The Wardrobe with Gaia Repossi

Gaia is wearing her own vintage Prince of Wales check suit by DIOR HOMME, which she likes to team with her CÉLINE shirt and vintage DIOR HOMME tie.

She wears a black silk tuxedo by TOM FORD, her own cream silk blouse and her father’s grey wool jacket. “Its three-buttoned style makes it look pretty rectangular,” she says, “which I much prefer to waisted ones.”

She wears a black wool coat by McQ over her father’s suit with her own cotton shirt by MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. The tie was also originally her father’s. “I think it’s called a military style,” she says. “I do wear a tie quite often, actually, usually with a shirt and jeans, and always tied in a half-Windsor knot.” Here and in both previous portraits, her earrings and Berber rings are by REPOSSI.

Gaia wears a black cashmere coat by PAUL SMITH over a white silk tuxedo by YVES SAINT LAURENT. The venerable house holds sentimental significance for Gaia’s family. “My mother was a couture client and got married in a short white YSL coat in 1974,” she says. It was Angela Repossi who got Gaia into her first le smoking.

On the right, Gaia wears a black satin tuxedo by STELLA McCARTNEY under a grey wool herringbone coat by MARGARET HOWELL. She finds a cuff or a couple of rings perfectly adequate for everyday wear – here, she’s chose one by REPOSSI. Never a fan of pearl necklaces or diamond solitaires, though, she adds, “It’s also beautiful to just wear no jewellery at all.”

Gaia wears her own vintage jacket by DIOR HOMME with a white cotton shirt by THE ROW and black wool pants by HUGO BOSS. Except for a light dusting of blusher, she rarely wears make-up, and as a novice surfer, she has to watch she doesn’t over-bleach her dark blonde hair during long days spent out on her board with her boyfriend, artist and former Bruce Weber model Jeremy Everett.

“I remember asking my dad, ‘Are you sure this looks OK?’ Menswear’s such a strong look when you’re a schoolgirl.”

Here, Gaia is wearing a white poplin dress shirt and black brocade trousers, both by DOLCE & GABBANA. The ring is by REPOSSI.

Women who have their ultra-stylish mothers to thank for their vintage couture collections and insouciant ways with thrift-shop finds are ten a penny in the fashion industry. Far fewer could say they owe everything they wear to their fathers. But this is literally the case for Gaia Repossi, the elegant creative director of fine jewellers Repossi. Ten years ago, concerned at his teenage daughter’s initial lack of interest in taking on the family design business, Gaia’s father, the master jeweller Alberto Repossi, decided his only child could do with a lesson in ancestral tradition. They started with some lessons in style. Alberto’s, that is.

Italian-born and -raised, he was still using the same Turin tailor to whom he’d been introduced by his father, Costantino, son of G. Pietro, the founder in 1920 of what was then Maison Repossi. Eighty-one years on, Alberto repeated a family ritual by taking his 15-year-old to Ralph Lauren and kitting her out with a capsule wardrobe of suits and blazers that bore a remarkable resemblance to his own. “He bought me little lace-up shoes, like derbies,” says Gaia, now 25. “And I remember asking him, ‘Are you sure this looks OK?’ Menswear’s such a strong look when you’re a schoolgirl.”

It was only once she’d started studying painting at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts that she began to warm to the idea of the family firm. “My father still does requests, but he’s 60 now, and I knew it was his dream I should carry on the business.” She created her debut collection for Repossi in 2007.

What Gaia was soaking up at art school she began pouring into her designs, beginning with patterns lifted from Art Nouveau. It moved up a notch once she started her MA in archaeology at the Sorbonne, which she completed last year with a thesis on the Mohenjo-Daro civilisation. “I’ve been obsessed by archaeology and anthropology since I was 16 and always found the tribal use of jewellery far more intriguing than the materials,” she says. “The cuff is far less prestigious than, say, the bracelet in the fine jewellery industry. Yet in tribal terms, it’s a very meaningful form of adornment.”

This ethnographic approach has given new energy to Repossi and Gaia’s biggest commercial success yet: last season’s Berber. Inspired by the magical and erotic tattoos of the Berber people in North Africa, it is a series of segmented rings that extend from the base of the finger to the tip. “Initially, the atelier thought it was impossible. ‘Whaaat? You’re gonna sell this?’” Gaia points at the loops encircling the upper halves of her finger. “Seven different loops means resizing the same ring seven times. Very time-consuming when they’re so popular.”

At times, she says, she and her father have different visions for Repossi’s design direction, but they always agree on one topic: matters of appearance. Over the past two or three years, Alberto has given Gaia a handful of his own handmade suits, which she’s had altered to fit her by the same tailor who made them 30 or so years ago. Now well into his 70s, and a closely guarded secret to the extent that Gaia will not reveal his identity, the tailor still makes the journey from Turin to Paris to fit Alberto, and now Gaia, his first female client.