Francesca Visconti Flavia Masson
Franscesa Visconti (www.francescavisconti.com/) is a renowned jewelry and handbag designer whose classic designs have been influenced by her eclectic background and have been sold at luxury powerhouses such as Bergdorf Goodman.
Born in Egypt, Francesca Visconti grew up in Cairo, Rome and New York. She speaks four languages and currently splits her time between Manhattan and Milan. Visconti has two children with restaurateur Charles Masson.
Her daughter, Flavia Masson, is an actress who runs Visconti’s Manhattan office.
The Fashion Spot recently caught up with Flavia to give us an inside peak into her mother’s line of bold jewelry.
tFS: Can you tell me a little bit about how the Francesca Visconti line got started?
Flavia: When my mother was growing up in Egypt, she used to collect rocks and stones that she would find in the souks, and always had a fascination with their colors and textures. She moved to New York when she was 9 and while in New York, she took classes on how to make jewelry. I still have some of her very first pieces that she made while she was a teenager, and they’re amazing! Eventually she made the right connections and started her own line. She now lives in Milan, and is working on opening her first shop in Gstaad, Switzerland.
tFS: What materials are used for the jewelry pieces and what are the price points? Are there any signature pieces?
Flavia: My mother uses 18kt gold, mostly yellow gold, with precious and semi precious stones. She also works with wood a lot. I love when she mixes wood with gemstones! It’s unexpected, which is what makes those pieces so unique and beautiful. A lot of pieces are one of a kind, but we do have some signature pieces, such as our Ebony Wood Ring with Zircons. We call it our “VIP” ring because some of the most stylish women in Manhattan and Milan own it!
tFS: Can you describe a typical male and female client?
Flavia: The men who shop with us either buy cufflinks for themselves, and those are the banker and Wall Street-types mostly, or they’re very considerate husbands who stop by to pick something up for their wives! The women are always very stylish, many of them European, and a good number of them are involved in the arts. The woman who wears a Francesca Visconti piece of jewelry is a woman who likes to make a statement, and likes to stand out from the crowd, all the while remaining approachable – just like my mother!
tFS: Have any celebrities or socialites been photographed in Francesca Visconti pieces?
Flavia: Yes, without naming names, a very famous talk-show host, a singer who recently was on tour in Las Vegas, and numerous women who have graced the pages of glossy magazines….
tFS: How can someone purchase pieces from the collection?
Flavia: Let’s make this very easy: call (212) 593-6106, the number of the showroom, and make an appointment with me!
tFS: What are some of the day-to-day things you take care of?
Flavia: One of the most important things is to keep up with the Francesca Visconti clients and maintain a good relationship with them. I also organize trunk shows, sometimes I have clients who stop by the showroom. I send editors new images of our jewelry, and I’m always running around the jewelry district to find stones. I’ve recently begun to design a few pieces as well.
tFS: How did your deal with QVC come about?
Flavia: We’re very lucky to be on QVC! A good friend of ours had connections there and QVC liked our jewelry, one thing led to another and next thing we knew we were on TV selling faux versions of our jewelry and other high-quality fashion jewelry pieces that were designed for the QVC customer. My mother is very camera-shy, and I’m not, so I’m mostly on the air selling the pieces and I love it! My dream is to one day be on the air with Joan Rivers!
tFS: Were you worried that your partnership with QVC would alienate some of your high-end costumers?
Flavia: No, because each line is designed with a different customer in mind. Some people only wear fine jewelry, and others prefer fashion jewelry, and some (like me) wear both!tFS: I imagine when dealing with high-end jewelry, good selling skills are key. Has being an actress helped you in that respect?
Flavia: Haha, I can get in trouble with this question! I don’t like to think of myself as a salesperson, but knowing how to express yourself is key. If I see a woman who looks great with one of our necklaces on, I will find the best way to tell her that. I can’t just say: “Oh my God honey, you need to buy that!” There is definitely a certain way to talk to people. So I guess having an acting background does help.
tFS: Where do you see the Francesca Visconti line going in the future? Are you expanding your offerings?
Flavia: I think that we’re going to be more and more international. My mother’s best and most loyal clients have always been here in the States, and we will always keep a showroom here for them, but now that she lives in Italy mostly, she would like to also venture out and find some women abroad who might need a ring or two…
Photos courtesy of Francesca Visconti.