Elsa Peretti, style muse, former model-turned-designer and socialite, icon, vanguard, talented mind behind Tiffany & Co’s best selling, iconic designs. Presenting a perfect mix of simplicity, sophistication and femininity, Elsa Peretti’s timeless designs cater to discerning women looking to take them from daytime chic to dressy soirée. “What Peretti had was a whole new idea of what jewelry should be: more design than decoration.......real jewelry has become accessible and affordable for every shopgirl.” ('Jewelry's New Dazzle', Newsweek, April 1977). Today, the Italian born designer remains a style muse and a shining example of the transcending power of timeless elegance. Philanthropy / Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation.
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“...something Elsa” “Style is to be simple.”
Elsa Peretti photographed by Carola Polakov
“Jewelry is not fashion. It has to last, not be discarded when something else comes along.” With her sculptural shapes and new approach to luxury, the legendary Italian model-turned-designer Elsa Peretti forever changed 20th-century jewelry design and seduced the world. A masterful artisan, Elsa explores nature with the acumen of an academic and the vision of a sculptor. Presenting a perfect mix of simplicity, sophistication and femininity, Elsa Peretti’s timeless designs cater to discerning women looking to take them from daytime chic to dressy soirée. Today, the Italian born designer remains a style muse and a shining example of the transcending power of timeless elegance.
Elsa Peretti photographed by Jill Krementz
“The day Elsa Peretti became a part of Tiffany & Co was the day we entered a new era in our history of design innovation,” said former chairman and CEO Michael J Kowalski. Forty-two years on, her timeless, simple, pure, neat, chic, organic and seamless designs for the renowned American jeweller remain the most sought after, by both young and old, the world over. They epitomize a philosophy that was clear from the beginning.
Tiffany's president Henry Platt (1974) with Elsa Peretti
Halston arranged the meeting between Elsa and Tiffany's. The timing was perfect. “We were looking for somebody who could capture the mood of the young woman as well as the older woman,” said Tiffany's president Henry Platt, “someone who could make jewelry that women could wear with jeans and sweaters as well as with their ball gowns.” Yet many of the original pieces look as sexy and youthful today as they did back in 1974. In Peretti’s own words: “Style is to be simple.”
ELSA PERETTI “ICONS”
Elsa Peretti’s icons: Bone Cuff, Diamonds by the Yard, Open Hearth, Bottle, Bean, Amapola, Snake.
The Bone cuff was first introduced in the 70s at a Roy Halston runway show. Deeply fascinated by bones since a child, Peretti's iconic Bone Cuff drew inspiration from her visits to the cemetery of a seventeenth century Capuchin church, where rooms were decorated with human bones. “My mother had to send me back, time and again, with a stolen bone in my little purse,” she says. “Things that are forbidden remain with you forever.” A true work of art, the Bone Cuff is a fresh, organic design that embraces the wrist in sensually sculpted metal.
Diamonds by the Yard
“If diamonds are mounted like this, the light is different. They look like drops of light, like a stream — very modern,” explains Elsa Peretti. Composed of single bezel-set diamonds on long gold chains, Diamond by the Yard was Peretti's first diamond design for Tiffany & Co, and is proof that a diamond's personality will always be strong and evocative regardless of the carat size. It is this simple and understated approach to diamonds that has made Diamonds by the Yard a perennial favourite. It was actually named by Roy Halston and worn by Liza Minnelli to her first wedding.
The collection silhouettes seem sculptural. Iconic, elegant, chic and deeply cherished in its design, the pendant moves gracefully when worn with a chain necklace. In 1990, Elsa Peretti explained the genesis of the Open Heart pendant: “I really think that the idea for the best-selling item of my collection sprang from a void in a Moore sculpture, a big one. No one else saw a heart there. Just me. The shape was there, in metal. What I couldn't work out was how to hang it from the chain. Mr. Kalich, then head of Tiffany jewellery, suggested with his strong German accent,”: ‘Why dont we put it through’. “I was so overjoyed that I gave my first model to his fiancée.” The heart was featured on the cover of 'Newsweek' April 1977, with a cover story entitled 'Jewelry's New Dazzle', which reported that “What Peretti had was a whole new idea of what jewelry should be: more design than decoration.......real jewelry has become accessible and affordable for every shopgirl.”
Its sculptural simplicity has made it another signature jewellery line for Tiffany & Co. “Once i was in Portofino and i met all those beautiful women that were wearing Pucci’s dresses and had a gardenia in their hand. That was the flash that made me think to realize something to keep the flower fresh and alive, therefore the little bottle came to the light…” says Elsa Peretti.
“The appeal of this natural shape has remained constant for me through the years. Variations on the theme are easy: On a lighter, its curve becomes steeper . . . . On a woman's purse, the hollow for the hand does not detract from the primary shape and thought: a bean, a seed, the origin of life.”
Made from silk, the iconic brooch was inspired by Japan, were the petals are wowen on the same looms that have supplied the flamboyant Noh theatre costumes for centuries. “To translate ideas is magic,”Elsa Peretti, Tiffany & Co.'s grande dame of design, stated. “It takes so long to make a curve, and to make sure the curve is done well.”
Mesh scarf necklace
...“At the beginning of her jewellery career Elsa Peretti became fascinated by mesh she saw being handmade in India. Seeking technical expertise, she contacted New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, which led her to Prof. Samuel Beizer (1931-2000), first director of the jewellery department at FIT, who became a friend and collaborator. He sought out Whiting and Davis, a Massachusetts based company that was known for making mesh of all kinds. In particular, they were recognized for their pressure metal mesh which was used to make decorated and jewelled evening bags in the early part of the 20th century. Elsa Peretti has always admired them but had been told they had once all been made by hand and it could not be done any more. Intrigued by their intricacy and suppleness, Beizer began to collect them to work out how it was done. He contacted Whiting and Davis, and in about 1974 he and Elsa together were able to rescue some of the old machines, finding an 80-year old former employee who had worked on the machines when he was young. Beizer obtained some sample mesh from Whiting & Davis which he made into earrings, and this gave Elsa an entirely new medium for jewellery and one that has been exclusively hers to this day. The old machines were restored and produce the gold mesh for Elsa Peretti today. The mesh is machine-knitted like a stocking, to avoid seams, with solder-filled wire, then heated until the solder flows closing each link. It is then cut to shape by hand and turned into jewellery by Samuel Beizer Associates. A mesh scarf contains about 43,000 links. The collaboration with Beizer was commemorated in 2001 with the creation of the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry at the F.I.T., endowed in recognition of Peretti's twenty-fifth anniversary with Tiffany & Co. and at her request, in memory of Samuel Beizer, whom she had assisted in developing the curriculum. The scarf necklace was the end result, but Elsa Peretti's first creation in mesh was a gold bra or halter top (photo). As Peretti herself puts it: 'Inspired by the beautiful atmosphere in Jaipur, I thought about a gold bra; the object was then painstakingly executed there. Back in New York, the idea progressed with the great help and generosity of Sam Beizer, teacher at F.I.T. The object was shown in a Halston collection; Tiffany was swamped with calls from people dying to get a gold bra.”
...The idea for this necklace came from the endpiece of a rattlesnake tail, given to Elsa Peretti by a Texan as a good luck charm. A venomous serpent native to the Americas, the rattlesnake has a long history in folklore. “I thought Americans had to be brave, having these kinds of snakes in their backyards... I kept the object with me for many years. The expertise of excellent craftsmen and my will brought the snake to life in silver and gold.”
about Elsa Elsa Peretti is universally acknowledged as one of the world's finest, most creative, jewellery designers. Born in Florence, she studied interior design in Rome. Peretti created jewellery for Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo and Halston. Elsa Peretti has worked exclusively with Tiffany since 1974, creating personal ornaments and tableware in silver, gold, lacquered wood, glass, carved hard stones and bamboo basketry. She held her first retrospective exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) New York in 1990. She has won a number of accolades including the Coty American Fashion Critics' Award for Design (1971), the President's Fellow Award from the Rhode Island School of Design (1981) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America Accessory Designer of the Year Award for 1996. She received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, NY) in 2001. In 2013 she has received the prestigious Premi Nacional de Cultura de Catalunya.
Philanthropy / Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation In 2000 Elsa Peretti was inspired by her late father Nando to create a charitable foundation called the Nando Peretti Foundation (NPF). The NPF focuses on projects aiming at the promotion of human and civil rights, with a special emphasis on the right to education, children's rights, and women's rights and dignity. Over time, The NPF has also supported the requests of unrepresented people, and oppressed minorities for the defense of their right to exist and the preservation of their culture. The NPF awards grants to promote physical and mental health, and to support medical and scientific research projects. It also supports more specific types of intervention, such as the building of entire hospitals or sanitary facilities, and the purchase of technological and medical equipment in advanced, as well as poor countries. It has funded several public awareness campaigns and projects for the conservation of endemic species for wildlife conservation and the protection of the environment. The NPF also became increasingly engaged in the promotion of culture and the arts. In 2015 the NPF changed its name to the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation (NaEPF).
Credits & Special Thanks:. Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Design Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation Jill Krementz