The Distilled Splendor of Elsa Peretti’s Jewelry and Homewares
Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who passed away on March 18, is a constant inspiration to stylist Kate Young’s life and work. “She was incredibly stylish and sexy,” Young says of the visionary artisan. “Something about her was powerful, almost feline. When I look at pictures of her, you can tell that when she walked into a room, everyone noticed. Everyone either wanted to sleep with her, or be her.” Young pays tribute to Peretti on the fourth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, surveying some of the brilliant things Peretti made in her lifetime.
Young begins by discussing Peretti’s famous Bottle necklace, first created for the fashion designer Giorgio di Sant' Angelo, inspired by the vases found in the backs of the era’s chauffeured cars for single flower stems. Next, she explores her work with the fashion designer Halston, for whom Peretti was a muse, friend, and model, as well as a designer. She also details some of Peretti’s inspirations: Work by artist Constantin Brâncuși and architect Antoni Gaudíoften informed her creations.
Young also describes Peretti’s multifaceted design work with Tiffany & Co., including her Fishbowl vessel, terracotta Bone candlestick holders, Open Heart necklace, gold mesh bra, and Bone cuffs. “The bump goes over the [wrist] bone,” Young says of the latter, noting that the wide metal accessory comes in different sizes and is made for a specific hand. “It highlights your anatomy, and metallicizes your body.”
In addition to Peretti’s experiences in the late 1970s Studio 54 scene (“The Bottle [necklaces] were used for drugs, not flowers, which sounds very Elsa,” Young says), Young details her long-standing collaboration with the photographer Hiro. “Those images are some of the reasons I work in fashion,” the stylist says. “When I’d see those ads in Vogue magazine as a child, they just made me ache for beauty.”
A signature sense of pared-down simplicity is the through-line of every Peretti design. It’s the reason, Young notes, why her work is so timeless. “Nothing is extraneous,” Young says. “Everything is honed down to the absolute essential—to the truth.”
Watch new and previous episodes of Kate Young’sYouTube show Hello Fashion at youtube.com/kateyoung.