For years, Tiffany & Co has been the custodian of the New York City cornerstone of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. Its façade, made iconic by one free-spirited Holly Golightly — embodied by Audrey Hepburn in all her inimitable elegance and grace — would, for decades after, witness an unending throng of visitors recreating the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by its window display, revolving doors and Atlas clock. The flagship store became a permanent fixture in pop culture and New York’s mise-en-scène. It represented a place free of judgement, where no one would bat an eyelid at someone enjoying her morning croissant and takeout coffee in strings of pearls and black opera gloves.
Many would argue that the Tiffany & Co store meant more to the vibrant city than just a retail institution. It exists as its crown jewel; it is a landmark in its own right. And after a handful of years under the canvas, the store reopened on April 27 with that new moniker — the Landmark.
The occasion marks the luxury jeweller’s first holistic renovation of the store since it opened in 1940. A juxtaposition of old and new, past and future, hidden and revealed treasures, anchors the transformation. While the interiors have been completely reimagined, the beloved façade was refurbished to honour its original design, paying homage to the building’s structure.
“The reopening of the iconic Fifth Avenue Landmark is a major milestone for our house. Symbolic of a new era for Tiffany & Co, the Landmark is much more than a jewellery store; it is a cultural hub with an exquisite showcase of architecture and superior hospitality, as well as cutting-edge art and design. It sets a new bar for luxury retail on a global scale,” says its president and CEO Anthony Ledru.
Two major forces were integral to the store’s new look: legendary architect Peter Marino and Shohei Shigematsu, who is a partner at OMA New York. Marino was in charge of the interior architecture while Shohei spearheaded the renovation of the building’s core and circulation infrastructure as well as the addition of a new three-storey volume above the existing structure. The Landmark is among Manhattan’s largest stores, offering a unique experience replete with custom artwork, immersive displays and never-before-seen precious jewels.
Clients are ushered into an expansive main floor, where jewellery cases are illuminated by a ceiling installation comprising an abstraction of facets that spans nearly the whole room. Immersive, sweeping views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline are projected on the walls on the ground floor; they serve as mirrors when the video is turned off. Here, one can also find a new Tiffany & Co clock, inspired by the original Atlas statue.
Moving up, a sculptural spiral staircase with undulating transparent balustrades adorned with rock crystal reflects the sensual and organic designs of Elsa Peretti. It leads to the eighth floor, where a dedicated museum and exhibition space will offer a rotation of compelling concepts and unique storytelling experiences, starting in early June with Tiffany’s Blue Book High Jewellery presentation.
One can now also pencil in a breakfast appointment at the Blue Box Cafe, redesigned to include a private dining area and bar with art installations, to enjoy Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s seasonally inspired daytime menu.
A range of exclusive designs and one-of-a-kind creations are also set to debut at Tiffany & Co to commemorate the reopening. This will include extraordinary diamond watches, limited-edition home objects and eyewear inspired by the Tiffany Setting engagement ring. And perhaps the biggest news of all is that the legendary 128.54-carat yellow Tiffany Diamond will be displayed for all to see. Designed by the brand’s new chief artistic officer of jewellery and high jewellery Nathalie Verdeille, the yellow diamond has been transformed into a convertible brooch-cum-pendant with five diamond-encrusted birds surrounding the stone. It will take pride of place on the main floor.
Those bent on discovering more than diamonds at Landmark can start with a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that LVMH bought in 2021. Basquiat’s Equals Pi featured in Tiffany’s fall campaign that same year, titled “About Love” and starring Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Now, the 1982 work that is significant for its bold shade of blue that comes close to the brand’s signature robin’s egg blue hangs above the elevators at the refurbished store, inviting visitors to step inside from Fifth Avenue, tarry a while, and absorb the luxury surrounding them before making their way to the upper floors.
Basquiat, an East Village club regular, blazed a trail with his large canvases, vibrant colours and animated works before dying from a heroin overdose in 1988, aged 27.
US-based Daniel Arsham, who has had various collaborations with Tiffany, takes his place at the centre of the building with a bronze sculpture that shows shards of gold and crystal jutting out from the temple, hip and thigh. Sculpted in the classical style and standing 12ft tall beside the spiral staircase adorned with rock crystal, this “future relic” connects the old and the new in one riveting sweep.
Overlooking the Manhattan skyline is the late Claude Lalanne’s Pomme de New York, which epitomises the monumentality of the city’s iconic image. Comissioned by Tiffany & Co in 2006, the 800-pound bronze sculpture was orginally displayed as part of a public art exhibition on Park Avenue.
Rashid Johnson, the American artist known for conceptual post-black art, uses different materials at the Landmark for contrasting effects: a fantastical ceiling from which metal “drips” and a private room swathed in pink against which hangs his painting. He employs a range of media in his meditations on race, class and culture, which reflect his search for his African roots.
Multidisciplinary artist Julian Schnabel has various creations on show at Tiffany’s home and accessories floor, from his trademark broken-crockery paintings to limited-edition plates that form part of an installation featuring a tiled table and hand-painted bronze chairs with velvet cushions. The Wall Street Journal reports that these, on loan to Tiffany, are placed next to his Blind Girl paintings.
At 27, Canadian-born Anna Weyant, hailed as the “millennial Botticelli”, was the youngest artist signed by Gagosian, the global network of galleries founded by Larry Gagosian, last May. That month, her Falling Woman fetched US$1.6 million (RM7.12 million) at Sotheby’s auction, US$1 million more than its estimate. She paints mostly young girls and women, evoking “sentimental erotica”, says The New York Times. Tiffany reportedly commissioned Weyant to create a hyperrealistic painting of its latest designs for its pretty blue box.
With 40 artworks making talking points across 10 floors, art certainly wraps up the bejewelled venue. As Arnault puts it, “We are proud to introduce our own art collection. It has been a passion project of mine over the past years. We have either worked directly with artists on some Tiffany-inspired commissions or acquired works that we felt belonged in our Landmark.”
This article first appeared on May 8, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.