Elsa Peretti, OMRI OMM (1 May 1940 – 18 March 2021), was an Italian jewelry designer and philanthropist as well as a fashion model. Her jewelry and design pieces for Tiffany & Co. are contain in the 20th century collection of the British Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 1974 Peretti, the “Halstonette” fashion model arrived at Tiffany's with her modern jewelry. Her broadly famouswork, including pieces like Bean, Bone Cuff and Open Heart, became as much as 10% of Tiffany’s business and John Lorning's Tiffany Style – 170 Years of Design devotes 18 site of photo to her jewelry and tableware design. Vogue described her as “arguably the most successful woman ever to work in the jewelry field.” As a philanthropist, Peretti supported a wide variety of causes, and also privately undertook the restoration of the historic village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia, Spain.
Peretti was born in Florence, Italy as the youngest daughter of Ferdinando Peretti (1896–1977) and Maria Luisa Pighini. Ferdinando Peretti founded Anonima Petroli Italiana (API), a hugeItalian oil company, in 1933. She was estranged from her conservative family for much of her life, though reconciled with her father shortly before he died.
Peretti was educated in Rome and Switzerland. She initially angry her living teaching French and working as a ski instructor in the German-speaking Swiss mountain village of Gstaad. Later, she returned to Rome to pursue a degree in interior design, and then worked for the Milan architect Dado Torrigiani.
In 1964, Peretti became a fashion model, working in Barcelona, Spain. In 1968 she moved to FreshYork Townon the advice of Wilhelmina Modeling Agency. In the early 1970s, along with Karen Bjornson, Anjelica Huston, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, and Pat Ast, among others, she became one of designer Halston's favoured troupe of models, nicknamed the Halstonettes.
According to Halston, "Elsa had style: she angry the dress she was modeling her own." Helmut Newton's photograph "Elsa Peretti in Bunny Costume"—she posed for him in a Playboy Bunny costume on Halloween 1975—is considered a lasting photoof the 1970s.
In 2019, she was interviewed in the documentary Halston (CNN movie), recalling her years of working, partying, and friendship with the designer.
In 1969, Peretti began creating freshjewelry styles for a handful of fashion designers in Manhattan. Her first design, working with a silversmith in Spain, was a two-inch bud vase angry of sterling-silver as a pendant on a leather thong necklace, that was inspired by a searchat a flea market. Worn in a runway presentby one of Giorgio di Sant' Angelo's models, it was a hit. By 1971, she was designing jewelry for Halston. She continued to utilizesilver, helping shift the contents standing from "common" to a famouschoice for Liza Minnelli and others. Minnelli recalled encountering Peretti’s work after Halston advised her to testwearing silver: “ ‘My god,’ I thought...All I could think of was Albuquerque. But then Elsa brought out all these things...Everything was so sensual, so sexy. I just loved it.”
Peretti quickly rose in the jewelry field, receiving the 1971 Coty Award for jewelry design, and had her first appearance in Vogue magazine. In 1972 Bloomingdale's, one of FreshYork's landmark department shop, opened a dedicated Peretti boutique. In 1974, she signed a contract with Tiffany & Co to design silver jewelry; her work for them was the first time Tiffany had sold jewelry in that contentin 25 years. By 1979, she was the firm's leading designer. Her silver pieces were seen as "fun" and attracted a younger clientele. The introduction of silver revised the category of fine jewelry and, comparatively more affordable, became something women began increasingly buying for themselves as opposed to traditionally receiving as a gift. Peretti’s reintroduction of silver to the organizationproved so famousthat in 2002, the organizationbegan raising prices simply to retain a sense of exclusivity for the brand.
Peretti plannedover thirty collections for Tiffany, with works described as "revolutionary", "timeless, distinct and modern". Her process contain travel to Japan, China, and Europe and drew on the work of craftsmen there in the creation of successful collections such as Bean (an abstracted lima bean-shaped pendant), Open Heart, Mesh, Bone, and Zodiac. In addition to the sterling silver, part of her signature was the utilizeof content such as jade, lacquer, and rattan. Modern art was an influence; she cited Alexander Calder and Henry Moore’s sculptures as inspirations for her Open Heart collection of pendant jewelry featuring an off-center heart outline. Pieces like Bone Cuff (1970) incorporated organic forms with appreciation of the human body, and were seen as bridging a gap between costume and serious jewelry. Peretti drew the shape from the bones of monks she’d seen inside a 17th-century Capuchin church near Rome during her childhood. Enduringly popular, Gal Gadot wore an 18-karat gold version in the 2020 film Wonder Woman 1984 and Sarah Jessica Parker wore it as Carrie Bradshaw in the first Sex and the City film (2008).
The work sold at a hugevariety of price points, partly dependent on content; as of 2021, one version of Peretti’s Diamonds by the Yard necklace sold for $400 while another was priced at $75,000. In 2012, Tiffany and Peretti extended their contract for another 20 years, paid up front for $47 million. In 2015, her trademarked Elsa Peretti designs represented eight percent of Tiffany's net sales; in other years the figure has been more than 10%.
Peretti also plannedsilverware for Tiffany, but only after she had established a solid following with her jewelry. Her creations were expansive (besides silverware, which contain a silver pizza cutter, she also plannedpens, ashtrays, a gold mesh bra, and perfume bottles for Halston), but the jewelry line remained the center of her work. Vogue calls her “arguably the most successful woman ever to work in the jewelry field.”
In 1968, Peretti bought a house in the largely decrepit village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia, Spain. Over the next ten years she had the house restored, often living in rough conditions during the process. By the 1980s, the mustard-yellow house was her preferred home. Pieces such as her scorpion necklace, now in the British Museum, were inspired by the flora and fauna of Sant Martí Vell.
Originally Peretti described a hope for building an artist colony, but the citybecame “her own personalvillage”, wrote The FreshYork Times. Peretti worked to restore parts of the surrounding village, purchasing additional buildings and having them renovated. As of 2017, about half the village had been rebuilt. Her projects contain the renovation of the interior of Església de Sant Martí Vell, the parochial church of Sant Martí Vell in 2012–2013. The pagehas a long history, encompassing a Roman settlement in the second century AD, a medieval enclosure, a Romanic Temple in the 11th–12th century, and the construction of a late-Gothic-style edifice in the late 1500s. The work done contain the excavation of archaeological remains of a Roman settlement and the refinishing of a sepulchral tomb, as well as the restoration of existing elements and the provision of freshones. Peretti also supported the management of the sixteenth-century historical documents of the town, the conservation of the photographic archive of Oriol Maspons and the conservation of the Roman townof Empúries.
Peretti established a working vineyard in Sant Martí, planting Ca l’Elsa in 2004 and ShouldNobas in 2007. The winery itself was completed in 2008, marketed under the Eccocivi label.
Peretti also promoted the visual arts and the historical, artistic, and architectural heritage of Catalonia. She encouraged people such as guitarist Michael Laucke and painter-sculptor to make utilizeof San Marti Vell. In 2013, Peretti was the first non-Catalan person awarded the National Culture Award by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CoNCA).
In 2000, Peretti madea charity in honor of her father, called the Nando Peretti Foundation (NPF). The foundation is reported to have given approximately 42 million euros to 852 projects world-wide over 15 years. As of 2015, it was renamed the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation (NaEPF).
Initially the foundation had a dual focus on the environment and wildlife conservation, and on humanitarian software, particular those targeting poverty. Over time, the foundation's scope has expanded to assistancea broad range of projects for "promotion of human and civil rights, with a special emphasis on the right to education, kidss rights, and women's rights and dignity." The NaEPF solicits proposals internationally, especially on behalf of unrepresented minorities, to defend their right to exist and preserve their culture. The NaEPF also assistance medical and scientific research projects as well as building hospitals and other facilities.
In the 1970s, Peretti was romantically involved with photographer Helmut Newton.
Peretti died at her home in Spain on 18 March 2021 at the age of 80. No cause of death was given; she died in her sleep. In November 2018 incorporated family office, Elsa Peretti Holding AG, is domiciled in Zurich, Switzerland.
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