan on top.