Tiffany & Co.'s flagship headquarters in New York recently reopened after undergoing a nearly four-year renovation led by legendary architect Peter Marino. "I was brought in to regenerate and recreate a cheerful, Holly Golightly atmosphere," he said, "not a stern, intimidating one. It used to be dark wood, and now it's white marble."
And, of course, lots of Tiffany Blue, "which is a registered color, this kind of turquoise-y blue, which is wonderful," he said.
The main floor's big design attraction is 14 video screens, each 19 feet tall. Marino said, "It's meant to be amusing and beautiful."
Sanneh said, "With these images in the windows, you do something that most people can't do, which is you control the weather!"
Executive vice president Alexandre Arnault is the son of the richest man on the planet, Bernard Arnault, the founder and CEO of LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods brand. [LVMH bought Tiffany & Co. in 2021 for about $16 billion.] When asked what he wants people to feel when they walk into the new Tiffany's, he replied, "Dazzled."
Alexandre Arnault was born more than 30 years after Tiffany's most famous customer walked in: Holly Golightly, in the 1961 film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Holly: "Do you have anything for $10?"
Sales clerk: "Well, frankly, in that price range the variety of merchandise is limited."
Some things at Tiffany have not changed, even factoring in inflation. Sanneh asked, "Now, to be fair, $10 in 1961 is about $101 now. Do you have anything for $101?"
"We don't have jewelry for $101," Arnault replied. "You can buy perhaps perfume."
Tiffany president and CEO Anthony Ledru says the building, though remodeled, remains the bedrock of the company. "We're here, the epicenter of the island, Manhattan, splitting east and west, north and south," he said.
And it hadn't been renovated since opening in 1940. "I think there was really a responsibility to protect what made the identity of this landmark for 83 years," Ledru said.
The famed Tiffany Diamond, discovered in 1877, which made a cameo in the 1961 film, is still here, behind glass. People can line up to view it. "Yes, it is our Mona Lisa," said Victoria Wirth Reynolds, Tiffany's chief gemologist. "And it has just been reset for the first time in 12 years."
The Tiffany Diamond is not for sale, but just about everything else is.
Reynolds showed Sanneh a ring featuring a 10 carat, D, internally flawless, Type IIa diamond. "This is what love is all about," she said.
"Uh-oh!" said Sanneh. "Now, just roughly speaking, what are we talking about here? New sports car, second home?"
"We're in all of the above," she replied. "This is a ring that you would dream about."
For just such occasions, Marino helped design private rooms high above street level. The building has 10 floors organized by theme, like home design on six, silver on five, and gold on four, which features a giant celestial lighting fixture. "The constellation was done in a window display," he said, "and we reproduced it on a gigundous scale."
"Gigundous? Is this an architectural word?" Sanneh asked.
"Yes. Yes. You have to go to eight years of architecture school to talk like that!"
Finally, there's a penthouse, for times when a private room just isn't private enough. "What we call the VVIP, by invitation only," said Marino.
Up here, you can almost forget that this is a jewelry store. Almost.
Marino said, "You should be relaxed, enjoy yourself, and spend a great deal of time."
"And spend a great deal of something else, too, perhaps?" asked Sanneh.
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Story produced by Mary Raffalli. Editor: Carol Ross.
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