TIFFANY & CO. SPECIAL
You may be lucky enough to own some of her work, you may have loved her jewellery pieces from afar; but who is the woman behind some of Tiffany & Co.’s most beautiful and popular pieces of jewellery?
Grace Coddington, Creative Director At Large of Vogue magazine, up-and-coming actresses Elle Fanning and Margot Robbie, and model Doutzen Kroes are all fans of the work of Elsa Peretti, the Italian designer who has worked with Tiffany & Co. for the past 40 years. Other admirers include the Duchess of Cambridge, Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman – basically, every style icon you can think of.
“Style is to be simple,” Peretti once said, and we can tell what she means from just a glance at collections like Bean, Open Heart, and Diamonds by the Yard. They’re clean and modern, inspired by nature, cleverly constructed, and absolutely classic.
Peretti joined Tiffany & Co. in 1974. People often talk about new products causing a sensation, but hers really did. They were glamorous and sensuous, yet minimalist and easy to wear, and quite unlike anything women had seen at Tiffany before. Her first collection sold out on the day it debuted and her work has continued to be as popular ever since.
One of her first creations for the brand was the Open Heart. The design was influenced by the work of sculptor Henry Moore, which is characterised by sweeping lines and open spaces. She rendered it in simple sterling silver, elevating this everyday material into something special.
With her Diamonds by the Yard collection, she did the opposite. “I wanted to make diamonds more easy to wear,” she says. The collection that sums up her aesthetic most elegantly is Bone. Bold and sculptural, but still with that minimalist look, it perfectly hugs the curve of the wrist and comes in versions for the right and left arm.
When Peretti started her design career, high-end jewellery tended to be elaborate, fussy and traditional. Peretti was anything but – in fact, she was a self-proclaimed rebel. Born in Italy in 1940, she studied interior design in Milan before moving to Spain, where she began to model for, among others, surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Modelling took her to New York, where she became friends with fellow rebels and innovators like artist Andy Warhol and designer Halston. She began to create jewellery and accessories for Halston and Oscar de la Renta and in 1971 won a prestigious fashion award for, “extension of jewellery into the realm of fashion sculpture”. Shortly after, Tiffany & Co. came calling.
These days, Peretti’s designs can be seen not only in every Tiffany & Co. store, but also in the permanent collections of the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a testament to their iconic design status.
“The day Elsa Peretti became a part of Tiffany & Co. was the day we entered a new era in our history of design innovation,” says Michael J Kowalski, the brand’s Chairman of the Board. Peretti herself is low-key about her design aesthetic, attributing it simply to common sense. “For me, good line and good form are timeless,” she says.