Zurich, March 19, 2021?? It was with great sadness that Elsa Peretti’s death of natural causes yesterday was announced by her family office in Zurich and the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. The designer, who was famous for her creations for the US high-end jeweler Tiffany, died at the age of 80 in a village near Barcelona, Spain. Her legacy includes a range of exceptional design works as well as a foundation dedicated to the humanitarian, environmental and conservation causes. As a true global citizen, her absence will be strongly felt in all of the various circles in which she has played such an active and creative role.
A pioneering designer
Elsa Peretti was born in Florence and educated in Rome and Switzerland. She later returned to Rome for a degree in interior design. By 1969 she established herself as a model in New York and Barcelona and also began to design her own jewelry.
American fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo used some of their pieces in a fashion show, where they became an instant hit. The next day it was New York’s toast. During this time she met the legendary US fashion designer and 1970s icon Halston, who became her lifelong friend and with whom she worked frequently. In 1974, Halston also introduced Elsa to the US jeweler Tiffany & Co., with whom she quickly established an exclusive collaboration that would last throughout her career.
Their inspiration often came from everyday objects – a bean, a bone, an apple could be turned into cufflinks, bracelets, vases or lighters, scorpions and snakes became appealing necklaces and rings, often in silver, which was one of their preferred materials. She herself said: “There is no new design because good lines and shapes are timeless” and in fact her pieces are as modern and wearable today as ever.
Elsa Peretti’s designs are in the permanent collections of the British Museum in London, England; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In recognition of her remarkable work, Tiffany established the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the first endowed professorship in FIT’s history. Among other things, the designer was awarded an honorary doctorate from FIT in 2001. She also received the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award for Jewelry in 1971 and the Fellow Award from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1981 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, making her Accessory Designer of the Year.
Elsa Peretti was known for her witty charm, her openness to others, friendliness and generosity. She had a deep humanitarian calling and supported cultural, scientific and educational initiatives and was committed to the defense of human rights. In 2000, she founded a charity, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, in honor of her father. The foundation supports a wide range of projects to promote human and civil rights, with a special focus on the right to education, children’s rights and women’s rights and dignity. Proposals are sought internationally and the Foundation has supported requests from around the world, including initiatives on behalf of unrepresented people and oppressed minorities, to defend their right to exist and preserve their culture. In addition, it supports medical and scientific research projects to promote physical and mental health as well as targeted measures such as the construction of hospitals and other sanitary facilities. It has funded public awareness campaigns for nature and environmental protection and promotes culture and art. The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has financed more than 1,000 charitable projects in more than 80 countries with a total investment volume of over 56 million euros.
Sant Martí Vell, your Catalan refuge
The small village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia has always been close to her heart. In 1968 she bought a mustard-yellow house there, which she lovingly restored over the next ten years and which has become her preferred residence in recent years. She then had whole parts of the village restored abroad, acquired and preserved other buildings such as the church, supported the excavation of Roman ruins and the archiving of the village’s history. She also built a winery that has been marketing fine wines under the Eccocivi label since 2008.
It promoted the visual arts and promoted the consolidation, protection and dissemination of the historical, artistic, cultural, architectural and craft heritage of Catalonia. In 2013 Elsa Peretti was the first non-Catalan person to be awarded the National Culture Prize of the National Council for Culture and Art (CoNCA).
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Elsa Peretti Holding AG
A couple of things people said about Elsa Peretti:
“She is one of the greatest jewelry designers of the 20th century and has taken us beyond commercial success into design history. She is a halo for the entire brand.” – Michael Kowalski, former chairman and CEO of Tiffany and Co.
“Elsa brought out all of these things – the bone bracelet that I remember best. Everything was so sensual, so sexy. I just loved it. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen and I’d seen a lot. Since then I’ve only really worn #Peretti jewelry. ”Liza Minnelli talks about Elsa, Vanity Fair, August 2014.
“She’s looking at that thing, but she just isn’t looking at it. She touches it, she turns it around, back, front, side. To really get to the object she’s looking at and that comes through. ”Hiro talks about Elsa.
“She was the most unique, wonderful and chic woman I had seen in years. With this man’s hat and this wonderful gait? “Joe Eula on Elsa – Vogue Italia, 1996.
“It doesn’t come from a closed culture, it’s all mixed up. It’s not American, it’s not Europe, it’s not Japanese, it’s Elsa. ”Hiro on Elsa from” Elsa Peretti 25 Years Retrospective “1999.
“We believe Elsa’s work is continuous evidence that great design goes beyond fashion, which is at the heart of our corporate philosophy. She is one of the greatest jewelry designers of the 20th century and has taken us beyond commercial success into design history. She is a halo for the entire brand. Elsa’s work has a unique instinctive elemental magnetism. She’s a design genius. “Michael Kowalski Former CEO of Tiffany and Co from an interview for How to Spend it.
“In Japan they are given an honor that is bestowed on extraordinary personalities. If we were in Japan and around the world, Elsa Peretti would have this honor. She would be considered an international living treasure. I am in awe of Elsa – I have always been because she has the very rare combination of the most individual chic, which becomes even more individual through her simplicity, friendliness and amazing vision. She is a woman who helped create a new idea of beauty for the rest. ”Ralph Rucci, Couturier, Lampoon Magazine, Maggio 2020.
“Elsa has given our design focus a new intensity, a new commitment, a new passion.” Mike Kowalski from “Elsa Peretti 25 Years Retrospective” 1999.
“She will notice someone’s shoes. She notices something in a corner that most people wouldn’t, and she’ll pick it up and say, “Well, isn’t that nice? Take a look at that “?? you know. It lets you see things. “Liz Franceschini, from” Elsa Peretti 25 Years Retrospective “1999.
“All of us at Tiffany have a deep loyalty to Elsa, and she always reciprocated that loyalty.” William Chaney, From “Elsa Peretti 25 Years Retrospective” 1999.