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Meet Francesca Amfitheatrof: Tiffany & Co.’s First Female Design Director

    Tiffany Design Director Francesca Amfitheatrof brings a modern touch to the beloved brand.
Tiffany Design Director Francesca Amfitheatrof brings a modern touch to the beloved brand.

When Francesca Amfitheatrof was hired as Tiffany’s design director in 2013, she did her research before showing up to work in New York City, studying  archives dating back to the late 1800s when the company’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, was in charge. She focused on iconic collections from artists who came before her. While much has been written about the fact that she’s Tiffany & Co.’s first female design director, she found that “endless women have left a mark on this brand”—including Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso.

The star of Amfitheatrof’s first collection is the Tiffany “T” itself, using the letter’s minimalist shape to create rings, cuffs, bracelets and necklaces in 18k yellow, white and rose gold, sterling silver, titanium, ceramic and gemstones (primarily diamonds).

“Tiffany T is first and foremost modern, and makes no apologies for that,” says Amfitheatrof, who was raised in Great Britain, Tokyo and Moscow, and recently moved from London to Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.

A sketch for the Tiffany T collection shows how Amfitheatrof deconstructed the letter T.

“‘T’ 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. Tiffany T is sculptural and bold and very closely linked to the architecture of this city,” says Amfitheatrof. Indeed, The New York Times called Tiffany T a “Brooklynized take on fine jewelry.” The pieces are meant to be paired as easily with a ball gown as with a pair of jeans and a crisp white shirt.

This isn’t the first time Amfitheatrof has been at the helm of the direction of a major brand. After school in England, she designed jewelry for Chanel and Fendi, furniture for Alessi and Muriel Brandolini, tabletop for Wedgewood Stoke and fragrance for Claridge’s hotel. She also represented contemporary artists and worked as a consultant and curator for museums and individuals. Now she’s focusing on keeping Tiffany & Co. modern without losing its timeless  appeal. “Tiffany has always been a company of innovators and dreamers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with design,” she says. “This links directly back to founder Charles Lewis Tiffany, who was an entrepreneur long before anyone even knew what that term meant. He was a firebrand, a risk taker, someone who constantly did things no one else had the courage to try. At Tiffany, we carry forward that spirit.”

Items from Tiffany T in 18k gold: square bracelet, $5,000; cutout cuff with white ceramic, $8,500; chain bracelet, $5,500

While Amfitheatrof is also a risk taker, she’s often compared to another brand icon, Audrey Hepburn, who starred as Holly Golightly in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” With her dark hair, smooth skin and sculptural eyebrows, she bears a striking resemblance to Hepburn, and they both quietly command attention. The same can be said of Amfitheatrof’s favorite piece in her Tiffany T line. “I love the square bracelet in 18-karat gold. It’s not the largest piece in the collection, but it has great presence on its own while also somehow working in well with any other piece in the collection for a more textured, layered look.”


Coming Attractions

Here’s the inside scoop on Amfitheatrof’s highly anticipated follow-up to the T collection:
• The Blue Book 2015 will be the first annual collection curated by Amfitheatrof.
• It will be inspired by the energy and fluidity of water. According to the company, “The collection is a graphic exploration of the complex variations of color and line that are generated as water is transformed by tide and light, clouds and coastline.”

Nearby News

We spoke to Tom O’Rourke, market vice president of Tiffany & Co.’s Northeast division about the latest at the luxe location on Greenwich Avenue, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

What was a hot item over the recent holidays? The Mixed T Chain necklace in 18k gold [seen on Amfitheatrof, above]. Customers find this piece extremely versatile as the necklace hinges, allowing you to wear it at varying lengths or even as two separate necklaces.

Tanzanite and diamond 18k gold ring (left), $30,000; golden cultured pearl and diamond 18k yellow gold ring, price on request,

Do you have a favorite sales story? One Friday night, a young couple entered the Greenwich store just before closing on a holiday weekend. The woman admired a pear-shaped diamond ring. Patrick, the sales professional, placed it on her finger. To everyone’s surprise, her boyfriend suddenly knelt and proposed to her. During a champagne toast in the private salon, the newly engaged man asked Patrick where he might make reservations for a romantic dinner. Recognizing the difficulty of getting reservations on a holiday weekend, Patrick enlisted his colleagues to call their every contact. The perfect restaurant was found, and a bottle of wine was sent to the couple’s table with best wishes from everyone at Tiffany.

What else makes the Greenwich Avenue store so special? In 2000, the Greenwich Avenue store became the first Tiffany & Co. location to open in Connecticut. We have built many lasting relationships in the area and look forward to continue celebrating life’s most special occasions with these customers.

Portraits by Martin Cook

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