Versace designer Giorgio Galli has a passion for designing detailed and beautiful watches
Article by: Bonnie Siegler
Leave it to Versace to make sure that even your wrist dazzles. And leave it to Italian-born Giorgio Galli to ensure the brand’s glamorous, sophisticated styles are still coveted and scrutinized by collectors and those who just love wearing watches.
At age 49, Galli, a graduate of the renowned Art Institute of Florence, now lives in Milan, Italy with his wife and two children. He continues to design Versace watches and reign over the Timex Group, which took over licensing for Versace seven years ago.
“I’ve been with Timex as a consultant for 15 years,” says Galli from his offices at the Giorgio Galli Design Lab. Watches have been his number one passion for decades, and over the past 20 years, he has developed a unique expertise with many bestsellers for some of the biggest watch brands in the industry, such as Movado, Seiko, Citizen and Nautica.
Learning about luxury
Galli admits that working up the timepiece ladder was a long process. “When I was 19, I did a project for LucasFilm in San Francisco, then was with Invetimenti Group for a few years, which was my first experience in watches, back in 1991. So before I began with Versace, I had enough experience to bring my watch designs up to luxury.”
Galli’s passion for the watchmaking craft, a niche that almost went into extinction back in the 1970s, comes from an early age. “It is something that grows inside,” he explains of his passion for making luxury designs. “I’ve always loved watches, and I used to buy a lot of them, even before I began working in the industry. I think it’s a real passion for men…we start to buy one, then the next and the next. Watches are an incredible piece of art, and the designs of some of the high-end watches are just incredible.”
From his headquarters in Milan, Galli works closely with Donatella Versace, the company’s Vice President, chief designer and fashion creator. “She is very influential,” says Galli of Ms. Versace’s influence over the brand. “We have meetings with her and her staff, and she dictates most of what we do here. All the inspiration comes from her in terms of shapes, material, colour…Of course, we have to translate what she has in mind into a watch, so that’s our main goal, basically. She has a very strong presence in the designing of the watches.”
Explosion of colours
Looking ahead for this year, Galli forecasts: “Both in Versace fashion and watches, we have colours as a strong element into the design…very glamorous. The main point is really colour – colour dials, colour straps, and we’ve been expanding the colour line. So we have yellow, fuchsia pink, red—which is very strong—light blue and of course, white, which is still a very strong colour in watches.”
With colour in mind, Galli begins working and conceptualizing with sketches or 3-D renderings. He plans each task in an extremely meticulous way, embracing a total vision of the project, including the positioning, the strategy and the reasons for his design choices in direct relation to the brand.
Galli is also keenly aware of competing with less expensive watches when he applies technology and creativity to the Versace brand. He says he designs with a person in mind who is confident, strong, stylish and has the means to purchase a luxury timepiece.
“It also depends on the categories, of which we have several in the line…some are more sporty luxury watches, while others are more elegant. So each has a different spirit within the DNA of Versace,” he says. “I’m doing many brands with many price points. However, with Versace, it’s a completely different process. It doesn’t diminish other watches, because inspiration can come from anything, to be honest; life is full of revelations and creativity. Most of all with Versace, everything is driven by the inspiration we take from the Versace shows, fashion and designs. I think that brand has a very precise customer and is easy to identify.”
When a man puts on a Versace silk shirt, it instantly transforms his image. Galli says the same is accomplished with a Versace watch: “Again, the elements of Versace – the Medusa head, the Greek markings – design elements reflect the image of Versace. They immediately tell the story, there are so many elements that make up the Versace world. It’s also important to have an eye for detail in a very precise and sophisticated way.”
So how would Galli describe a Versace watch in three words or less? He laughs. “Well, I would say glamorous,” he says. “That’s a perfect word to describe Versace. Creative is another element—and fun. Always fun.”
In Canada, Versace watches are distributed by Carmen Jewellery. “Two years ago we saw the collection at Basel and loved it,” says National Brand Manager Mark Friedman. “They’re doing really well, and we’ve opened another 15 dealers in Canada.”Friedman is very enthusiastic about Versace watches. “The attention to detail and commitment to the finest quality co-exist in every Versace creation. And we’re proud to represent the brand,” he says. [CJ]