Friday, 24 June 2016

Crazy About Tiffany’s

A dazzling, decidedly eccentric look at the world-famous jeweller

Written by Jason Solomons
Film-Jul17-JasonSolomons-176The title, Crazy About Tiffany’s, comes, of course, from Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly taking her ballet shoes out of the fridge in Blake Edwards’s classic film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. But this documentary delves deep behind the display cases to discover what makes the world’s leading jewellery brand sparkle on through lunch, dinner and every place in between.

Matthew Miele’s film is as bright and shiny as the diamonds, a movie that examines every facet of the Tiffany allure, beginning with the firm’s 19th-century founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. It traces how Tiffany has somehow cemented itself at the heart of New York and popular culture, from appearances in episodes of Friends to Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby and the Oscars red carpet.

Miele’s film is methodical, ticking the boxes, as it were, and tying little white ribbons around them. We look at the signature Tiffany colour, that robin’s-egg blue, which is now an official Pantone shade.

Beautiful people, rich people, fashion bloggers and stylists sit around saying ‘may-zing’ and ‘gorrjuss’ as they gush over pendants and run their fingers over the Tiffany Blue Book catalogue. Well-dressed women called Fluffy or Muffy or something (that might have been the name of the dog; I couldn’t work it out), who have the job title ‘philanthropist’, recall the hilarious time when, because their adorable daughter couldn’t decide which one to choose, they got two Tiffany rings for Mother’s Day. May-zing.

Of course this is all quite funny, and I’m assuming intentionally so. Again, I wasn’t quite sure. Miele is treading a filigree line here between corporate puff piece and a sterner examination of all that glitters in the great consumer world and the rarified strata of New York’s ‘Ladies Who Lunch’, as Elaine Stritch’s anthem has it.

There is social – well, retail – history here too, particularly when we turn to the famous sunshineyellow Tiffany Diamond, apparently only ever worn by two women: Mrs Sheldon Whitehouse and Audrey Hepburn. We trace its roots, but never do anything quite as vulgar as go down the South African mine in Kimberley whence such stones originate.

Meanwhile, we examine legendary designers such as former model Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso and Jean Schlumberger (or Schloomber-zjay, as they insist on calling her), as well as the oftoverlooked genius of modern window display, Gene Moore.

There are clips from Sweet Home Alabama and Ocean’s Eleven, a segment on the Super Bowl trophy and the Yankees logo – everything is Tiffany. There’s a great sequence in which people ultimately realise the true profession of Audrey Hepburn’s Holly in the movie (a teenage rich girl gasps, ‘She’s a hooker? !’).

And there’s a section dedicated to all the presidents who have bought Tiffany for themselves, their wives or others – including Lincoln, JFK, FDR and even Barack Obama, who gave our dear Queen a Tiffany box for her Diamond Jubilee. And she looks pretty pleased with it too.

Miele puts his film together like a fine necklace, one draped around the exquisite neck of a star like Jessica Biel. By the end, you feel they’d wrap the world up in a little blue box and tie it with a white ribbon if they could. Maybe they should hire the artist Christo.

As entertainment, the film is zippy and dazzling and very good fun; camp and upscale, may-zing and very New York. As Jean Brodie would have said, for those who are crazy about this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing I’m sure they’ll be crazy about.

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