FRANCESCA AMFITHEATROF IN NEW YORK, JULY 2014. STYLING: KARL TEMPLER. TURTLENECK: BURBERRY LONDON. JEWELRY: TIFFANY & CO. HAIR PRODUCTS: PHYTO, INCLUDING VOLUMACTIVE AND MATTE TEXTURE CREAM. HAIR: ORLANDO PITA FOR ORLO SALON. MAKEUP: HANNAH MURRAY. MANICURE: MEGUMI YAMAMOTO FOR DIOR VERNIS.
Taking the design helm of one of the world’s most renowned jewelry brands requires many talents, but rebellion is rarely one of them. “My dad wanted me to come to university in America,” explains Francesca Amfitheatrof, the new design director of Tiffany & Co. “But I knew I wanted to be in the arts, so I applied to art school in England instead.” Her defiance paid off.
It’s been a year since Amfitheatrof relocated from London to New York to oversee the rarefied, blue-box luxury house. Unlike many heritage companies in need of reviving, Tiffany & Co., now in its 177th year of business, didn’t exactly require a high-wattage resuscitation. That made Amfitheatrof’s job a much more nuanced one. “Throughout history, Tiffany has been very much at the forefront of modernism, but it also has moments when it’s just producing beautiful jewelry,” she says. “My task is to make pieces that speak to women today.” With more women buying jewelry for themselves, Amfitheatrof’s role as Tiffany’s first female design director further underscores the company’s mission to keep up with modern times. “I look at jewelry because I love the design of it,” she says. “I really want it—not just for investment or symbolic meaning, like when you get engaged or married. It becomes much closer to who we are.”
For fall, Amfitheatrof unveils her debut collection—the Tiffany T collection—which pays tribute to the great cities of the world. Clean, architectural lines take shape in bracelets and chains of linked T’s, while the subtle incorporation of ceramic lends a cool blend of artistry and modernism. Much of Amfitheatrof’s inspiration can be traced to her stylish, globe-hopping childhood. Her father was bureau chief of Time magazine, a post that required relocating every four years to various cities, including Tokyo, Rome, London, and Moscow. Her mother worked for Valentino and Armani during their time in Rome, offering Amfitheatrof an early glimpse into the world of fashion. The fact that Tiffany & Co. remains forever associated with New York isn’t lost on the designer, who immersed herself in the house’s archives before taking the job. Like New York, Tiffany, too, is permanent and changing at the same time. “That’s also my task: to create a single voice for the whole brand,” she says. “It’s so vast, you can really lose yourself.”