Tiffany probably lives in your pop-culture subconscious in some way or another. Maybe your roommate had a Breakfast at Tiffany's poster taped up in their college dormroom, or you were gifted a Tiffany baby rattle as a newborn, or someone you knew wore an Elsa Peretti bean necklace or bone cuff. Maybe it was even subtler than that: the gleaming trophies for the Superbowl, World Series, or NBA finals–all made by Tiffany.
The American jeweler, founded in 1837, shows up in so many parts of American life and culture. Abroad, though, it’s a different story. Across Europe and parts of Asia, the brand isn’t as culturally enmeshed. “The perception of the brand is different, people haven’t lived with Tiffany,” says Alexandre Arnault, the executive vice president of product and communications. Arnault, 30, the third eldest of LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault's five children, moved to New York when he assumed his role at Tiffany in 2021. (Previously, he was CEO at luggage brand Rimowa.) “Being French,” he explains, “Tiffany has been in France for a long time but not necessarily in the same places as you would see competitors.”
That’s why Tiffany opened a massive exhibition this past week at London’s Saatchi Gallery. “I think [the exhibit] helps people to get closer to it and understand the history,” says Arnault. Called “Vision & Virtuosity,” it showcases more than 400 objects from the archives, including the famed 128-carat yellow Tiffany Diamond (worn by Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé) and the original script from Breakfast at Tiffany’s marked up with Hepburn’s notes. (This is the second stop for the exhibition, which first debuted in Shanghai in 2019, though this incarnation features more jewels, as well as the iconic little black Givenchy dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The exhibit will be open in London through August 19.)
Through seven sprawling rooms overtaking the gallery, the exhibit aims to show not just the brand’s history–the first Tiffany blue box from 1878 and the first Tiffany blue book catalog from 1845–are both on display, but also its craft and artistry, displaying works by Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, and John Loring.
There is an entire room dedicated to viewing the Tiffany Diamond, including a filter made in collaboration with Snapchat so you can virtually try it on. Other impressive interactive innovations include the tech-forward: a wall where attendees can doodle love notes with their fingers and “send” the message across the room; and the refreshingly analog: a room where you can try on an actual Tiffany engagement ring.
As well as an immersion in all things Tiffany, the exhibit also trades on one of its less visible assets: New York City. As the birthplace of Tiffany and the home of its flagship Fifth Avenue store, much of the exhibit is devoted to recreating Manhattan moments. There’s a facade of the Fifth Ave. store, the front of a taxi jutting out of one wall for the inevitable selfie moment.
For the celebrity-stacked opening party (brand ambassadors Gal Gadot, Blackpink’s
Rosé, and Florence Pugh were all there), the top floor of the Saatchi gallery was converted into a classic New York diner serving pastrami sandwiches and ice cream sundaes, with Mark Ronson serving as house DJ.
Maybe this endearingly rose-colored view of New York City has something to do with how Tiffany's newish VP sees his new home. “New York is a city I love for its pace,” he says. “When it’s not too cold I walk to the office and feel the energy of the city. It just takes you in.” When I challenge his city credentials by asking for his favorite pizza spot, he has an unimpeachable answer: Lucali’s in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, which also happens to be Jay-Z and Beyoncé's favorite pizza spot, and they also just happened to star in a major Tiffany's campaign. New York is serendipitous like that.