“Relevance is the most important word to me, always. You have to be relevant,” she says. “The other thing is that Tiffany is a great house of American design; it has always been the school of taste for America, so that has to stay … What you have is such a great, elegant and rich history to work with. It’s not a revolution; it’s an evolution of it so it is relevant to the 21st century. I am the first woman design director. I am talking to women — I am a mum, I work, I travel, I like fashion, I like art, I like design — I think most women relate to that. So that is an evolution already in itself.”
For the Tiffany T collection, Amfitheatrof wanted to encapsulate the energy of the most recognisable city on the planet. “To me, Tiffany and New York are parallel. I don’t look at it as an American brand; I look it as a New York brand,” she says. “And when I first came to New York [from London], I was trying to suss out the style … [New Yorkers] all have perfect hair and lot of them wear dresses and they run in and out of cabs … still wearing heels. There is this slight casualness but it is still really put together. I was really intrigued by that.”
To penetrate this New York aesthetic, Amfitheatrof indulged in her favourite pastime — and main source of style inspiration — people-watching. And of everyday people, not the celebrity types. “You know that game you played as a kid, [guessing] is that person a doctor? or … completely making up a narrative — I love doing that,” she says. “I am attracted to people because they have a very cool energy, a good energy … I think people who have a certain way about them are so much more elegant and inviting than when you are decked out head to toes in God knows what.”
The 20-year design veteran says the Tiffany T collection needed to be instantly recognisable as Tiffany. “The T, to me, seemed the perfect starting point,” she explains. “But, of course, the T is square, it is not a round graphic symbol and I love the modernity of that.”
Amfitheatrof has spent the past four months travelling the world to talk about Tiffany T and her vision for the brand. “With the launch of the collection, the way it has been received and the success it has had so far — it is still early days — it will hopefully allow that renaissance [within Tiffany] to be even stronger,” she says.
But before she popped her head up in public, Amfitheatrof and Loring had fun teasing the staff at Tiffany & Co’s flagship store in New York. “We did this big song and dance for all the sales staff. He kept saying, ‘Poor Francesca, she has to take over from me’, and I would say ‘Oh, John, you have such big shoes to fill’. We did this whole act ... and everyone was thinking ‘What are they doing?’ It was really sweet [of him]. John is amazing, he is an inspiration and he has been a huge support and I love showing him what we are up to and what we are doing. It’s fantastic; it’s like having a mentor.”