There’s a Tiffany for every point in your life. Exhibit A, the brand’s Asia Pacific vice president for marketing and communications Erica Kerner: “The brand I have had the longest relationship with in my life is Tiffany outlet. When I was born, I was given a Tiffany rattle. Every major moment in my life, I celebrated it with Tiffany — from when I graduated from middle school, I got the keychain with a little globe and an airplane; to when I turned 16 and I got a Return to Tiffany’s Sweet 16. When I got engaged, I got a replica Tiffany engagement ring and when I got married, I registered my wedding gifts at Tiffany outlet. Every big occasion I celebrated with a gift from Tiffany,” she tells YStyle during the cheap Tiffany Hardwear Manila launch at Bank Bar last week. No doubt this long personal attachment is what pretty much got her the job when she first interviewed for the brand.
For most of us, an affinity with Tiffany begins with a dream — just like the one that inspired the dreams of Holly Golightly herself in the film rendition of the Truman Capote classic, the brand’s iconic status equaled only by that opening sequence where Audrey Hepburn exits a yellow cab at daybreak, sinks her teeth into a brown paper bag croissant, still in last night’s pearls and Hubert de Givenchy LBD, to the tune of Moon River.
Such was the dream for Gliceria Rustia Tantoco, the founder of Rustan’s herself, making her daily pilgrimages to Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue spot whenever she found herself in the Big Apple as her daughter, Rustan’s member of the board Maritess Tantoco-Enriquez, recalls; and so too with her granddaughter, Rustan’s marketing communications manager Dina Arroyo-Tantoco. In the Philippines, Tiffany & Co has been in Rustan’s Department Stores since 1993.
“I never lived in New York, but whenever I traveled to the US, I always have to go. I always passed by the Tiffany outlet store — thinking of Audrey Hepburn in the film — and then I got married,” Arroyo-Tantoco says before showing me something shiny: “It’s my wedding ring.”
It’s a love affair the two Tantoco girls have inherited. “Tiffany has a beautiful South Sea pearl collection but there was a collar necklace that had huge, all-perfect pearls in practically the same size. Those are very hard to find,” Tantoco-Enriquez shares. “I told my father about it, so for their anniversary, he surprised her with it. She was so happy she wore it almost every day. After she passed away, that same necklace went to me and so did most of her Tiffany pieces” She is wearing one of her favorites, a necklace from the Atlas Collection.
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Rustan Commercial Corporation president Donnie Tantoco also felt a connection with a particular Tiffany piece: a rosary designed by Elsa Peretti, which he gifted to his grandmother when she was 91 years old. He notes, “She really believes in the rosary. It is the weapon of her life. Somebody took a picture of me giving it to her and Tiffany’s saw the photo after she passed away. They realized this came from her so they gave it back to me. It is now the rosary that I keep with me.”
He continues: “Tiffany is the only true luxury brand that’s from the United States. My grandmother loved that, on one hand, they had all the expensive, most beautiful, exquisite pieces that catered to the most affluent people in the world; but its also accessible luxury, because on the other end of the spectrum are pieces that are aspirational with the Tiffany outlet quality and artistry yet affordable. It’s democratizing quality that only a luxury brand from and in America can do.”
That’s why, for the longest time, the brand has eschewed celebrity endorsers. “We’ve always worked with celebrities for dressing during the Oscar’s season and for parties more as friends of the house so it is more organic,” Kerner explains. “As we move into the Hardwear launch we wanted to give it a new face.”
The first Tiffany Hardwear is a unisex bracelet from 1971, and previous design director Francesca Amfitheatrof took off from the spirit of equality, empowerment and breaking proverbial shackles from the ’70s in a collection that purports to “embody the power and spirit of New York City and the energy of its streets” in today’s context. Like the original, there are chunky rounded links as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Some have a detachable cheap Tiffany & Co padlock and an oversized metal sphere hanging on them, and can be worn as a long sautoir or wrapped several times — Golightly-style — around the neck or wrists. The links and balls also appear as earrings. Everything is in sterling silver or 18-carat yellow or rose gold. The links and balls have utilitarian connotations but its glossy finish and rounded edges are anything but; it is also more voluptuous and rounded that its predecessor, but it imbues a similar insouciance.
So, from birth to Sweet 16 to weddings and anniversaries, what’s the grand occasion for the new Hardwear which looks smashing on a black turtleneck like Lady Gaga dons it for the Grace Coddington-directed and –styled campaign, or a white tee as I picture it with? “You don’t need a special occasion for jewelry like this. It can just be a Tuesday!” Kerner encourages.
As Lady Gaga puts it: “Jewelry gives you the opportunity to pump up the volume of what you’re wearing but the joy is the real romance of jewelry. It is a misconception that a man or your lover has to buy your jewelry. A woman can buy herself jewelry and put it on with dignity (knowing) that you’ve earned it.”
Hardwear is Amfitheatrof’s swansong as Reed Krakoff (of Coach fame) assumes the chief artistic officer role, but Hardwear is indicative of the brand’s shift of gears. “Krakoff has been spending a lot of time with our craftsmen, in the archives, really studying Tiffany’s history and reimagining the brand. The one that fully has his standpoint is the home and accessories line which will be in the Philippines early next year and during the holidays in the US this year, reimagining the brand in a fun and whimsical way,” Kerner reveals, but emphasizes, “Tiffany’s jewelry designers and craftsmen have been with the brand for 30 and 40 years so even if we have a new creative director, they are at the heart of the brand; that’s what Tiffany’s is about.”