Bohemian Rhapsody by Michaela Cordes | 3rd December, 2010 | Personalities
Her jewelry is so cheerful it makes you think she pulls her ideas straight out of a multi-colored candy jar. But as a matter of fact, Tamara Comolli gets her inspiration from the brilliant colors of sunny Florida. We decided to take a peek at the bohemian lifestyle of a truly selfmade woman and discover just why less is often so much more.
As a child, Tamara Comolli loved playing with stones on the beach in Gibraltar, where her father started a casino and her mother dressed for evening engagements in exotic saris. Perhaps it was watching her mother getting ready for these occasions that triggered Tamara’s love for all things unconventional and easygoing and taught her to enjoy decking herself out without going overboard. “I grew up speaking several languages and had three sisters and brothers. Traveling around the world with an ambitious father and a dutiful mother we were exposed to many different cultures and mentalities, and learned to be tough and self-sufficient at an early age.” It’s hardly surprising that Tamara Comolli is still a hippie at heart. Her designs have started a small revolution, showing women that they can take a casual approach to real jewelry. GG visited this successful businesswoman, who normally lives with her husband, an advertising film director, and their young son Tim on Lake Tegernsee near Munich in southern Germany, at her beach house in Naples, Florida. Tamara Comolli’s love affair with the place where she goes to relax began 29 years ago when she was in the United States, driving around Florida with a trunk collection in her car. “Passing through the area years later I realized how beautiful it was – the quiet street leading down to the beach beneath big banyan trees – and there was the sign: For rent. It was love at first sight.” The house was a Florida-style bungalow with a tile roof: a beach house in which to sit back and chill. “I rented it sight unseen, got permission to renovate it and deliberately kept it simple. No television, but a computer. Otherwise, I preserved it as a real beach house – casual, relaxed, light and open, no curtains. And with everything in it I needed so that I could travel light. I’m ashamed to admit that we don’t even iron our clothes there; we just put them on as they are. Everything is easy. And best of all, it’s just a couple of minutes from the beach.”
“I had a very colorful childhood, traveling the world with an ambitious father and a dutiful mother, experiencing many different cultures and mentalities.” Tamara Comolli
The jewelry designer may only come here for vacation, but the colors of Florida find their way into her creations again and again. “The light is so different from anywhere else, the colors are so fresh. Then there’s that typical, laid-back feeling you get even though you’re not that far from a regular work environment. You’ve got everything you need here: a business network, shopping, and the airport just 30 minutes away. I think my jewelry reflects this light, unpretentious, easygoing attitude and all the colors created by the incredible sunlight. I can take a quick dip in the ocean, go fishing, watch a shark get caught and then have dinner at a wonderful restaurant. Next day, I go back to work – regenerated. I can walk around like a beach bum or stroll into my garden to see how the water lilies in the pond are doing. Or I can jump in the car and go visit a customer in Miami if I need to.” These qualities are best reflected in one particular collection: “The Mikado Collection with the Flamenco pieces and the turquoise Mikado bracelet – all the pieces so typical of the collection are really good but there’s also a bohemian feel to the Ocean Jasper Collection, with gemstones that represent nature in its purest form. Each stone is unique and embodies a luxurious hippie feeling. That’s something I looked for but couldn’t find in the jewelry world when I was building up my brand. It’s a feeling of moving with the times, of dreaming about what we all dream about: freedom, air, having a space to think and to create. Even when it rains and the sky above the ocean turns nearly black those colors, the likes of which you only see in the Caribbean islands, are really dramatic!”
But what exactly is hippie chic? “Hippie chic is something that I call hippy glam. It’s a mix of casual and luxurious. Everybody knows what it means to be “underdressed” of course. That’s something my boyfriends always accused me of and my husband still does. What I wanted to do was use hippy glam to awaken an awareness for the fact that less is often more and that it’s the accessories that make the difference. For me there’s no such thing as being underdressed, there’s only bad taste. I’ve done the same thing in my beach house, leaving space for new things, for things I could buy later, like my Moroccan puffs, those big huge cushions that Timmi and I sit on in the garden when we’re playing guitar. I saw them at Judith Liegeois’, she’s an Australian right here in Naples who’s very good at mixing modern styles with designer pieces. They’re the color I like using best as a background. Everything looks exactly like what it is on white. When I entertain here on my patio I also like to see a mix of everyone and everything: children playing, dogs running around – a buffet rather than a sit-down meal. My Peruvian housekeeper helps me prepare it – mostly salads – and perhaps a fish I’ve caught myself. I like to scatter cushions on the ground here and there and place lanterns between them. And we listen to the Spanish guitar.
“Being a modern gypsy means feeling at ease with yourself, enjoying nature and leaving off all the artificial stuff…” Tamara Comolli
Yes, way deep down I’m a hippie at heart. Unconventional but ethical. Always torn between necessity and the easygoing lifestyle that I love. My business needs structure and I very much respect the basic rules, but my approach to it and to the people I work with is rather more laid-back. If you accept the gypsy attitude to life, everything goes smoothly. A modern hippie needs less, because she doesn’t feel so bound by necessity. I have always been a rebel, ever since I was a child. I remember being forced to wear penny loafers as a 12-year-old but I stood up for myself and told my mother that they don’t look good on me! Make-up doesn’t look good on me either, and as far as I’m concerned, smearing all that color on their faces makes many women look old. Being a modern gypsy doesn’t mean running around in hippie get-up. It means having a good fundamental attitude toward yourself and toward nature – and leaving out all the artificial stuff. It doesn’t mean you have to forgo luxury. Tomatoes straight from your own garden are delicious!”
When Timmi was born, Tamara Comolli had to force herself to put her BlackBerry away and spend time with him. “If I hadn’t been so determined to build up my brand I would certainly have had five children by now. Luckily I took the time out to have Timmi. He’s my biggest gem. Sure, sometimes it’s hard being a working mom, but I think raising three children and being a housewife is even harder. I take Timmi to school every day and on the weekends we have fun together – and there’s no Blackberry or laptop anywhere in sight!