Illustration Student Wins Bulgari Fragrance Design Competition

Jessie Xu, Illustration ’25, has much to celebrate. She won first place in Bulgari’s Art of Living with Allegra Baciami: Passione contest, for her animated visual celebrating the luxury brand’s bestselling fragrance. Students were asked to submit their own idea in the medium of their major that captures the essence of the fragrance while also showcasing the legacy and heritage of the Bulgari brand. Xu created an animation, which will be used in an upcoming paid social media campaign with additional exposure during the end-of-year holiday season. She won a $2,500 prize and an internship with Bulgari. Alice Chekunova, Textile/Surface Design AAS ’26, received a $2,000 second prize, and third-place winner Ling Yin Liu, Illustration AAS ‘27 also won $2,000. Their creative concepts will also be included in the Bulgari paid social media campaign.

Xu, a Bayside, Queens native, had never entered a contest before but was intrigued by the possibility of a Bulgari internship. Her approach was tactical, and rather than choosing one main point to focus on, she strategically addressed all of the points mentioned in the Bulgari brief, which included the brand’s Italian heritage and storytelling. Xu’s goal was to demonstrate the idea of romance in a way that best suited the company.

While developing her concept, she consulted with Lily Qian, adjunct instructor of Illustration, who was the faculty mentor for the contest. “I wanted feedback from a professional so it would feel like a paid assignment in the field,” Xu said. She scrapped several animations before coming up with the final submission. With no real animation background, she taught herself the basics in a month and spent hours working on hand-drawing each frame. She ended up with a clean animation of the perfume bottle.

To create dimensionality, she showed the perfume in several angles and sizes. To illustrate the simplicity of romance, Xu used delicate line work to animate a kiss between a couple. She said, “Love is complex and hard to grasp, but it can be something as simple as a kiss. After all, baciami means ‘kiss me.’” To tie everything into one smoothly rendered package, she made sure to hint at the perfume’s scent and heritage. Highlighting the floral scent of gardenia flowers in bloom, she also adds an engraving of Rome’s Colosseum to hint at Bulgari’s Italian roots.

When Xu found out she won, she didn’t believe it. “I didn’t even think I’d be a finalist. To find out I won felt like some lucid dream. It didn’t sink in until a few days after,” she said. “I love fashion and beautiful things. Plus, I was fortunate enough to have Lily Qian and Bil Donovan as professors,” Xu said. “I truly respect the fashion illustrators at FIT. I’ve always been afraid of what my future holds, but something about fashion illustration feels right. It feels good. And because of that I’m able to muster up courage.”

Learn more about Bulgari Allegra here.

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