CR Fashion Book: Elsa
By Bernie Rothschild
In her debut issue of CR Fashion Book, Carine Roitfeld made a stunning tribute to the legendary Elsa Peretti with her editorial "Elsa." The editorial itself was inspired by the style of Ms. Peretti during the 1970s as one of the talented scene stealers of that decade. But who is Elsa Peretti really? As we all know, Elsa Peretti is an accomplished woman and one of the world's most renowned jewelry designers. Just recently her long time collaborator Tiffany & Co. paid her the staggering amount of $43 million to buy out her famous open heart necklace design, one of the company's best selling assets. Peretti has worked with Tiffany's since 1974 and has designed some of their most iconic pieces including Carine Roitfeld's favorite scorpion pendant which became a part of her fashion style.
Besides being one of the most prominent jewelry designers, Elsa Peretti has a very interesting and inspiring persona. Elsa was born to a very wealthy family in Florence, Italy, in 1940. She studied in Rome and Switzerland and became a French teacher for a brief period. Bored with her life, she went to Spain to become a model and quickly developed as the favorite of Salvador Dali. Elsa was one of the top models of the swinging 60s. She then went to New York where she shone as a favorite model of the legendary Diana Vreeland who became her mentor and friend.
Elsa Peretti emerged as one of the icons that characterized the glittering 70s. This became her shining moment. Her glamorous presence in the social scene — together with her contemporaries Marina Schiano, Marisa Berenson, Benedetta Barzini, and Loulou de la Falaise — influenced the style of that decade. She was one of the fixtures of the hedonistic Studio 54 where she socialized with the likes of Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.
On top of that, Helmut Newton photographed Elsa for French Vogue wearing a bunny hat by Halston (her best friend) on top of a building in New York and the image became synonymous with the sexual decadence of the 1970s. Proving that she is not just another pretty face or social scene stealer, Ms. Peretti reinvented herself as a jewelry and accessories designer. She is well known in the fashion world as the muse of Halston. She once stated "I had a deep love affair with Halston, without having a love affair." They became close collaborators and Peretti designed Halston's trademark perfume that grew to be the top selling fragrance of all time next to Chanel No. 5. She also designed the famous sterling silver buckle belt on which Tom Ford based his Fall 1996 collection for Gucci as well as jewelry for Giorgio di Sant' Angelo (one of the most famous designers of the 1970s) and Oscar de la Renta.
Peretti's designs are not intimidating and grandiose, instead simplicity and elegance developed as her winning technique and revolutionized jewelry design. The "Elsa" spread in the debut issue of CR Fashion Book is just a perfect definition of how colorful Ms. Peretti's life is but also an interesting intellectual character that made her a success in her game. Long live the Queen of Tiffany's.
More from CR Fashion Book Issue 1: Rebirth
CR Fashion Book: A Woman's Life
By Renee Hernandez
CR Fashion Book: High On Rebellion
By Jessica Eritou
CR Fashion Book: Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry
By Kate Ringo Suzuki
Inside the Pages of CR
By Dara Block
Editorial images © 2012 CR Fashion Book. Elsa Peretti photos courtesy of Condé Nast and elseperretidesign.blogspot.com