Refreshing a brand to ‘the T’

Few companies are better at periodically reinvigorating themselves than Tiffany & Co, which has done just that with its new “Give Me the T” campaign starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Anya Taylor-Joy, Eileen Gu and Tiffany’s T1 Collection.

Few companies are better at periodically reinvigorating themselves than Tiffany & Co. The luxe sterling silver and jewelry retailer — whose more than 300 stores worldwide include the 57th Street flagship and boutiques at The Westchester in White Plains and in Greenwich and Westport — has always had classic yet cutting-edge goddesses, and to a lesser extent, gods, to foster its various campaigns, everyone from Lady Gaga to Lupita Nyong’o. 

Recently, the brand announced actresses Tracee Ellis Ross (“Blackish”), who grew up in Greenwich, and Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) as its newest global house ambassadors, along with Chinese-American freestyle skier Eileen Gu. The three made their debut in “Give Me the T,” the moody, black-and-white Tiffany T1 campaign shot by Mario Sorrenti in New York City that features the collection’s elongated, circular T form, diamonds of all cuts and, of course, quality craftsmanship.  

“While the story behind Tiffany T1 remains centered on inner strength and individuality, the breadth of the collection has evolved over the past year to include new bracelet, earrings and pendant styles, as well as new 18k white gold iterations,” the company said in a statement. “In the ‘Give Me the T’ campaign, Taylor-Joy, Gu and Ross layer the new designs with other striking T1 pieces — such as the T1 choker with nearly 250 round brilliant and baguette diamonds totaling over 13 carats — showcasing how the collection creates opportunities for self-expression.”

“Growing up, I would often wander through the flagship store on Fifth Avenue, imagining myself as a grown woman wearing the bold elegance of Tiffany’s signature diamonds,” Ross recalled in a statement. “All these years later, to be the face of this iconic brand and to represent the T1 collection is a dream come true. Shooting the campaign was a welcome moment of inspiration and glamour after the challenging year that we’ve all experienced.”

But then, Tiffany — a 184-year-old company founded by the late Connecticut and Irvington resident Charles Lewis Tiffany — has always been able to read the room. Coming on the heels of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and increasing attacks on Asian-Americans, Tiffany has chosen to celebrate womanhood and in particular women of color. (Though Gu was born in the United States, she competes for China, one of Tiffany’s strongest markets.)

The new campaign comes six months after LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired Tiffany for $15.8 billion in what has been billed as luxury’s biggest deal. Initiated in November 2019, it was plagued by false starts, as LVMH canceled it almost a year later. Tiffany sued LVMH and the French luxury conglomerate in turn countersued, accusing Tiffany of spending millions on shareholder dividends amid pandemic losses. (Some observers considered this a bargaining ploy to lower the acquisition and stock prices from $16.2 billion and $135 per share to $15.8 billion and $131.5 a share, which is where the stock sat at press time.)

Long before the pandemic, however, Tiffany, always a bellwether for luxury brands, faced challenges. In 2016, The Wall Street Journal worried that the election of now former President Donald J. Trump would adversely affect the company’s 57th Street flagship, which accounts for 10% of Tiffany’s business and is near Trump Tower. Perhaps more important for Tiffany was the softening of China’s economy and international tourism’s spending power in 2019.

However, like Holly Golightly, the heroine of Truman Capote’s novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn, Tiffany knows how to bounce. Following the T1 campaign, Taylor-Joy and Gu will star in the “Knot Your Typical City” campaign — also shot in New York by Sorrenti — for a new jewelry collection that Tiffany is set to release in North America this fall and worldwide in 2022. Wearing designs from the new collection, Taylor-Joy, Gu and Alton Mason — the first Black male model to walk the runway for Chanel — will pass through city streets as traditionally blasé New Yorkers offer their approval.

Next year will also see the completion of renovations to the Tiffany flagship, uniting the company’s past, present and future. With new owners and a new look come new personnel. Last month, WWD (Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion trade journal) reported that Tiffany had hired away Nathalie Verdeille, creative director for jewelry at Cartier since 2005, to become its vice president, artistic director of jewelry and high jewelry. 

Jewelry — and its mystique — remain Tiffany’s essence.

“I love jewelry that has symbolism in it,” Anya Taylor-Joy said. “I love it to mean something to me. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything to anybody else, but I like to look down at my fingers and have a story.”

For Tiffany, the story continues.

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