Taken from the Winter Issue of Wonderland.
“People don’t display jewellery the way Tiffany does” – Richard Moore.
WHEN BAZ LUHRMANN announces a production, the world awaits with baited breath for an opulent event, never just a piece of cinematic art. 2013 was no different. The Great Gatsby reached screens with all the pomp, circumstance and ceremony F. Scott Fitzgerald’s adored literature deserved. Gatsby fever hit: 20s dresses lined stores and the juxtaposed gluttony of the Prohibition took hold of us all.
Tiffany & Co was no different. Lying between the champagne filled glasses and miniature chandeliers that hung behind the NYC Fifth Avenue flagship storefront panes were diamond and pearl adorned headbands and cocktail rings from Tiffany & Co’s The Great Gatsby Collection. You could feel the opulence of the roaring 20s on the Manhattan streets.
“If I look back on the seven years that I’ve been at Tiffany, the collaboration we did with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin for The Great Gatsby was a phenomenal experience,” says Richard Moore, Tiffany & Co’s VP of Creative Visual Merchandising. The partnership wasn’t Tiffany’s first venture into the world of art, with forays dating back to the brand’s inception in 1837, when Charles Lewis Tiffany, an original trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and designer of the American Art Nouveau movement, founded the brand with his son, Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Come the 1950s, the now legendary Gene Moore had joined Tiffany as VP Window Dresser. At Tiffany’s, Mr. Moore tapped artist Robert Rauschenberg to design backdrops and other figures for Tiffany’s windows between 1956 and 1958. It was those creations by Rauschenberg that not only exposed his genius as an artist but turned the windows at Tiffany into works of art. But, what did Mr. Moore see in the young artist that provoked him to bring Rauschenberg and his skill set on to design for Tiffany in the first place?
“Robert Rauschenberg was a mix media artist and I think what Gene Moore was attracted to was somebody that could create a scene in an interesting way,” Richard Moore explains. It was those skills that birthed backdrops of a road that lay in the middle of the dessert to hold pearl bracelets and pomegranate casts for diamonds to sit in.
“Andy Warhol designed many Tiffany Christmas cards. Robert Mapplethorpe shot wonderful Tiffany ads for me for Interview, ” John Loring, Tiffany’s former Design Director recalls. Contributing to Tiffany’s artistic legacy himself, Loring has written over 20 books on the brand’s glittering history.
In 2016, Tiffany continues to draws inspiration from Gene Moore. “We have two great books that are full of many of [Moore’s] past designs and photographs of the windows. We also have an archive of some great content,” says Richard Moore. “We’re always using them as sources of inspiration because his windows were so iconic and so memorable and I think what he did was capture Tiffany’s voice very well, so we often refer to them directly or indirectly, because I believe that voice is still relevant to today’s consumer.” It’s this creative foundation that has helped Tiffany create jaw-dropping sets, including the Winter Wonderland that features a reindeer and sleigh, a bow bridge and chandeliers. The love Tiffany has for art goes beyond it solely serving as inspiration for inventive window concepts.
Between the brand’s support for the Whitney Museum of American Art and championing actresses Lupita Nyong’o and Elle Fanning for the AW16 campaign, Tiffany’s admiration for creativity knows no bounds. Crossing the Atlantic this winter, the Tate Modern is set to host a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective from 1 December to 2 April 2017, supported by the jewellers.
“Throughout the exhibition viewers will get a sense of the sheer enthusiasm that Rauschenberg had for all types of art-making,” Assistant Curator at the Tate Modern, Fiontán Montan shares. “Highlights include a large room dedicated to his landmark ‘combine’ works, which were a hybrid of painting and sculpture that included everyday found objects, documentation of his performances in downtown New York and his sets for dance productions by Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham.”
Art has had a presence in Tiffany & Co’s legacy since the brand’s earliest days, and you can expect it to stick around for the rest.