HOW THE MOST SUCCESSFUL WOMAN-JEWELER WHO ADORED Elsa Peretti Taught the World to Love SILVER
History knows many inspiring examples of women jewelers, but perhaps the most successful of them was Elsa Peretti, the permanent leading designer of Tiffany & Co., who taught all fans of high jewelry to love silver and laconic forms. Elsa Peretti was a fan of her talent, Gal Gadot in the film “Wonder Woman” saved the world with bracelets from Peretti. And hundreds of non-profit organizations around the world are grateful to her not at all for earrings and rings …
Elsa Peretti biography
Elsa Peretti was born in Florence in 1940 to a wealthy but conservative family that did not always approve of her daughter’s decisions. The girl earned a living teaching French and worked as a ski instructor in a German-speaking Swiss mountain village, then received an education in interior design and worked for some time in an architectural workshop. In 1964, she tried herself as a model – and five years later she was already dancing at Andy Warhol’s parties, and the legendary Helmut Newton photographed her in the image of a Playboy magazine mascot, with bunny ears and against the backdrop of skyscrapers. When Elsa unexpectedly began her modeling career, relations with her family went wrong so much that reconciliation took place only on the eve of her father’s death.
Having struck up acquaintance with many designers during her modeling career, Peretti gradually began to develop jewelry for shows, giving preference to inexpensive materials and fluid, fluid, sensual forms. She also invented dresses, however, only for herself. The first to appreciate her talent was the fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo – and their joint work brought both success and fame. It was for his show that Peretti designed a sterling silver flask pendant.
Love for silver in general made Peretti stand out from the background of other jewelers.
Despite the popularity of silver jewelry, this material was considered frivolous and even somehow “indecent” – jewelry for evening outings was not made of silver. However, everything changed … Roy Halston, one of the iconic designers of the 70s and also Elsa’s best friend. Peretti was his favorite model, his muse and inspiration, but Halston knew she had talent. He presented the very ironic pendant in the form of a flask to the actress Liza Minnelli, saying: “You cannot afford gold, diamonds should be given by men. Only silver remains. ” And Minelli just fell in love with Peretti jewelry – so much so that she forgot about the conventions. And thousands of women followed suit, sweeping shell-shaped pendants and earrings off the shelves of Manhattan boutiques.
In the early 70s, Peretti invented a bracelet in the shape of a bone fragment.
Subsequently, it was worn by Liza Minnelli and Sarah-Jessica Parker, the designers “borrowed” the biomorphic silver wristband for their shows, and nowadays it “starred” in the film “Wonder Woman”, becoming an attribute of the warrior Diana. This bracelet was destined to become the best-selling piece of jewelry at the legendary Tiffany & Co. And, in general, the Bone bracelet brought Peretti to Tiffany & Co.
1974, the company’s management drew attention to the original works of the young designer. At that time, the Peretti brand had already opened its first boutiques in New York, Vogue wrote about it … Representatives of Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti was invited to cooperate. At first, she was engaged in the development of a democratic silver line for the cult jewelry house, and the very first collection she created was sold out instantly. At the end of the decade, Peretti took over as the lead designer of the jewelry house.
She came up with small graceful pendants in the form of unexpected objects, necklaces where individual stones were connected by thin chains. Often in her jewelry there is the image of a snake – sometimes coiled up comfortably, and sometimes dangerously wrapped around a woman’s neck. Silver jewelry was cheaper than gold jewelry, and women often bought them themselves. Ultimately, it was Peretti’s work that attracted Tiffany & Co. a huge number of clients.
In the late 80s, Elsa decided to return to design, or rather, interior decoration.
Now her creative repertoire includes household goods made of porcelain and crystal. Laconic, impeccable forms and proportions, all these things were simply asking for hands – Peretti always paid great attention to the tactile sensations created by her creations.
At Tiffany & Co. Elsa worked for almost half a century and left the brand in 2012, deciding to retire. A department at the Fashion Institute of Technology was named in her honor, and Peretti’s work is featured in permanent exhibitions at the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
last years of life
In the last years of her life, she lived in the charming medieval village of Sant Martí Vel in Catalonia, where she cultivated vineyards and made jewelry from literally everything that came to her hand. She began to be more and more actively involved in charity work and did a lot for the place that has now become her home. Peretti generously financed the restoration of the church and many other buildings in Sant Martí Vel, sponsored archaeological excavations, donated funds to support the craftsmen of Catalan arts and crafts.
In addition, at the turn of the millennium, Peretti founded a charitable foundation. It is called the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, and the first word is the name of Elsa’s father, a kind of tribute to his memory. The organization worked on environmental issues, and then began to support projects aimed at protecting women and children, ensuring the right to education, safety and health. The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation operates in eighty countries and finances over a thousand social projects.
On March 18, 2021, Elsa Peretti passed away in her sleep. And Tiffany & Co. they continued – and continue – to produce jewelry according to her sketches, because truly ingenious ideas are immortal.