Rosh Mahtani is a London-based jewellery designer and founder of the brand Alighieri. Upon graduating in French and Italian from Oxford University, she was inspired to create modern heirlooms, born from the literature she had studied: Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” in particular. She spent two years working with stylists and in e-commerce, all the while, dreaming of her collection, and creating it by night. Alighieri was officially launched in 2014. Just like Dante’s subjects, each piece of jewellery is battered, imperfect, and a little bit melancholy. Every piece tells a story, embodying a modern heirloom, that will travel with you on your own adventures. She is always interested in collaborating with other writers, designers and artists. Alighieri is currently stocked on Matches Fashion, Net-a-Porter, Liberty, and more than 80 other boutiques worldwide.
EC: What inspired you to first start designing jewellery?
RM: I couldn’t find jewellery that I wanted to wear or afford. I wanted to make things that had a story for me, to wear and layer together. I wanted to wear layers and layers of medallions and things that were fractured and broken - not perfect, so I was doing it because I was making things I wanted to wear and couldn’t find anywhere else.
EC: I feel like you really started that trend, you stand out and have a special place in the jewellery world.
RM: Thank you Eudon, that’s really sweet! It’s kind of everywhere now!
EC: Which materials do you like to work with?
RM: We make everything in wax first, which is my favourite part, I love it. I carve it into little sculptures, then we cast it in recycled bronze or silver before it is gold plated. I love it to feel like it has been dug up from the ground, like it has already had a story and been through a life of its own.
EC: Who or what do you look to for inspiration?
RM: I look to the people that I know for inspiration, the women around me. But also strangers, I love just looking on the street at what people are wearing, older ladies I find really inspiring. The layers that they’ve collected through their lives and the stories behind them. I love that.
EC: Your jewellery has such sculptural elements, who is your favourite sculptor?
RM: Oh my gosh I have so many! I love Isamu Noguchi. Of course Barbara Hepworth!
EC: Alighieri launched a new collection last week called ‘The Roots,’ can you tell us a little bit about it? The campaign images are beautiful, you shot it right?
RM: Yes I did, thank you so much Eudon! ‘The Roots’ is about what makes us who we are during this time. I think everyone has used this time to reflect on what you want in your life, who you are as a person and what means something to you. I really wanted to shoot the collection on real women, and they would recommend we shoot on their friends, and it became really organic. I really wanted to hear their stories, go back to their roots and what makes people who they are. At the same time try to rediscover myself and what makes me who I am too. All the shapes (in the jewellery) are like roots growing underground - like building new, stronger relationships with people.
EC: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
RM: Meeting you! … I don’t know, that’s a really hard one actually. It hasn’t been just one moment; I think it has been lots of little moments. But genuinely, I think one of my highlights is everyone coming back to work and the studio after the first lockdown!
EC: I thought you were going to say getting awarded by Princess Anne with the Queen Elizabeth II award?
RM: That was the most stressful thing in the entire world! We had two weeks to make that show.
EC: Which woman do you find most inspirational and why?
RM: I think my mum because she’s always positive. She always looks for the joy in the little things and I think that that’s amazing. I strive to be like that, and she has really nice skin.
EC: What do you do away from work to relax?
RM: I like to take photographs, that is my favourite. I love just travelling with my camera.
EC: Did you teach yourself?
RM: Yeah, I don’t really know what I’m doing but I like just playing.
EC: Has your personal style changed during the pandemic?
RM: I feel for the first time recently like I want to get dressed up, which is not even me at all. But now I want to make an effort and I want to get dressed up. So I’m looking forward to that. But no, I definitely do have a uniform, as you well know!
EC: Which I love!
EC: What song is on repeat in the studio?
RM: A lot of Fleetwood mac.
EC: EUDON CHOI has for years looked at architecture as a source of inspiration. If you could live in any building in the world, what would it be?
RM: Ghost ranch! Or Georgia O’Keefe’s house in Mexico. It would be my dream to visit it and live there.
EC: We actually did a collection back in the day inspired by Georgia O’Keefe!
EC: What is your favourite restaurant in London and what do you order?
RM: I love Luca in Farringdon. It’s so good I love the pasta there, especially the tagliatelle, the arrabbiata, the ravioli, all of it!
EC: What drink do you order?
EC: What podcast would you recommend for a long walk? And what’s your favourite green space in the city?
RM: Katy Hessel, Great Women Artists Podcast is amazing. She goes into the life of a female artist each episode and it’s so good. For green spaces, I love Hampstead Heath because I grew up around there.
EC: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt during the pandemic?
RM: I learnt to just breathe a bit and that it’s okay - you can’t plan everything. It’s going to be okay, hopefully. It slowed me down, not travelling made me appreciate the magic of seeing new places and how I took it for granted. How special it is, also, to be able to see your family and sit down in your house together and not worry about the virus.
EC: What gives you hope for the future?
RM: People give me hope for the future. People’s optimism and kindness.