MI­LANDA ROUT

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Aia Awards 2014 -

ou can tell a lot about Francesca Am­fithe­atrof by the jew­ellery she wears. Not sur­pris­ingly, the head de­signer at Tif­fany & Co is adorned with pieces from her first col­lec­tion, Tif­fany T. The sleek gold bracelets, rings and neck­laces aim to en­cap­su­late the mod­ern woman that she is, a work­ing mother who trav­els, loves fash­ion and de­sign and seems to have ef­fort­less style. But there are also a few un­ex­pected pieces — her grand­mother’s wed­ding ring, which she wears ev­ery day, and a mul­ti­coloured string bracelet she has not taken off her left wrist since a beach hol­i­day many years ago. The sum of th­ese parts re­veals what she trea­sures most.

“To me, what I love about jew­ellery is the power that is has. For some­thing so small, it has so much mean­ing. It’s like a lit­tle mem­ory bank, a time cap­sule,” Am­fithe­atrof ex­plains while sit­ting among her Tif­fany T col­lec­tion at an art gallery in Padding­ton dur­ing a re­cent visit to Syd­ney. “I wear bits of string. I love them and have had them on for years now — they are from the beach. It’s just some­thing that re­minds you, it has mean­ing and it’s com­pletely per­sonal and sym­bolic. You get mar­ried and the only thing you have from that day is your wed­ding band, the way your skin moulds around it and it be­comes part of you. I think jew­ellery is phe­nom­e­nally im­por­tant.”

Am­fithe­atrof is the first fe­male de­sign di­rec­tor in Tif­fany & Co’s 177-year his­tory and her ap­point­ment to the Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tion has been de­scribed in the press as “in­stantly up­ping its cool fac­tor”. The mother of two has been in her new job for just 14 months, but is con­fi­dent she can evolve the brand in the 21st cen­tury after the 35-year ten­ure of her pre­de­ces­sor, John Lor­ing.

“Life is so much about tim­ing and the tim­ing [of my ar­rival] has been fan­tas­tic,” she says. “Things within Tif­fany are re­ally chang­ing. They are chang­ing very much from the top down. There is a real mo­ment of syn­ergy be­tween a new pres­i­dent [Fred­eric Cu­me­nal] and my ar­rival — it’s kind of a breath of fresh air that is like a re­nais­sance within Tif­fany.”

Am­fithe­atrof made her first piece of jew­ellery — a sil­ver hair­piece — when just 15. Her “phe­nom­e­nal” art teacher brought in a jew­eller to do a one-day course at her school and from that mo­ment she was hooked. A bach­e­lor of arts and masters at the Royal Col­lege of Art in London fol­lowed and she has since de­signed col­lec­tions for Chanel, Fendi and Alice Tem­per­ley as well as cu­rat­ing art col­lec­tions and cre­at­ing fur­ni­ture and light­ing dis­plays.

The de­signer is not at all in­tim­i­dated by the fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions of her re­spon­si­bil­ity to cre­ate lines of jew­ellery for a brand with such a rich his­tory, say­ing she sees it as a “great de­sign chal­lenge”.

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