For the past couple of years, Tiffany & Co. has been experimenting with all kinds of adhesive decals to decorate its Fifth Avenue and 57th Street flagship not just for the Holiday season, but for all sorts of other occasions like Easter or last year's The Great Gatsby retail promotion extravaganza. The results have been mixed, occasionally creating intriguing effects, but also subverting the inherent elegance and simplicity of the 1940 building's architecture. This year, however, the store has dropped the stickers and gone back to its roots, literally, with four immense firework-shaped pendants suspended from the roofline like diamond necklaces on steroids
That'll get prople's attention.
It's the sparkliest we have seen Tiffany's looking for the Holidays in years, maybe decades, and we haven't even seen at night yet to get the full effect. It even threatens to outshine the UNICEF Star suspended over the intersection that is set to be lighted for the season tonight. It is something of a challenge to the other three stores on the nearby corners, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Bergdorf Goodman, to see who can shine brightest for the next six weeks or so. This is the kind of competition we like.
As we have mentioned, Baz Luhrmann's 3-D extravaganza adaptation of The Great Gatsby which opens a week from today, is being marketed as aggressively as a superhero franchise, if not more so. How successful the director and Warner Brothers will be at making a Summer movie tentpole out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald classic with no possibility of a sequel —one that has already been filmed at least four times before— remains to be seen, but they seem to be pulling out all the stops to reach a fashion-minded audience. In fact, here in New York, it almost feels like anyone with functioning senses is being clobbered with a barrage of Gatsby promotion and related merchandise as if it will irresistibly compel them to buy a ticket next weekend to the movie. If you have been hooked, here are all the stores to visit that participating in Gatsby promotion, or if you are already sick to death of hearing about it, think of them as stores to avoid for the next month.
BROOKS BROTHERS: We mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. Brooks Brothers worked with Gatsby's costume designer Catherine Martin to produce hundreds of costumes for the film's male characters from leads to background actors. The store's Madison Avenue flagship has been completely Gatsby-ized along with nearly all the windows (pictured above) featuring displays of costumes from the film and promotional placards placed throughout the store. A special Gatsby-inspired capsule menswear collection featuring pastel linen suits and vintage-style formalwear has reportedly been selling well.
TIFFANY & CO.: Tiffany also assisted in costuming Gatsby. Perhaps you noticed the humongous blue Tiffany gift box constructed over Rockeffeller Plaza's ice rink last month for the store's lavish "Blue Book Ball" gala ostensibly celebrating its catalog and launching its "Jazz Age Glamour" diamond, platinum and pearl jewelry collection tied to the film. We haven't seen Tiffany launch a product line with that kind of fanfare since, well, ever, so it's safe to assume that Warner Bros. footed the bill for that one to promote Gatsby. The collection is being displayed in Tiffany's windows, and, in what seems like another first, the store's iconic 1940 facade has been festooned in Art-Deco scroll pattened decals in an attempt to retro-ize it a few decades.
PRADA: Designer Miuccia Prada also contributed costumes for the movie, several of which are currently being displayed in the luxury brand's SoHo Epicenter Plagship, the site of yet another recent gala party promoting the movie. What's on the Prada homepage right now? A film still of Gatsby stars Carey Mulligan and Leonardo di Caprio.
FOGAL: You'll see Gatsby in the windows at Fogal's stores and since it also provided hosiery for the film, it gets the rights to produce, you guessed it, a special collection of 20s-style hosiery featuring seams and deco-patterns.
THE PLAZA HOTEL: The hotel figures in the movie and hosted yet another recent party for the movie, its New York premiere. The hotel's website has been taken over by the movie, and features an "F. Scott Fitzgerald" Suite for anyone who wants a total immersion experience. In addition, there are Gatsby themed dishes created for the Plaza's restaurants and Food Halls
MOET & CHANDON: You will see the champagne's product placement in the film as well as amongst the other retail tie-in display for even more cross-cross-promotion. For example, Brooks Brothers' Gatsby mannequins are posed next to pyramids of the brand's bottles.
MAC: Among the quieter of the movie's promotional partners, we haven't seen as much in-store promotion from MAC, but it provided makeup support for the film and has been promoting Gatsby makeovers in the press over the past weeks
So there you have it all. Just try and avoid this movie while you are shopping this week, and we aren't even counting the relentless marketing of the movie's totally period inappropriate soundtrack album. Don't worry. It'll be over in a few weeks, so you can be ready for the marketing onslaughts from The Wolverine and Man of Steel.
Today's WWD is floating a rumor that Elsa Peretti, a mainstay of Tiffany & Co.'s stable of designers, is considering leaving the famous jeweler which has manufactured and sold her work exclusively since 1974. This information comes after SEC filings revealed that Tiffany has offered to purchase the designer's intellectual property outright for an undisclosed sum. Peretti reportedly responded by suggesting that she was considering "retiring" their longtime licensing agreement and severing her relationship with the retailer.
If Peretti left exited the jeweler, Tiffany would left with Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger who died in 1987 and Frank Gehry who is primarily an architect in its portfolio of proprietary branded jewelry. The last high profile split from Tiffany was Angela Cummings' departure in 1984. She launched her own fine jewelry company with in in-store shop at Bergdorf Goodman, but closed her business in 2003.
If Peretti did split with Tiffany, the separation would be a year and a half process during which rights to manufacture and sell the designs would transfer back to the designer in stages. At that point she would have the option to make her own arrangements for selling products under her own name. Should she choose to do so, there is likely no shortage of retailers who would be ready to offer Peretti's sleek, minimal and timeless designs under their own roofs. Her work ranges from relatively inexpensive silver jewelry to pieces in precious metals and gemstones as well as accessories and home furnishings, suggesting a broad market for an independent Elsa Peretti brand. The question implied by WWD's article is whether or not the 72 year old designer is ready to end what has always seemed like a mutually beneficial 36-year relationship with Tiffany in favor of striking out on her own. The classic, iconic qualities of many of her most famous designs (Diamonds by the Yard, Alphabet, the signature Open Heart, the Bone Cuff, etc.) indicate that her archive of designs will continue to have a commercial appeal long after she might choose to retire, and there would also be opportunities to expand her brand into other design categories like furniture or other home furnishings not carried by Tiffany. Is this her plan, or if it is simply a negotiating tactic to adjust her current agreement with Tiffany? The result could be a huge opportunity not only for Peretti but for any number of retailers who might be eager to be in the Peretti business.
Fittingly, Tiffany & Co. has always been a model elegant understatement when it comes to window display, even at Christmas when its neighbors on Fifth Avenue pull out all the stops. Partly, this has to do with the store's little windows, meant to create little jewel boxes of wonder outside the imposing jewelry store.
Not this year.
The windows are still the same size, with displays that are as fanciful and masterfully composed as ever, but around the windows on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, Tiffany has added what appears to be sections of an antique carousel in gold and signature Tiffany Blue. Inside the store, the famous main floor is festooned with more traditional garlands and tinsel, but the store's visual team has added a gilded archway at the main entrance that echoes the scrolls and curlicues of the outside decorations. It's a striking look, especially if you are used to the store's usual, less flashy style, but, hey, it's the Holidays. Why not have a little bit of fun?
We had such a nice time at Tiffany's the other day we thought we would revisit for another look at the Holiday windows. The jeweler's displays have been renowned for decades, but the current little spectacles are particularly captivating. The small vitrines are easy to miss when Fifth Avenue and 57th Street is teeming with crowds, but it's more than worthwhile to stop, push your way through, and take a close look.
This year the tiny dioramas feature scenes from the life of a fairy-tale princess meticulously rendered in cut paper. The craftsmanship required to execute the tableaux almost eclipses the obligatory jewels they are meant to showcase, but rather than having us describe them, click HERE for a complete look at the windows.
So when was the last time you saw the main floor of Tiffany & Co. looking as pleasantly free of crowds as this?
We saw it this morning when the fine folks at Tiffany invited us and and a few other media over to have breakfast in the store before the doors were opened to the Holiday hordes (Truman Capote really gave them a huge gift when he wrote that novella). It's never a burden to look at shiny, sparkly things, especially when they come with mimosas, little muffins and various other nibbles being walked around. A few choice gift items were set out for our perusal ranging from sterling silver ornaments and piggy banks to a gorgeous Jean Schlumberger pink tourmaline and diamond ring to a spectacular Frank Gehry one-of-a-kind white gold mesh bib necklace, generously scattered with rough diamonds and pearls ($750,000).
This is the kind of breakfast we could get used to.
Even the genial Tiffany execs there admitted that the store took on a serenely different atmosphere without all the daily hustle and bustle, and it was genuinely a pleasure to wander amongst the cases without anyone in our way.
Here's what else we learned:
· The Elsa Peretti collection never gets old, and looks as modern as ever. Some of her classic pieces have now been recast in a sleek, charcoal metal made from ruthenium plated copper (with a new, gentler opening price point).
· Tiffany's relationship with the Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe dates back to the 19th century and is the longest vendor-retailer relationship on record. There is now an exclusive Patek Philippe salon tucked away on the mezzanine level including vintage museum pieces and an on-site repair studio.
· The store's famous main floor is one of the city's largest interior retail spaces constructed without any supporting columns at all.
· Nearly all of the gold Tiffany uses is tracked to a mine in Utah, avoiding sources that may finance questionable political activities overseas (such as the conflict in Congo as reported on a recent edition of "60 Minutes").
Eventually, of course, the doors had to open so the public could flood in, and as we left, we were given our own little blue bag containing a silver Tiffany keys heart key charm on a delicate chain for our time and attention. We have to admit that the store's fame and tourist-attraction quality has kept us from visiting as much as we might like. We hadn't been in the famous flagship in a while, which we regret. Once inside, we could probably spend all day looking at every single thing —so we'll be back. There's a lot to look at.
Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, Midtown
In today's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson takes a restrained look at Tiffany & Company, an American retailing icon, but instead of visiting the famous flagship at 57th & Fifth, she has chosen to make her assessment of the newer satellite branch on wall street that opened two years ago. This week finds La Cintra in a more reflective mode, observing the irony surrounding a luxury mini-shopping district that has popped up at ground zero of the luxury bust. Instead of profligate Wall Streeters, Tiffany's downtown branch seems to be catering to the same tourists that throng the historic flagship store, who apparently don't care to be bothered while buying jewelry.
“He is,” said one with a backpack, pointing at his serious-looking friend.
“How did you know about Tiffany in China?” I asked the potential buyer. “Is it famous there?”
“I use the Internet,” he said, somewhat defensively.
“How did you know we are from China?” his friend asked.
The buyer became shy and hostile, and suddenly cupped his hands around the diamond he was viewing, so I couldn’t see it.
Clearly this tourist had no idea that the Nosy American Lady was going immortalize him in the pages of The New York Times. Overall, however, our shopper has practically given Tiffany a free pass compared to her usual treatment. She is admiring, but not effusive —almost polite, even. Perhaps the brand is just too monolithic to engage Cintra's attention too strongly one way or another.
Critical Shopper | Tiffany & Company If Bling Had a Hall of Fame By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Tiffany & Company 37 Wall Street between Nassau and William Streets, Financial District
There will be more on this story come Monday, but WWD reports that American luxury accessory brand Lambertson Truex has been rescued from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy by none other than Tiffany & Co.
Previous owner Samsonite put the 10 year old brand on the block in December, after which bankruptcy was filed in March. LT's lavish new boutiques were all closed except for the Madison Avenue location.
If this sounds like an odd pairing, especially in light of Tiffany's recent closing of its Iridesse pearl boutique chain, consider that designers Richard Lambertson and John Truex will now be in charge of creating new leathergoods lines for the legendary jeweler's label as well as continuing the CFDA Award winning collection they founded.
Starting to make more sense now, no?
Tiffany Buys Lambertson (WWD)
Crowds descended upon 37 Wall Street today as Tiffany & Co. unveiled its latest branch store. You would have thought that they had forgotten that Manhattan has had a Tiffany for years - the original one.
After a morning press preview, gawkers lined up for a champagne buffet and petit fours shaped like tiny blue gift boxes. It was far too crowded for serious customers - claustrophic at times. Outside, we saw none of the carts handing out free coffee, cookies and newspapers we had been hearing about, but the diamond bedecked models made their appearance as the general public waited for the store's noontime debut.
Inside, it's a departure from Tiffany's usual branch décor which generally adapts design elements from their iconic Fifth Avenue flagship. The Wall Street building's 1907 white marble interior has been lovingly restored, and the Canadian architectural firm Yabu Pushelberg has cleverly created a glittering steel and glass construction which divides the main floor into more intimate selling areas (click right photo for larger view) around a 75-foot light installation by designer Ingo Maurer. Decorative metal louvers on the glass walls subtly reference the coffered ceiling at the flagship. A new staircase to the mezzanine leads to private rooms for important jewel shopping. It all makes for an stunningly lavish and alluring display, but unless you work in the neighborhood, why come all the way down to Wall Street just to shop at Tiffany's when the great big original is right at 57th and Fifth? At the very least, it may be worth it to venture south just to avoid the slack-jawed tourists who regularly throng the flagship's main floor, or you may simply prefer a smaller setting and edited selection. At any rate, both the retail and real estate worlds will be watching very closely to see if Tiffany as well as Hermès can make a luxury shopping enclave out of Wall Street.
Tiffany & Co. 37 Wall Street, Financial District
We're taking a little break from our bi-annual Fashion Week coverage because it's been so long since Alex Kuczynski has given us much to say. Today in Thursday Styles The Critical Shopper visits that most iconic of stores, Tiffany & Co. It may be one of the most famous stores in the world, aspirational to millions, and yet commonplace to others who see its fame as indicative of a lack of exclusivity. In fact its main floor is one of the great shopping tourist attraction in the city making it impenetrable during weekends and Holiday seasons, a place most New Yorkers would go out of their way to avoid. Tiffany presents a paradox of sorts, selling thousands of engagement rings a year, while savvy shoppers know that larger equal quality diamonds can be had for far better prices in any number of outlets. The premium price is for the little blue box that is essentially worthless, but invaluable to so many. But we aren't going to dissect Tiffany here, this is about Alex, and this week she once again tells a tale of scatterbrained idiocy,
...the best test, I thought, would be to see if an earring I left there for repair in 2002 was still at the store.
So much time had passed that Tiffany’s customer service department has moved to another floor. It had been so long that people I know have met, gotten engaged (with that little blue box), married, had a child and already divorced. It had been so long that I had lost all the paperwork stating my ownership of the earring.
On a Sunday afternoon last month, I sat waiting in the confessional-like carrels of the service department, expecting to be told that the small Schlumberger turquoise earring (a gift) had long been remanded to the bad, anonymous place where all unclaimed repaired earrings go. But after five minutes of gentle tapping at her computer, the attendant summoned me. It had been sent to an outlying warehouse, but they had it.
Here's the question: Who forgets to pick up a Schlumberger earring for five years? If there's anything exclusive and luxurious about Tiffany, it the Jean Schlumberger collection, which warrants its own private salon, set off from the bustle of the rest of the store. It is not jewelry one loses track of, and a fine jeweler doesn't just toss away unclaimed repairs like a dry cleaner that loses your pants. It is unlikely that many people (or any people, really) just forget about precious jewels they have sent for repair, but Alex is not just any person. Don't ever change, baby.
Critical Shopper: A Story in Every Box (NYTimes)
Tiffany & Co. 727 Fifth Avenue, Midtown