24 Hours With… Alighieri
Known for her talismanic designs inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Rosh Mahtani is the creator behind Alighieri, the jewellery label beloved for their intricate heirlooms and distinctive “artfully battered” aesthetic. A favourite amongst today’s tastemakers, Mahtani’s life reflects her art: inspired by the past but with the mindset of a stylish modern woman. As part of the BFC’s guest edit of A Family Affair, we asked her to transport us into 24 hours in the magical world of Alighieri’s inspiration.
What time do you wake up and where?
I’m an early riser. I like to wake up around 5:30am, when the world is still quiet. I’m in my London flat at the moment.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Coffee! But whilst I make it, I like to cleanse the space; I have some amazing Palo Santo from Momosan Shop, they’re really careful about sourcing it sustainably, which also inspires me when I wake up in the morning.
Do you have any pets?
I have a family dog, a golden Labrador called Millie. She’s my best friend.
What does your average day look like?
Usually, I try to blitz emails in the morning. I catch up with the team during the day, try to shoot still life and work in the wax, preparing upcoming collections. I am often running to and from meetings (or Zoom calls at the moment!) While working from home, I’m packing our e-commerce orders and writing notes to customers, which I love. I usually end my day around 7pm, with a little glass of prosecco.
Do you have any rituals?
I light my candles every evening, it’s my sign to herald in the evening, and blowing them out before I go to sleep feels very spiritual to me. I like to think about all the love around me, and how grateful I am in that moment.
How would you describe what you do?
How has your background influenced who you are today?
I never quite knew where I belonged whilst growing up. My grandparents are from India, my parents grew up on Zambia, I spent my early childhood there before moving to London at the age of 8. This lack of being able to identify has been incredibly important in forming who I am today. I’ve tried to create a community of people and customers from all cultures and places, a world where it’s ok to be vulnerable and a little bit lost.
How did you get your start in fashion?
It all happened very organically. I started making jewellery out of wax, inspired by the Divine Comedy, after studying French and Italian at university. It was all about escapism. I wanted to create a brand that was rooted in literature and stories.
Who has had the most formative influence on your practice?
That’s a great question! I would say, for the first time, I was listening to myself and not looking for outward approval. That was the most formative part of creating.
What are the most important factors in your work?
Honesty and heart.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
I love to walk around and explore with my old Pentax camera, I’m so inspired by landscapes, photography, music, literature. I love drawing on a myriad of different things, from ancient texts to contemporary music and drawing parallels. And of course, I always look to Dante.
Whilst working, where do you go and what do you do to take a break?
I search for light. I like to walk and listen to Fleetwood Mac. Standing in the sun having a moment of quiet is my ideal break. It gives me time to think and ground myself.
Do you have a favourite piece from your current collection?
I really love the Unreal City choker. This collection is called "Love in the Wasteland", drawing on the ways in which Dante inspired T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land. The texture of the castings evokes Eliot’s words of a surreal, unreal time, hazy and nebulous; it feels all too fitting for today’s circumstances.
Can you describe the Alighieri woman?
What I really love about Alighieri is that it’s a way of bringing people (of all different ages and backgrounds) together through objects. I love that inspiring women in their 60s wear the Lion Medallion, as an emblem of all the adventures they’ve lived through; as does a 16 year old, who has all her ambitions for the future. That is really magical for me. I don’t have one particular wearer in mind, and the variety of stories I hear from my customers is truly inspiring.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
Barbara Hepworth’s Writings and Conversations and Amulets. A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine.
What do you usually do for dinner?
I love to make simple Italian food, like a Panzanella salad, and fresh pasta. When I was living in Florence, I’d always hear the phrase, “aglio, olio, basta”; garlic, olive oil and that’s all you need.
What time do you go to bed?
I like to sleep early, it feels like a treat. I’ll usually be in bed by 10pm.
Last thing you do before you sleep?
Spray my pillows with lavender drops, moisturise my face and blow out the candles.
What do you dream about?
So many things! I often dream about my childhood in Africa, collecting stones and searching for treasure.