TIFFANY’S HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
The holiday season generates boundless joy, mixed with memories and highlighted by the cherished traditions that have evolved over the 178-year history of Tiffany & Co.
In New York City, at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street, the corner made famous by Tiffany’s flagship store, designers prepare for the annual unveiling of windows that marks the start of the gift-giving season. As the ultimate showcase for Tiffany’s brilliant creations, these storied windows are an open invitation to enter a magical world that may depict fables, fantasies, a holiday in New York or families gathered around the tree.
Charles Tiffany, who founded the company in 1837, set this legacy of wonder in motion. As New York’s first jeweler, he is forever linked to the city’s rise as an international capital of glamour and sophistication—and to America’s first wealthy class. The founding families of American industry, including Astor, Morgan and Vanderbilt, purchased not only Mr. Tiffany’s exquisite diamonds, but also the solid gold and silver flatware, elaborate tea and coffee services, candelabra, crystal and china for their holiday dinners and balls.
Tiffany has captured this period known as the Gilded Age in holiday windows that recreated a streetscape of 19th-century New York City town houses beneath a star-filled sky. Silhouettes in the houses’ windows depicted an elegant dinner, couples dancing and exchanging gifts wrapped in Tiffany Blue, and children playing with their new toys.
These enchanting scenarios met the standard of creativity that was set by Gene Moore (1910–1998), Tiffany’s legendary window designer. Tiffany’s windows were tailor-made for his artistry, as the world saw when the curtain went up on his brilliant 40-year run, beginning in 1955. Moore’s experience designing sets and costumes for ballets and the theatre, along with a talent to amuse and wryly comment on art and culture, culminated in a visual feast of wit and fascination. He partnered with the finest craftsmen and renowned artists of the 1950s.
New Yorkers of the time knew to expect the unexpected from Moore’s holiday windows: an orchestra of gold and enameled animals, champagne glasses balanced on a reindeer’s antlers, a snowman made of popcorn and Santa fishing for Jean Schlumberger’s sea-inspired brooches. Moore mastered the traditional, as well: Santa’s helpers building a toy horse, houses of real gingerbread peopled by painted wooden dolls, and rustic scenes of villagers bringing home the tree in a horse-drawn wagon. Moore’s archive is today housed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
For 2015, Tiffany’s windows reveal a heritage of luxury amid wintry scenes inspired by miniature theatres of the 19th century. An ornate proscenium arch frames a fairy tale landscape in a palette of Tiffany Blue and winter white. A palace covered in snow, pavilions and grand staircases sparkle with jewels; and a sleigh worthy of a queen glides deep into the forest, where a great white stag reigns, surrounded by fir trees laden with treasures.
In addition, a dazzling lightshow will overlay the façade of the Fifth Avenue store. The illuminated spectacle is inspired by the fireworks display created for the Tiffany Diamond at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The display’s four reproductions (each 106 feet in height) feature a yellow center stone that replicates the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond.
This pageantry extends to Tiffany’s public celebrations around the world. For several years, Tiffany has transformed the promenade and courtyard at Hong Kong’s 1881 Heritage into a winter wonderland, with falling snow, light projections of the New York City skyline and performances by the children’s choir of the Little School of Music, which Tiffany supports through the Hope Education Foundation. In 2010, Tiffany designed the holiday tree in Milan’s Piazza Duomo. At the tree’s base, the jeweler built a spacious boutique inspired by the Tiffany Blue Box®.
Tiffany tree lighting ceremonies benefit charities worldwide. Trees as tall as 40 feet have graced public squares and plazas in Hong Kong, to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation; Mexico City, for the Gilberto Association, which provides educational opportunities and housing assistance; and London, where Tiffany has sponsored Somerset House Ice Rink. The trees are bedecked with ornaments inspired by family heirlooms, bells and icicles, with Tiffany Blue Boxes nestled among the branches.
The trees’ majestic size and colorful decorations beckon everyone to experience the joys of giving in the great tradition of Tiffany & Co.
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