If looking for a little respite in trying times, Truman Capote’s most famous protagonist had one suggestion: “What I found does the most good,” Holly Golightly explained to readers back in 1958, “is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
While we can’t vouch for the scientific properties of a visit to Tiffany’s, Golightly had a point. After all, it’s hard to overstate the brand’s significance in the postwar American consciousness. Andy Warhol designed Christmas cards for it; renowned jeweller Jean Schlumberger came on board; and then, of course, Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s became not just a bestseller, but a lauded film in which the image of Audrey Hepburn in a simple black dress and gloves remains among cinema’s most indeliable.
But if Golightly was impressed by Tiffany’s New York flagship, she would be blown away by Vision & Virtuosity, now open at London’s Saatchi Gallery. The exhibition, first staged in Shanghai in 2019, uses 400 pieces from the archives to take visitors on a journey through everything from window displays and pop-culture moments to one-of-a-kind gems, such as the recently acquired 80-carat Empire Diamond.
“It is a multi-sensory experience with digital projections and scenography unlike anything we’ve done in the past,” says executive vice president, product and communications, Alexandre Arnault.
“It was an exciting undertaking from start to finish,” he says of the exhibition’s four-year development. “During the initial stages … we spent hours at the Tiffany archives with these spectacular objects. These pieces are truly symbolic of Tiffany’s heritage; they offer a glimpse into the standard for quality and beauty in the world of Tiffany for the past 185 years.”
The 29-year-old Arnault, who joined the house last year, is also the brains behind the blockbuster campaign featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z. “It has always been a dream of mine to work with the Carters and we were lucky enough to be able to make it happen,” he says. “Tiffany has always stood for love, strength and self-expression. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the embodiment of the modern love story. There is not a more iconic couple that better represents these values.”
Unsurprisingly, Arnault still has a soft spot for the brand’s most celebrated ambassador. “One of my personal favourites is the Breakfast at Tiffany’s chapter that features Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress and the Oscar for [the movie’s original theme song] Moon River,” he says. “This important cultural moment served as the source of inspiration for our About Love campaign featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z.”
It has been a busy year for Tiffany & Co. as the brand joined the growing LVMH stable alongside Dior, Fendi and Bulgari, among many others. “I think anyone who visits our brand exhibition will understand why Tiffany was attractive to LVMH,” says Arnault. “Besides creating the most extraordinary jewellery collections in its almost 200 years of history, Tiffany is so much more than its products — it’s actually a cultural icon.”
It’s true, of course. But for a company with this much cultural currency, the obvious question becomes, where do you go next?
“We will continue to reimagine collections and explore projects and collaborations that create excitement for the brand. Everything we do is anchored in innovation and we will continue to define that as we engage with the worlds of art, music, sports and technology,” says Arnault. “We are building the ultimate luxury lifestyle jeweller. We’ll continue Tiffany’s longstanding success in balancing tradition and modernity, and we will bring Tiffany into the future.”
“I’m most excited about continuing to evolve the Tiffany brand and vision. The options are limitless,” he continues. “I believe the best is yet to come.” “I believe the best is yet to come.”
Vision & Virtuosity runs until August 17. Tickets available on the Vision & Virtuosity app. For details, visit tiffany.com.au ■