alighieri rosh mahtani
Alighieri AW20 Campaign. Images by Rosh Mahtani. Portrait courtesy of Alighieri

Meet Rosh Mahtani, Founder of the Inclusive Jewellery Brand Alighieri

The London-based designer won the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design this past February.

During London’s Fall 2020 Fashion Week, an intimate group of industry insiders gathered in the beautiful but eerie crypt in St Etheldreda’s church—a medieval building located in the city’s storied jewellery district of Hatton Garden—to toast the newest recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Past winners Richard Quinn and Bethany Williams were selected based on the merit of their collections and how their companies have implemented practices that benefit people and the planet. Rosh Mahtani, the founder of Alighieri jewellery and this year’s honouree, beamed within the candlelit quarters as she accepted the award from Princess Anne. The Queen’s daughter is an advocate for U.K. design thanks to her long-time role as a Royal Fellow of the Royal Society.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it, and I really wasn’t expecting it,” says Mahtani about the accolade when FASHION interviewed her in March. “I have such admiration for Richard and Bethany, and I was really honoured to be placed alongside them. After it sunk in, I just felt so happy and proud to shine a light on local manufacturing in Hatton Garden.”

Since founding Alighieri in 2014, Mahtani has sourced her materials ethically and employed London-based craftspeople to create her collections—the pieces of which are named after elements of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. (The brand’s moniker comes from the medieval poet’s surname.) And in keeping with Mahtani’s commitment to nurturing the greater good, a portion of Alighieri’s online sales during the COVID-19 crisis were given to the Trussell Trust, a U.K.-based food bank donation organization, and are currently being donated to Refuge, a U.K.-based organization focused on supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Mahtani has no formal training in jewellery making, but she has been able to conceive pieces that delight, inspire and intrigue those who look upon them. Included in her collections are talismanic amulets and earrings crafted to look like something you’d find among the jagged panorama of Dante’s Inferno. And she’s only at the beginning of her brand’s saga. “There’s so much that I’d like to do; I have so many ideas,” she says. “Ultimately, I want everything I create to be true to our story—to build communities and dialogue through objects.”

What was your earliest defining style moment?

I made a white camisole with spaghetti straps out of scrap material when I was a kid and wore it every day for an entire summer. I think that’s when I knew I loved wearing things my own way.

What’s the one everyday style item you can’t live without?

A black slip-dress. I wear slip-dresses with sneakers all summer and layer them under an oversized cashmere jumper all winter. They’re my go-to.

If you could raid one person’s closet, whose would it be?

Mary-Kate Olsen’s. Her array of oversized and tailored pieces, along with her vintage jewellery, would be the best treasure trove.

What do you think is the most exciting fashion moment happening right now?

I love that fashion is becoming more conscious of humanity in general—trying to find ways to create pieces that last forever, thinking about how and where pieces are made, reinventing things that already exist. Alongside this, I love that the industry feels more open to designers and models from different cultures. This is really exciting to me because we have the power to change so much with our reach.

If money was no object, what item would you want to add to your wardrobe?

I always try to invest in pieces that I can wear again and again. If money was no object, I would love to design and make a capsule of ready-to-wear for my wardrobe: the perfect suit, slip-dress, oversized shirt and jumpers—all created out of sustainable materials and made in the U.K.

What fashion item do you treasure the most?

I have a white suit designed by Louise Trotter at Joseph that was done in collaboration with Colette. It’s limited-edition, and I only wear it on very special occasions.

If you could live in one era because of its fashion, what would it be?

I’d like to be an adult in the ’90s wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, slip-dresses and dungarees. That’s my dream wardrobe.

What’s the best piece of style advice you’ve ever been given?

If it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t wear it.

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