Women in the arts: Elsa Peretti
An artistic beauty
Born on May 1, 1940 in Florence to a wealthy family, Peretti spent her childhood and formative years in Rome. As a child, she possessed an intense fascination with nature and later studied interior design at the Vobicela school. Bearing the height and striking facial structure of a model, Peretti moved to Barcelona in the '60s where she sat for Salvador Dali (wearing a Paco Rabane dress) and became enamoured with Gaudi architecture and sculpture.
In 1968, like so many young models still do, she moved to New York to further her modelling career. Peretti's elegant Italian looks and innate style led her to develop friendships with iconic '60s and '70s designers like Halston and Oscar de la Renta, whom she later designed jewellery, accessories and perfume bottles for.
The husky-voiced Peretti quickly became a fixture on the New York social scene, spending time with the likes of Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol and his Factory crowd. Sought out by one of the leading tastemakers of the time, Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Peretti partied at Studio 54 and even modelled for legendary photographer Helmut Newton. One of his most enduring images features Peretti dressed in a Playboy bunny suit, leaning against a rooftop edge with the New York city skyline behind her.
Peretti developed a particularly close relationship with fashion designer Halston, and played multiple roles of muse, model and jewellery designer. Eventually, her fertile creative mind and high fashion credentials led her to team up with Tiffany & Co. as one of their jewellery designers, which was announced in 1974.
Still a designer for the luxury jeweller to this day, Peretti enjoys status as one of their most celebrated and talented recruits and isa fixture in fashion history. She was inducted into the International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1973 and in 1990 had a collection of her jewellery and tableware designs showcased at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.
In 1996, Peretti was named Accessory Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and in 1999, celebrated her 25th anniversary with Tiffany & Co. by establishing an Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewellery Design at the FIT. The accolades continued with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from FIT in 2001. But it's not just awards that prove Peretti's influence - her unbridled talent and creativity speak for themselves through the sensual and evocative nature of her designs. Now aged in her seventies, her timeless and best-selling creations still mark her as one of the best jewellery designers in the world.
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