[1974 portrait of Elsa Peretti by Jill Krementz for Tiffany & Co.]
Last week, the design world was talk with speculation that Elsa Peretti was looking to end her 38-year-old relationship with luxury brand Tiffany & Co. Peretti is one of our favourite designers of all time, and we're having a hard time even considering the possibility that she might retire. So we thought we'd offer up this appreciation of her work so far.
Peretti was born in Florence and studied interior design in Rome. However, standing 5' 9" and with a fearless physical presence, in the late 1960s she found herself modelling in New York instead of buying pillows for her family's wealthy Roman friends. In Manhattan, she ran with the Studio 54 crowd, but also created jewellery for Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo and Halston. Even while surrounded by disco-era glitter, her style was simple and organic. Her signature look was usually a man's shirt, jeans and ropes and ropes of her Diamonds by the Yard necklaces.
So many of her jewellery designs have become iconic: The Open Heart, the Bone cuff, the Bean, the Eternal circle. They are so iconic, in fact, that sometimes folks forget that she was the also the mastermind behind Halston's teardrop-shaped perfume bottle, the loop handled Padova cutlery collection (pictured below) and, our personal favourite, the glass Thumbprint bowl (pictured above)
When Peretti came on the scene, her work was considered pretty cutting edge. Her biggest contibution to 20th century design was combining a minimalist asthetic with super luxurious materials (or making simple materials like laquered wood and terracotta seem super luxurious) . But it's that simplicity that makes her creations so timeless today. Peretti's pieces look just as at home in a stark and austere space as they do in an antique-stuffed, chocolate-walled retro room.
[Images via Tiffany & Co.]