It’s 9am in New York when Francesca Amfitheatrof logs onto Zoom to speak to me about Louis Vuitton’s new high jewellery collection, Stellar Times. She sits in the living room of her Brooklyn apartment, which she shares with her husband, who accidentally walks into frame during our interview, and their two children, who are nowhere to be seen. “Last night was a full moon,” she tells me. “I really feel its energy.”
Expressive and quick-witted, there’s no doubting Amfitheatrof’s a Gemini. “I always make the time to read my horoscope,” she says, adding that she has struggled to adjust to the pandemic’s ‘new normal’. “I miss going to museums, to the cinema, to the theatre and to concerts."
As artistic director for jewellery and watches at Louis Vuitton, Amfitheatrof is in charge of creating new jewellery collections and oversees the house’s watch designs. The daughter of a Russian journalist and an Italian publicist who worked for Valentino, she attended boarding school in England, which gives a backstory to her plummy British accent. Amfitheatrof studied at Central Saint Martins before receiving her Masters in silversmithing at the Royal College of Art. Her weekends were spent partying with the Young British Artists (YBAs), London’s artistic in-crowd that includes Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. In fact, Amfitheatrof’s first show was at Jay Jopling’s White Cube Gallery in the early 1990s.
She was later commissioned by Chanel, Fendi and Marni, among others, before launching the London-based art agency RS&A. In 2013, she was appointed design director at Tiffany & Co., which is where she worked until 2017 as the brand’s first female creative lead.
Stellar Times is Amfitheatrof’s second high jewellery collection since she joined Louis Vuitton in 2018. Her first, Riders of the Knights, was unveiled in extraordinary fashion at a baroque castle north of Prague. “It was so incredible. Prague is so romantic,” she says, adding that she “wanted to do something different” when designing Stellar Times.