Inspiration and Career Advice from Ferragamo’s Jewelry Designer


Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

Five years after launching her eponymous, nature-inspired jewelry collection,Daniela Villegas is bringing her gorgeous aesthetic to Ferragamo’s runway jewelry line, too. Here, we catch up with the Mexico native to hear about how she got into the jewelry industry, where she finds her inspirations, and what it’s like to collaborate with Ferragamo creative director Massimiliano Giornetti.

When did you start designing jewelry and what inspired you to pursue it?

All my life, I’ve been drawn to jewelry. My great grandmother was a collector of jewelry so I grew up with that, playing with necklaces with my twin sister. When I was around 10 years old, [I started] making jewelry with fine beads and silver and buying plastics and amethysts from flea markets and selling them to my mother and grandmother’s friends. When I decided to go to college, I started studying business administration and, obviously, I was terrible at it. So then, I decided to move into jewelry design—I started working for other companies in fashion and designed jewelry for them. And when I moved to Los Angeles almost eight years ago, that’s when I decided to start my own company with my own ideas and decisions. It’s been a great journey so far. Every day is different.

Did your surroundings inform your creative view? Were you inspired by things you saw growing up?

The thing I love about Mexico is that it’s a very colorful country. I always think about the mix of textures and patterns, how you can put your Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe next to the fruit, next to the newspapers, so it’s always this mix of things.


Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

What other places in your travels have been most influential in your jewelry making?

I really love the mountains. Like, the silence and everything is incredible. And green is my favorite color. It just completely disconnects me and makes me feel at peace, so I go there for design. I also love to go to Paris. For me, it’s a lot of inspiration. I’m always finding an excuse to go.

Tell us about your collaborative process with Massimiliano Giornetti for Ferragamo’s runway jewelry for fall.

We met at an event and we immediately engaged in a memorable conversation. That led to a meeting in Florence where we fell into a collaboration in a very organic way. He introduced me to his team and shared their general direction and inspiration for the collection. After that meeting, I went into an intense creative mode in a cabin in the mountains of Napa Valley and Washington state for a couple of weeks, where I got influenced and inspired by nature and the majestic presence of the landscape.

After several e-mails, phone calls, and exchanges with the product developers, we arrived at the final collection.


Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

How did your personal aesthetic match with the brand’s and Giornetti’s? What measures were taken to resolve any contrasts?

Very early in the process I understood that we made a great team, able to create a perfect balance between the collection’s inspiration and my design aesthetics. It was a real pleasure to work under Massimiliano’s guidance, where I felt supported to express my feelings and ideas. I feel this was the beginning of a good friendship.

Was your partnership with Ferragamo an obvious step in your career?

I don’t think there are any obvious steps. Rather, I believe in hard work and in creating your own opportunities, however, I also believe that we live in a beautiful world that is conspiring to bring magical experiences in very unexpected moment and ways.


Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

Are there any people in the industry who’ve given you advice along the way?

One person who’s helped me a lot and I always took advice from is Ikram Goldman. She’s really been like a godmother. She’s very precise [with her criticism], but always tells you in a very nice way. She’ll say, “I don’t like this because of this and that.” It’s not the type of person that just says, “Oh, I like it.” She always tells you why and I feel that’s very valuable.

What are your first memories of Ferragamo? What do you admire most about the brand?

My great grandmother, who inspired me to become a jewelry designer, used to wear a lot of Ferragamo shoes. Lucky me, she and I have the same size of feet, so I had the opportunity to keep some of her shoes. They still look very new and the quality is amazing! So when I was designing for the brand, I felt the pressure to create something unique and timeless but modern at the same time, to recreate the same memory I have of my Ferragamo moments.


Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

When it comes to personal style, what’s most important to you?

For me, jewelry comes first. I’m into black because it’s easy for traveling, it’s always elegant, and it’s a perfect for jewelry. But at the same time, I live in L.A. Being in black all day in L.A. is strange. Everyone’s like, “Are you sad or what’s going on?” When I go to Europe, I’m in dresses 100 percent of the time. I feel prettier, sexier, and they fit better for my body. When I’m in Mexico City, I’m more into pants and dresses because I know the lifestyle and I’m with my family, so it’s different.

What’s next for you?

Working on my own brand, developing new ideas and concepts. I’m open to new horizons and adventures. I’m a very passionate person and I like to live my life like it’s my last day on Earth.

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