Reed Krakoff Reimagines Old-World Luxury For Tiffany & Co.

Reed Krakoff

Since Reed Krakoff took the design reins at Tiffany & Co. in February 2017, as the historic jeweller’s chief artistic officer— a newly created position—his affinity for high-minded modernism has been evident.

Tasked with freshening the 181-year-old house, Krakoff (who formerly served as Coach’s executive creative director after holding a senior design role at Ralph Lauren, and more recently as the sartorial wizard behind his self-titled luxury womenswear label) is in charge of directing the design of Tiffany’s jewellery and luxury accessories—a superb match, it seems, based on the designer’s personal attachment to the brand.

“I grew up with Tiffany. At any special event with my family or other people I knew, Tiffany always seemed to be a part of it,” shares Krakoff, who also discloses that he is a longtime collector of the jeweller’s famous glass lamps. “Tiffany represented the best of everything: a place where you could find the perfect gift, and where people went when there was a special moment to celebrate.” Leading store design, e-commerce, marketing, and advertising for the storied American brand is also in his purview.

The earliest glimpse into Krakoff’s vision for the house was unveiled with the company’s Fall/Winter 2017 advertising campaign, entitled “There’s Only One”. The jeweller assembled a fresh, cool cast of recognizable faces from all different spheres (Zoë Kravitz, Janelle Monáe, St. Vincent, David Hallberg, Elle Fanning, and Cameron Russell) for a series of close-up portraits snapped by visionary Dutch fashion photography duo Inez & Vinoodh, which celebrated personal style and individuality.

Then, last November, came Krakoff’s first major design footprint for the luxury purveyor. The three-time CFDA Award winner and highly respected fashion figure took mundane, everyday household items and transformed them into the extraordinary: a ball of yarn made of hand-spun silver, crazy straws crafted of rose gold vermeil, and even a paper plate rendered in sterling silver, to name a few. Liberally incorporating historic trademarks of the brand throughout, such as Tiffany’s signature robin’s-egg blue, the expansive, tongue-in-cheek home accessories collection was born out of the idea that exquisite, opulent things made of hand-wrought quality should not be limited to special occasions.

Paper cutouts of petals. Photos courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

“Luxury does not equal formality. Something that’s beautifully made, very high quality, but done in a less formal way is a big part of the narrative as it relates to Reed and his design story,” comments Richard Moore, Tiffany’s vice president creative director, who over-sees all things related to store and window design. “Who would have thought of hand-engraving a grilled-cheese sandwich on a sterling silver paper plate? It’s screwed up, brilliant—I love it! It’s exactly what it should be,” Moore raves about a handcrafted dish that sits on display on the refurbished home and accessories floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City.

This season, that same mindset of everyday luxury is at the heart of Krakoff’s debut jewellery collection for Tiffany, Paper Flowers.

The name and design of the newly launched assortment of indulgent adornments, which incorporates both high and fine jewellery, were inspired by the notion of flower petals that had been cut from paper and delicately pinned backed together with ribbon in an artisanal way. “The other piece of it is the idea of taking something historical. Tiffany has been known for flowers, things from nature,” says Krakoff. “But [we’ve done] it in a much more modern and casual way.”

Crafted of highly polished platinum and set with precious gemstones such as vivid yellow diamonds and brilliant purple-blue tanzanites and sapphires, the collection stuns with various new-and-now floral motifs found within necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. “When you look at the diamond pieces in particular, there are more open-space patterns than typical diamond jewellery, where usually it’s about as many diamonds as possible—as sparkly and formal as possible,” shares Krakoff. “These motifs combine high-jewellery and day-jewellery techniques. It’s all this idea of understated style, which is really the essence of American style.”

Tiffany Paper Flowers firefly ring in platinum with white diamonds and a yellow diamond.

For an extra dose of whimsy, tanzanites and sapphires form eye-catching gradient patterns throughout some of the jewellery, while yellow diamonds echo the hue of fireflies in others. “You see [fireflies] hidden on rings and necklaces. It adds a bit of magic surprise to the pieces,” he comments.

True to Tiffany’s unmatched craftsmanship and attention to detail, the pièce de résistance is the collection’s high jewellery bib collar necklace, which features over 68 carats with a mix of pear-shaped and round diamonds, and where each asymmetrical petal motif looks as if it’s joined together with the next with incredible ease. “The choker is my favourite because it has a younger silhouette, but it’s done in a very elevated way,” says Krakoff. “I love it for its luxe but cool toughness. It takes wearing big diamonds out of the formal.”

Tiffany Paper Flowers necklace in platinum with pear-shaped and round brilliant diamonds.

As for what Tiffany fans can expect to see next as the designer forges ahead? “New flowers, new insects, and different colours and metals,” shares Krakoff on the continuation of the Paper Flowers narrative. “We’re working on a sterling silver concept,” he adds. “Even though Paper Flowers started out as fine jewellery, sterling silver has a place in it. Things don’t always have to be so linear and restrictive.”