Elsa Peretti, who went from model Halston and regular Studio 54 in the 1960s and 1970s to one of the world’s most famous jewelry designers with timeless and flowing Tiffany & Co. collections often inspired by nature, is deceased. She was 80 years old.
She died Thursday evening while sleeping at her home in a small village near Barcelona, Spain, according to a statement from her family office in Zurich and the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation.
Peretti’s sculptural cuff bracelets, bean designs and open heart pendants are some of his most recognizable works. She also lent her classic aesthetic to functional products, including bowls, magnifying glasses, razors and even a pizza cutter made of sterling silver, a metal she favored and helped popularize as a luxury choice.
“Elsa was not just a designer but a way of life,” Tiffany said in a statement Friday. “Elsa explored nature with the insight of a scientist and the vision of a sculptor.”
Born in Florence, Italy to wealthy, conservative parents and educated in Rome and Switzerland, Peretti moved to Barcelona in her twenties and began working as a model, where she drew on a community of artists that included Salvador Dali. , according to an August profile. in the Wall Street Journal magazine. Shortly thereafter, she decamped to New York and began modeling for Halston and other top designers, throwing herself into jet set art and fashion. It was then that she started making jewelry, using the designers she worked for to incorporate her pieces.
It was Halston, a close friend, who introduced her to the top echelons of Tiffany, an exclusive collaboration that has lasted throughout her career.
The outspoken Peretti began designing for Tiffany in 1974. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its bone cuff that hugs the wrists, Tiffany has released new versions, some with turquoise and jade stones.
Describing herself as “retired” to the Wall Street Journal, she kept the hand, communicating with artisans around the world and checking the work of her workshops.
“His inspiration was often drawn from everyday articles – a bean, a bone, an apple could be transformed into cufflinks, bracelets, vases or lighters,” the family statement said. “Scorpions and snakes were made into attractive necklaces and rings, often in silver, which was one of his favorite materials. She herself said: “There is no new design, because the right lines and shapes are timeless. “
Of Peretti’s designs, Liza Minnelli told Vanity Fair in 2014: “Everything was so sensual, so sexy. I just loved it. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.
Peretti’s more than three dozen collections for Tiffany established her in luxury, but she also understood the need for budget flexibility among consumers. She was the originator of Tiffany’s Diamonds by the Yard line which began in 1974, based on the idea of spreading the stones on a simple chain and offering them at a range of prices. Today the line goes from $ 325 to $ 75,000.
“You have to be able to go out into the streets with your jewelry on,” she told the Journal. “Women can’t wear a million dollars. “
Peretti’s creations are part of the permanent collections of the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among others. In recognition of her work, Tiffany established the Elsa Peretti Chair in Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the first chair in the history of FIT.
She was also a philanthropist, establishing her foundation in honor of her father in 2000. She supports a range of projects, from human and civil rights to medical research and wildlife conservation.
The small village of Sant Martí Vell, where she died in Catalonia, was still close to her heart, according to the family statement. In 1968, she bought a mustard yellow house there and lovingly restored it over the next 10 years. She then had entire sections of the village restored, acquiring and preserving buildings, including a church. She also supported the excavation of the Roman ruins and the archiving of the history of the village and established a working vineyard that has been producing wines under the Eccocivi label since 2008.