Cover Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.

Executive Editor Pakkee Tan jets into London for a star-studded evening at the Saatchi Gallery

When Tiffany & Co throws a party, you RSVP: yes. That’s precisely what I did when the famed American jeweller extended an invitation to Tatler to attend its breathtakingly-researched Vision & Virtuosity brand exhibition launch at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Featuring over 400 items from the Tiffany archives, the exhibition promised to be a deep dive into the “the breadth of the American jewellery brand’s astonishing innovations since its founding,” as we reported earlier this month, and—it did not disappoint.

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It was one of those gorgeous English summer days as we headed to the venue for the media preview, just a day before the big blowout. Sweeping into the grounds of the gallery, a handsome classical Georgian heritage building formerly used by the military, with its soaring columns and spacious double height galleries, I was immediately struck by a new addition on the grounds: a towering Daniel Arsham sculpture in his signature ‘Bronze Eroded’ style. I was later told that the sculpture—called Eroded Venus of Arles (2022)—would be moved to the American jeweller’s NYC Fifth Avenue flagship (currently under renovation), where it would be on display for the foreseeable future.

Unsurprisingly, the eye-catching statue was an instant hit with influencers and models at the media preview (Caroline Daur, Georgia Fowler and Sarah Ellen were among some of those we spied copping selfies and photo ops) and celebrities who attended the opening party the next day.

Moving into the gallery, I was struck by the transformation to the space—an almost-ceiling-height screen displaying the poster of the Vision & Virtuosity exhibition—and was instantly drawn into the first of the exhibition rooms, dedicated to Tiffany & Co’s witty window displays, by the oohs and ahs of the group ahead of ours.

Peering over the shoulders of a clutch of press and influencers, I could see the dramatically-lit displays, each with a visually arresting diorama that showcased some of the house’s most magnificent pieces. Schlumberger’s Bird on a Rock? Set in a silhouetted London skyline with the theme, Blue Moon. The Snowflake Clip? Bursting out of a specially-designed headpiece by milliner Stephen Jones in another case, titled Spring Bonnet à la Tiffany. A stunning necklace (first designed under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany) featuring a Montana sapphire? Clock it in the display dedicated to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

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One of my personal favourites would have to be Whodunit, a masterpiece from 2016 that was “inspired by a classic mystery narrative”. Featuring a bird’s eye view of the brand’s NYC Fifth Avenue flagship store, the central vault opens and closes in turn, presenting and hiding the equally-ingenious, Donald Claflin-designed Question Mark Brooch, in the vein of a classic diamond heist.

With almost 20 displays, each with its own singular talking point, I spent a good part of half an hour just drifting from case to case, taking in the ingeniousness of the brand’s window displays that have combined jewellery and advertising and turned it into an art form.

Further on, the rooms presented a concise history of the 185-year-old American jeweller: from its deep involvement in pop culture (did you know the house has been tapped to design and create sporting trophies throughout its history?); dressing important celebrities and figures in fashion (Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Diana Vreeland, André Leon Talley, to name a few); and its star designers (Jean Schlumberger, Paloma Picasso and Elsa Peretti). A veritable buffet of paraphernalia and objects that hold significance to the house have been meticulously grouped in (what I think is) chronological order, and I found each piece jockeying for attention to present some new nugget of information about the house. Overwhelming? Maybe just a tad so.

Ascending the stairs to the second level of the exhibition, I then passed through a room with Charles Lewis Tiffany’s famous maxim emblazoned on the wall: “Beautiful design makes a beautiful life.” Fitting, then, that the room was dedicated to the American jeweller’s ties to haute joaillerie—its Blue Book collections—and included early examples of its exceptional craftsmanship and relentless quest for the best stones in the world. One interesting interior design element that caught my eye was the inclusion of some truly remarkable Tiffany lamps, which I am told may be making their comeback in the near future.

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Travelling on, one of the most interactive—and dare I say, fun—rooms in the entire exhibition was, appropriately, dedicated to Love & Engagement. Bathed in a dreamy blue, the room showed off Tiffany’s innovations in the engagement ring arena, from its iconic six-prong setting to the latest Charles Tiffany Setting intended for gentlemen (and which I was told has rocketed to become one of the house’s most popular styles since its introduction last year). The highlight of the room includes a wall where you can write love notes and send them drifting across the room-length screens, something that the international crowd at the exhibition used to full effect, writing ‘love’ in multiple different languages.

Of course, what’s Tiffany & Co without one of its most defining pop culture moments? Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn, has indelibly left its mark on the world (it’s the movie that has spawned a million costumes—anyone remember that Audrey Hepburn party in Big Little Lies?), so it would be remiss if the brand skipped out on it.

Enshrined in its own display, the original Hubert de Givenchy-designed LBD is the first thing you see walking into the room, then you take in the two Oscars that the film won, and then the original typescript, the film montage explaining how Tiffany came to be involved in the film, and finally, the NYC cab replica (with its own traffic light!) for a photo op (catnip for the influencers and celebrities). If you’re a fan of the film like yours truly, it’s definitely an experience to be relished.

A hop and a skip away, two singular examples of the American jewellery house’s myth making are further on display: the Tiffany Diamond (a 128.54-carat yellow diamond whopper) and the Empire Diamond (an over 80-carat D flawless oval-shaped diamond, newly set in a necklace design inspired by one originally designed for the 1939 World’s Fair). For the regular plebeian (read: if you’re not Beyoncé, Lady Gaga or Audrey Hepburn), you can now try on the Tiffany Diamond necklace via AR at a booth just off to the side of the room, where a helpful assistant will walk you through the steps.

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The next night, I was whisked back to the Saatchi Gallery—in a fetching tone-on-tone fuschia look (that I joked was inspired by Elle Woods)—and walked the Tiffany Blue carpet, camping out at the photo wall to snap celebrities making their entrance. In Rosé Park’s case, I could literally hear the deafening screams of fans outside the venue before she even set a well-heeled foot on the carpet—all par for the course for a K-pop star of her stature.

Among the cute moments that I witnessed: Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan (looking absolutely chic in a black-and-white outfit) embracing a gold-bedecked Florence Pugh, followed by a reunion at the step and repeat with her fellow Bridgerton co-star Simone Ashley just mere minutes after. A mysteriously striking Japanese star—I later found out her name was Ayaka Miyoshi—commanded the attention of the photographer pit with her poise, and Gal Gadot turned a few heads when she strutted into the space in a leg-baring cocktail dress in a brand ambassadress-appropriate shade of robin egg blue.

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Following a hearty dinner of cheeseburgers, fried chicken bites, Reuben sandwiches and beet carpaccio in a space transformed to look like an American diner (complete with caricatures of the house’s friends on the walls), guests were ushered into a dark space where one last surprise lay in store: Mark Ronson was waiting to drop some beats for the invite-only after-party.

Ronson did not disappoint, throwing out crowd-pleasing hits such as JLo’s Get Right, Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body, Blondie’s Heart of Glass and, get this, ABBA’s Dancing Queen (this really got the crowd going). Modelesque waiters circulated with magnums of champagne ready to refill empty glasses, margarita popsicles (that disappeared as soon as they emerged), and, at midnight, luxurious sundaes to end the night on a sweet note.

185 years old? Going by the Vision & Virtuosity bash, Tiffany & Co is just about to get the party started.

The exhibition runs until August 17, 2022. Tickets will be available beginning May 2, 2022 on the Tiffany & Co. Exhibition app, available on the iOS and Google Play app stores, or at the exhibition.

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