Franco Pianegonda is the Richard Branson of jewelry.
In Milan, where you can suffer from designer overkill after a mere one-block stroll down Via Montenapoleone, Pianegonda manages to stand out not just because of his daring designs, but because of his brash, on-your-face (not a typo) attitude. His battle cry is Leave A Mark, and trust me, he walks his talk.
You know you're not in Cartier or Van Cleef and Arpels anymore when Franco touts his line with such Surprising ads as the one below (and despite the overt silliness, this ain't costume jewelry he's pitching; Pianegonda bling mixes gold, silver and diamonds of all colors).
Spending way too much time--and money, but that's another story--in his Milan boutique, what really got me was his corporate philosophy guide, tauntingly titled Don't Read!
Well, I did, and this glossy, eye-popping magazine was as insightful a marketing book as I've read all year. And way up there on the entertaining scale. In it, as type and photos battle for your attention, Pianegonda tosses out a series of "Don'ts" (in essence, warnings we've all heard in our quest for Pow!) and follows them up with contradictory, defiant pleas of passion. Two of my favorites:
Provocation can be liberating. Because not only does it challenge others, it is a challenge to oneself.
DON'T BE AN ITALIAN!
We may be chaotic, emotional and unreliable, but that's also made us expert survivalists, proud of meeting new challenges with truly Italian grace.
My suggestion to you on this fine day? Be as wild and outrageous as Franco himself--email him and DEMAND a copy of this magnificent manifesto. Or if you've got a good long distance plan (or Skype), call him at 011 39 0444 613000.
A real find. And a new fave at Surprise Central.