Tif­fany, recut

The National - News - Luxury - - JEWELLERY -

Elle Fan­ning, clad in a hoodie and jeans, and sip­ping on a take­away cof­fee, ap­proaches the Tif­fany & Co flag­ship on Fi h Av­enue and peers into a win­dow. The melo­di­ous open­ing lines of Moon River, the song made fa­mous by the Au­drey Hep­burn clas­sic Break­fast at Tif­fany’s, play in the back­ground. And then rap­per A$ap Ferg in­ter­jects with an “I ain’t win­dow shop­ping to­day”, and ev­ery­thing goes hay­wire. Fan­ning is trans­ported into a “Tif­fany world”, where she shows off her hip-hop moves amid New York taxi­cabs, build­ings, bridges and res­i­dents that are all clad in the brand’s trade­mark shade of robin-egg blue.

Tif­fany & Co’s spring cam­paign, Be­lieve in Dreams, is a stroke of mar­ket­ing ge­nius. Fan­ning: so young, so rel­e­vant, so glo­ri­ously ca­sual. A$ap Ferg’s rhymes: so far from what you might ex­pect from this clas­sic, his­tory-laden 181-year-old brand. The mes­sage: this is Tif­fany, recut.

The cam­paign spot­lights Tif­fany & Co’s lat­est col­lec­tion, Pa­per Flow­ers, which launched in the Mid­dle East this month. It is, no­tably, the first to be cre­ated by the brand’s new artis­tic direc­tor, Reed Krakoff, the man cred­ited with trans­form­ing Coach into a lux­ury pow­er­house, whose ex­per­tise, in­ter­est­ingly, lies in fash­ion rather than fine jew­els. His de­but col­lec­tion for Tif­fany is “about strip­ping away all of the rules as­so­ci­ated with fine jew­ellery”, he says. Krakoff started with the idea of flower petals cut from pa­per and took it from there.

The re­sult is a mas­ter­ful ex­er­cise in sub­tlety. There are stun­ningly sim­ple three-petalled flow­ers seem­ingly held to­gether by a barely-there cen­tral pin; a del­i­cate fire­fly with a yel­low di­a­mond for a body and wings flut­ter­ing with di­a­monds; the odd flash of blue, cour­tesy of eye-catch­ing tan­zan­ite; and a neck­lace of mixed-cut di­a­monds that looks like a flowery wreath. The en­tire col­lec­tion is cra ed from plat­inum, and is in­cred­i­bly am­bi­tious in its scope. It ex­tends from sim­ple ev­ery­day pieces that re­tail for about £2,300 (Dh10,848) through to a high-jew­ellery bib neck­lace fea­tur­ing 68 carats of di­a­monds, which is worth more than a mil­lion pounds.

Pa­per Flow­ers is a nod to Tif­fany’s know-how, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to di­a­monds and plat­inum, but also a sym­bol of its plans for the fu­ture, Alessan­dro Bogli­olo, the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, ex­plains when I meet him at the col­lec­tion’s Lon­don launch. Bogli­olo joined the brand in Oc­to­ber 2017 and was also, ar­guably, some­thing of a le -field choice. He is an in­dus­try vet­eran (al­though he ad­mits to hat­ing the term), hav­ing spent 16 years at Bul­gari, but his more re­cent roles were at Sephora and Diesel, a brand that is as famed for its ir­rev­er­ence as Tif­fany & Co is for its pol­ished con­sis­tency. “In the last few years, Tif­fany & Co has be­haved in a very safe way – a bit con­ser­va­tive,” he ad­mits. “The DNA of the brand is,

for sure, un­der­stated, ob­sessed with good taste, and more about bal­ance and equi­lib­rium than ex­cess, but it has never been a con­ser­va­tive brand.

“Imag­ine Charles Lewis Tif­fany, in 1837, go­ing from New York to Paris to buy the French crown jew­els and all the jew­els that the French aris­toc­racy were sell­ing off at the time. And then bring­ing them to New York, dis­man­tling them and mak­ing new pieces. Think about tak­ing di­a­mond rings which, at the time, were all set in a bezel, and putting in a six-prong set­ting. That was rev­o­lu­tion­ary. Think about hav­ing [Jean] Sch­lum­berger as a house de­signer; Elsa Peretti in the 1970s or Andy Warhol, who painted Christ­mas cards for Tif­fany. Andy Warhol? Con­ser­va­tive?”

Bogli­olo is on a mis­sion to bring some of that bold­ness back. And so far, it seems to be work­ing. In 2017, sales amounted to nearly US$4.2 bil­lion (Dh15.4 bn), up 4 per cent year-on-year. In the first quar­ter of 2018, how­ever, sales rose 15 per cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, hit­ting $1bn.

The key to this suc­cess could be Bogli­olo’s un­der­stand­ing of the evolv­ing na­ture of lux­ury. “Lux­ury had a very Euro­cen­tric def­i­ni­tion; it said that lux­ury is for the happy few, for roy­alty, or for very spe­cial oc­ca­sions, at a very high price and based on ex­clu­siv­ity. This is the tra­di­tional par­a­digm,” he says.

“But when you look at the younger gen­er­a­tion, it is not about buy­ing jew­ellery to put in a safe; and it is not so much about buy­ing jew­ellery to im­press you, but rather to please my­self. If you ask me what lux­ury is, in re­al­ity, it is some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary that has to give you joy and plea­sure; it is some­thing very in­ti­mate,” Bogli­olo sug­gests.

This is a de­cid­edly Amer­i­can ideal, where def­i­ni­tions of lux­ury are more ca­sual and re­laxed, and less tied into age-old hi­er­ar­chies and class sys­tems. And while Tif­fany & Co may be evolv­ing, it is proudly con­nected to its New York roots. That Big Ap­ple men­tal­ity is in­te­gral to the way that it art­fully melds the old with the new and the po­etic with the in­dus­trial – A$ap Ferg rap­ping over Moon River is the per­fect metaphor for this. “New York has this vi­tal­ity, en­ergy and wit – what is par­tic­u­larly typ­i­cally of New York is this wit – and Reed Krakoff has it 100 per cent,” says Bogli­olo.

“You see it in the fact that you have this beau­ti­ful mil­lion-dol­lar neck­lace, but its in­spi­ra­tion is a worth­less pa­per flower. That is very much New York. In this city, you can have the best of ev­ery­thing – the best art, the best cul­ture, the best cloth­ing, the best food, the best what­ever; but at the same time, it is not pre­ten­tious,” he ex­plains.

In Amer­ica, a er all, “you can wear your 10-carat di­a­mond to go to Whole Foods su­per­mar­ket and you know what, no one will pay at­ten­tion to you. It’s purely for your own plea­sure,” Bogli­olo points out.

This ca­su­al­i­sa­tion of di­a­monds also ex­tends to en­gage­ment rings, of which Tif­fany & Co has long been the mas­ter. A lesser man than Bogli­olo might be con­cerned that across the western world, the number of mar­riages is in de­cline. In the United States in 2017, 45.2 per cent of peo­ple over the age of 18 were sin­gle, com­pared to just 28 per cent in 1970, ac­cord­ing to the US Cen­sus. But while mar­riage might be on the de­cline, love is not, he says – and con­se­quently, nei­ther are di­a­mond rings.

“The di­a­mond ring is not lim­ited any more to en­gage­ment. It has gone back to the orig­i­nal rea­son why the di­a­mond ring ex­ists – be­cause mankind has al­ways been at­tracted by gem­stones and the di­a­mond is the hard­est of stones, so it rep­re­sents the eter­nity of your love or union. In re­cent cen­turies, the di­a­mond ring has be­come syn­ony­mous with en­gage­ment and mar­riage. But in re­al­ity, love is more than that. Peo­ple nowa­days still have this nat­u­ral at­trac­tion to the di­a­mond for its sym­bolic value – whether it is for a wed­ding, for an en­gage­ment, but also a er a wed­ding, or with­out a wed­ding.

“Peo­ple ask me if I am worried be­cause the rate of wed­dings is de­creas­ing; but the number of wed­dings is not the right KPI [key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor] for di­a­mond rings. The right KPI for di­a­mond rings is how much peo­ple love each other and how many peo­ple love each other. And as the pop­u­la­tion is growing, the busi­ness of love is growing.”

Tif­fany & Co’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Alessan­dro Bogli­olo, tells Selina Den­man why the busi­ness of love is boom­ing

Tif­fany & Co’s Blue Ice neck­lace, which was spot­ted on Gal Gadot at the 90th Academy Awards in March Amer­i­can ac­tress Elle Fan­ning, op­po­site page, fea­tures in Tif­fany & Co’s edgy new cam­paign. Above, the Blue Box Cafe in New York fea­tures the brand’s sig­na­ture robin-egg blue in­te­ri­ors

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