By Mara Model
AS 2014 DRAWS TO A CLOSE, strong, sophisticated women are using their voices and skills more than ever to drive the luxe lifestyle forward. What “forward” means is still being defined, but in the world of design Francesca Amfitheatrof—trained silversmith, jeweler and Tiffany & Co.’s first female design director in its 177 years of business—is part of this evolution.
It’s not surprising to find Amfitheatrof in this role. Growing up in several international cities, she immersed herself in art and culture. Her parents also had artistic and fashion roots with her father being a Time bureau chief and mother a public relations executive at Valentino and Armani. Before joining Tiffany, she worked on collections for some of the most prominent high-end brands, including Chanel, Fendi, Marni, Alessi and Asprey.
Amfitheatrof moved to Brooklyn last year and brought her global vision to Tiffany. She launched the Tiffany T, a rich collection of cuffs, necklaces and rings featuring a bold, sculptural look evocative of Manhattan’s architecture. In the midst of a world tour supporting the Tiffany T launch, HudsonMOD caught up with Amfitheatrof and discussed her T designs, living in New York City and what’s in store next.
After living in Rome, Tokyo and England, how has living in Brooklyn and working in New York City been for you? In New York, people have such great energy and curate their looks in a really interesting way. Honestly, I can’t think of a more exciting place I could possibly be.
What was the process of designing the Tiffany T? “T” felt like a natural jumping off point for my work here. It pays homage to the Tiffany name, but it also has a verticality and angularity that I associate with the energy and intensity of New York. There is a lot of New York in Tiffany T, and by that I mean the relentless movement, optimism and creativity you find on these streets. [New York] is a place of courage and reinvention that constantly sparks creativity. What I love about it too, though, is that it’s democratic. It’s an attitude, not an age.
What fashion designers inspired you this year? Haider Ackermann, A/W 2014 Collection is absolutely perfect to be worn with the T collection. It is all about proportion, simplicity, purity and strength—all qualities I searched for while creating T. I also love the Chanel supermarket collection and everything by Preen. These three designers have all the qualities that inspire me.
What does becoming the first female design director for Tiffany mean to you? We have endless women who have really left a mark on this brand, and that’s been a huge influence. At Tiffany, we carry forward the spirit of risk and vision. We’re unfettered by historical styles or schools of design. Rather, we create with a freedom to make—and break—our own rules.
What designs are you working on next? Blue Book 2015 [a new high jewelry collection] for which I drew my inspiration from the art of the sea.
Define luxury. For me luxury is about purity and originality rather than ostentation and complication. Not having to fuss, not having to work too hard, and being approachable and inviting—that’s luxurious to me and is often the ultimate goal when I design. There’s real beauty when you wear something—whether it’s jewelry or fashion—that is effortless and suits you so perfectly. It becomes part of who you are.
What’s something that readers don’t know about you but should? When I’m on holiday, I’ll spend as much time visiting jewelry stores as I do museums and galleries.
Photos Courtesy of Martin Crook, Tiffany & Co.