THE WINGS OF A DOVE

Paloma Pi­casso on the jour­ney to find­ing her own cre­ative voice

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Style - By LY­DIA SLATER

The ho­tel suite where I am wait­ing for Paloma Pi­casso is ablaze with light. Sun­shine, re­flected from the sur­face of Lake Geneva, ripples across the ceil­ing and bounces off a glass cof­fee ta­ble loaded with clus­ters of gold bracelets and rings set with amethyst and aqua­ma­rine, topaz and tan­zan­ite. The ef­fect is pos­i­tively daz­zling – a fit­ting set­ting for the Tif­fany & Co jew­ellery de­signer, who is as fa­mous for her own style as she is for her cre­ations.

To­day, Paloma is a vi­sion of re­strained mono­chrome in a white lacy Akris shirt, black Chanel cig­a­rette-pants and match­ing Manolo sling­backs. Her trade­mark slash of scar­let lip­stick is miss­ing, but the en­ergy that she ex­udes ir­re­sistibly draws the eye: she has the as­sertive grace of a mata­dor, and ap­pears decades younger than her years (she is in her late six­ties). Gen­tly jin­gling bracelets of her own for­ma­tion run up her tanned fore­arms, and on her right hand glit­ters a huge nugget stud­ded with a pink rubel­lite and a grass-green tour­ma­line. I would be tempted just to sit and gaze at her, were it not for the trays of jew­ellery in front of us which we are both tempted to play with – she too is see­ing some of these pieces for the first time, de­spite hav­ing de­signed them her­self.

The Stu­dio ring col­lec­tion was in­spired by her days as a 1980s New York so­cialite, when she par­tied with Andy Warhol at Stu­dio 54 by night and worked for Tif­fany by day. Bold stones in clash­ing disco hues are set into chunky gold, shaped and grooved to re­call the city’s sky­scrapers. ‘There is al­ways a thread of thought with my de­signs. It may not be im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, but when peo­ple hear the story be­hind it, they un­der­stand,’ she says in her deep, softly ac­cented voice.

An­other bracelet, shaped like a light­ning bolt, comes from her chic Graf­fiti col­lec­tion, which was also an homage to New York in the Eight­ies. ‘Ev­ery­one was wor­ry­ing about graf­fiti tags at the time, so I thought, why don’t I make some in gold and di­a­monds and maybe peo­ple will think they’re great,’ she says with a throaty chuckle. The more del­i­cate in­ter­lock­ing Melody bracelets she is wear­ing were a re­sponse to the mu­sic of the softly lap­ping wa­ters of the lake out­side our win­dow, while other col­lec­tions have been called forth var­i­ously by de­tails of Vene­tian ar­chi­tec­ture, the foun­tain on the ter­race of her sec­ond home in Mar­rakesh, and her own name – Paloma means ‘dove’ in Span­ish.

The sim­ple flu­id­ity of her de­sign of the bird in flight sug­gests that it flew with a flour­ish from her pen, but in fact, it caused her a good deal of heart-search­ing. ‘All through the years, I’ve only done things that I knew for sure peo­ple couldn’t re­late to my fa­ther,’ she says wryly. ‘A dove was more dif­fi­cult.’

In­deed, for Paloma is the daugh­ter of Pablo Pi­casso, whose line draw­ing of a dove is one of the world’s most recog­nis­able sym­bols of peace. Un­der­stand­ably, she was de­ter­mined that hers would be very dif­fer­ent, and drew nu­mer­ous ver­sions un­til it was. ‘The legacy is a weight and at the same time it’s a bless­ing too,’ she says thought­fully. ‘I don’t re­gard it as a neg­a­tive; it just makes me want to try harder.’

In fact, she is the daugh­ter of two great artists: her mother is the pain­ter Françoise Gilot (por­trayed by Natascha McEl­hone in the 1996 Mer­chant Ivory biopic

‘I’ve only done things that I knew peo­ple couldn’t re­late to my fa­ther’

Paloma Pi­casso

A cuff from the Graf­fiti col­lec­tionAll pieces through­out from a se­lec­tion Paloma Pi­casso for Tif­fany & Co

Rings from the Stu­dio col­lec­tion

Right: Paloma pho­tographed by Robert Dois­neau in 1958. Above, fromleft: Jerry Hall, Deb­bie Harry and Paloma at Stu­dio54 in 1981

Above: Paloma with her fa­ther Pablo Pi­casso in about 1950. Be­low: with Andy Warhol

A neck­lace from the Graf­fiti col­lec­tion

Ban­gles from the Melody col­lec­tion

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