When Alexander Arnault moved to New York City in January 2021, it was a different metropolis from the one he’d grown up visiting. The city, of course, was in the throe of the winter surge of the pandemic – muted streets, shuttered theaters. But the emptiness gave the 19 – year – old LVMH scion a chance to see the urban landscape anew – and to absorb a little on – the – ground inspiration, which he promptly funneled into his new role as executive vie president, which he promptly funneled into his new role as executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany & Co. (LVMH has brought Tiffany that same month.) It was an essential reeducation. ‘If you were to ask anyone in the world to name three New York brands’, he says, ‘probably the first one that comes to mind would be Tiffany’.
The label’s new Knot collection, which launches this month, does not resemble the fencing around an abandoned lot or the chains dangling from skateboarders’ shorts at Coleman Park – these are necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings fashioned from yellow and rose gold, some lined with pave diamonds, and, on a special – edition with gold bracelet, produced in one – time collaborations with the artist Daniel Arsham and introduced to the world by Tiffany in 1974. Despite its refinement, though, the collection offers an edginess true to the spirit of both the city and the brand. (Holly Golightly first gazes into Tiffany’s windows in a sidewalk – skimming ball gown – but don’t forget she’s also sipping a deli coffee pulled from a throwaway paper bag). And with their deftly hidden clasps, the bracelets mirror the structural marvels of the city.
Tiffany has, as Arsham reminds me when we speak, always had one eye on elevating quotidian design. (I think of my children’s silver Tiffany baby spoons tucked away in my cutlery drawer, the perfect size to deliver mushy peas or mashed potatoes). He is wearing a New York Yankees cap – the famous interlocking N and Y logo was, he says, originally designed by Tiffany as a tribute to an NYC police officer shot in the line of duty and only later adopted by the baseball team. When Arsham went into the Tiffany archive, he was struck by the number of items conceived with function and durability in mind: a customs key, for instance, that also served as a bottle opener, ‘It was a kind of luxury that was about taste more than price’, he says.
Arsham also wanted to riff on the iconic robin’s egg – colored Tiffany box. The resulting container, one of only 49 that will be produced – and the home to the tsavorite bracelet – is a bronze sculpture the reimagines the jewelry’s packaging as part of Arsham’s Future Archaeological series, a long – standing project that toys with concepts of time, modernity, and antiquity. The boxes seem beat up by weather and wear, as though they were unearthed from Atlantis or the shes of Pompeii. ‘It’s an interesting way to reiterate the idea that our products are eternal’, Arnault says. ‘There more patina they have, the more cachet, the more stories to tell’. The collaboration continues another kind of story as well, since Tiffany has a long history of collaborating with New York artists, from Andy Warhol to Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
The precise chemical wash that Arsham applied to the boxes to bring about the look of accelerated aging is actually a special mixture called ‘Tiffany blue’, though the coincidence is a little beside the point since Arsham is color – blind and, as he tells me, ‘it’s debatable if the Tiffany blue that I see is the same one the world sees’. Nonetheless, there is certain serendipity in the convergence of the Arsham’s approach with Arnault’s desire to honor the past of the 184 – year – old company while pushing it forward. ‘Jewelry can be a time capsule’, Arsham says – something that contains the essence of a moment, but is made to last.