Marilu Fernandez, Coral Designer
While traveling through Sicily, I had the honor of meeting the creativity and brains behind Marilu Fernandez, a coral design firm that is taking the European fashion accessories industry by storm. I was introduced to the dynamic mother and son duo in their Palermo showroom for a preview party. She is a woman of elegance and refinement, but devoid of the pretentious air that often succeeds. I was taken around the showroom, where we paused at each piece and Gabriele explained, with extensive knowledge, the origin of every stone and the significance of the design. Their excitement and passion for the collection is contagious. True originality is difficult to come by, yet you will easily be surprised and charmed by Marilu's creations.
In a world where globalization is the norm, the Fernandez family takes pride that their entire collection is hand made in Italy. For them, producing anywhere else would be compromising the integrity of their collection. Many years ago, Marilu discovered stones can speak and she realized she could read their magic language. Growing up in Sicily, she was bewitched by the corals, which became the chromatic center of her jewels. Coral, known as "red gold" is the calcareous residue of a small sea mollusk. The coral is found beneath the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Marilu cleverly pairs coral, in its natural form, with precious stones and gold, silver, or bronze. Her whimsical and ethereal designs are inspired by ancient Egyptian jewelry. She has this rare talent with design that allows her to create jewelry that is regal and dramatic, yet maintains the organic nature of the coral.
Marilu Fernandez collection is a family affair first and a business second. Nearly 30 years ago, the company was born in Palermo, Italy. Gabriele, a true gentleman with a great sense of humor, is the only son of the Fernandez family. He resides in the fashion capital of Italy, Milan, to run the family business. His longtime girlfriend often models for the collection.
Marilu Fernandez first exhibited in Milan in 1985 at the "Galleria Meravigli." Her work has been showcased in galleries and museums in London, Brussels, Rome, Paris, Kiev, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Treviso, and Strausborg. In 1991, she was invited to the Museum of Oceanography in Montecarlo.
One of her creations was even featured on the postage stamp of Monaco, and one of her most highly rated necklaces has appeared in an Italian movie.
While the collection is quickly making its mark on the world, it will always have a small distribution, due to the rarity of the materials used and the extensive time that goes into creating each piece of jewelry.
Marilu Fernandez creations are heirlooms that will be passed down from generation to generation. The pieces are directional, and the finished product is one of true quality and impeccable taste, something that never goes out of style.
Mariliu Fernandez's collection is the ultimate in luxury: coral couture that can be worn for an entire lifetime. The necklaces can transform a woman of any age into a showstopper and has already built a reputation as the highest quality coral jewelry among the jet-setting elite.
For Marilu Fernandez, her work in corals is a unique and necessary way of expressing herself. She says of her passion for jewelry:
"There comes a time in people’s lives when the desire to express oneself, the very joy of being alive is beyond the power of mere words. There are some who communicate it through music, some with songs or paintings. I explore the mystery of the beauty of corals, and how this mystery is related to our roots in the forms of the corals, their natural ramifications, and express this through the shapes of my creations."
By Meredith Paslawsky
Edited and Updated by Damyanti January 2009