BEVERLY HILLS — Celebrating the premiere of his collaboration with Tiffany & Co., Frank Gehry transformed Rodeo Drive into one of his iconic environments Sunday night, complete with undulating wooden furniture, monumental cardboard walls and paper “clouds” suspended above the whole scene.
The requisite movie stars — Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Mira Sorvino, Felicity Huffman — milled about among the likes of Ed Moses, Quincy Jones and Carine Roitfeld. As she ogled the jewelry, displayed on live models posed inside lit window boxes, Roitfeld chirped, “I flew here just for this. He’s an amazing talent and with quite a sense of humor, no?”
Gehry’s collection, which will be on display in the Rodeo Drive Tiffany through April 10 before traveling for its launch at the New York flagship, comprises six groups based on architecture, movement and nature: Torque, Fish, Axis, Fold, Equus and Orchid. The 300-piece collection, including jewelry, a selection of tabletop items and one-of-a-kind signed pieces, ranges from an opening price of $140 for a sterling silver fish pendant on a black cord to $750,000 for a one-of-a-kind gold mesh, keshi pearl and rough diamond collar necklace worn by Huston on Sunday night.
Speaking a few days earlier in the Rodeo Drive store’s conference room, Gehry said: “It’s wild. It takes seven years from the day you are hired for a building to realize it. Jewelry is like instant gratification and I need that. And it’s fun. It gives you a vector and keeps your mind going.”
At 77, he still possesses a razor-sharp wit and an endless well of ideas.
“See that purple vase over there?” Gehry asked, pointing to a mass of undulating glass, part of the tabletop collection. “Some of the shapes in it are coming into my buildings. There’s a kickback effect. It keeps me in the game.”
The materials for the sleek, modern jewelry pieces range from sterling silver and 18-karat gold to agate, opal, rutilated quartz and several types of exotic woods.
“There are nine designers working with me and they bring me things. It’s like a candy store. Metal I would have thought of, but opal or quartz I wouldn’t have,” said Gehry.
This story first appeared in the March 28, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tiffany plans to add onto the debut collection in September and update it every six months thereafter. “The beauty of this relationship is his prolific nature and his excitement about it. The opportunities are endless,” said Tiffany’s senior vice president of merchandising Jon King, who declined to give a sales estimate, but said the collection had the potential to eclipse the $300-million-a-year Elsa Peretti line. That was the last artist collaboration for the house and began about 25 years ago.
And clearly as Tiffany grows the Gehry collection, there is no problem with the supply of ideas for new pieces.
“We need to cut him off at a certain point,” said King. “When we sit with him, he has so many ideas that after a couple of hours we have to say, ‘Go home! Enough! Let us chew and swallow and explore this further.'”
Some of the ideas Gehry has already executed for future collections include arranging diamonds and stones within the outlines of his architectural floor plans for items like a brooch, and forming sculptural pieces from strips of sterling silver that look as though they are springing up from a jack-in-the-box.
“He always had this artistic interest and painterly curiosity and the limitations in executing that in monumental buildings has been frustrating for him. It’s been fun for him to work in this scale and execute his ideas for women,” said King, adding that a men’s collection is in the works.