Monday, December 1, 2008

A Tiffany Christmas

Here's a nice old book for you, something you might find in Baltimore at The Book Thing.
A Tiffany Christmas, by John Loring was published in 1996. Though not that old, it has become a collectible. This is a collection of over 165 color images of vignettes created in the store, or on location at someone's home. It is an OTT, Over The Top, type of styling a photo, using every bit of Tiffany's merchandise in the shot as possible. It proscribes the go-go 1980's era of conspicuous consumer acquisition, that lasted well into the 1990's as a way of having style. More was definitely more.
The above photo is one of my favorites entitled "A Splendid Dinner." The table is centered around a Tiffany "Pagoda" silver Chinoiserie centerpiece. The flatware is the pattern "Hampton" in gold vermeil, and the dinnerware is "Palmier d'Or" porcelain.
This setting is called "The Glorious Tree." The Charles X rosewood table is set with Tiffany gold and flower spotted "Halcyon" bone china. The flat silver is "English King." The silver service is 19th century Tiffany silver. There is a decanter of rum to spike the tea, and Tiffany sterling silver monkey candleholders.
I chose this selection for its title: "Santa Baby," and these divine chartreuse satin chaises. This is supposed to be the apartment of Eartha Kitt. She and Santa Baby will dine off gadroon-edged Tiffany sterling silver trays set with "American Garden" flat silver and Tiffany "Black Shoulder" handpainted French porcelain.
Here is a theatrical setting worthy of the legendary Mrs. Diana Vreeland, famous for her red Park Avenue apartment. There are not one, but two Christmas trees festooned with Tiffany silver ornaments and red bows. Two giant Tiffany "Christmas Tree" Venetian glass candlesticks stand in for altar candles on the mantel. A Tiffany Chinoiserie urn "Corail" holds red, white, and pink roses.
On pages 36 and 37 Tiffany "English King" flat silver and "Corinthian Column" candlesticks, along with a topiary tree of dried roses by New York designer Valorie Hart and the regal porcelain swan, all suggest that the gift in the blue box will be as glorious as was in Santa's power to buy.
Yes Virginia, I did some styling work for the great John Loring at Tiffany's. While the Tiffany in-house designer John Funt did the brunt of the work, occasionally Mr. Loring called on me to help out.
I can't tell you how fabulous it was to have carte blanche in the stock room, to pick and choose the china and silver and crystal and jewels and knick knacks. The title of this table was: "A Not So Frugal Christmas Eve Repast."
The topiary I made was 36 inches tall. I still have a scar on my hand from a hot glue gun burn I got while doing this. Tiffany's sent over the amazing silver bowl to my studio, with the instructions to fill it with something long lasting and monumental. When I delivered it to the store, I was taken to the stock room, to gather the things for the photo shoot. This table, and several others remained on display in the Fifth Avenue store throughout the holiday season.
The photos in "A Tiffany Christmas" have a vintage feeling and were done by Billy Cunningham, Sal Corbo, and Peter Margonelli. The above photo was taken in my studio by Juris Mardwig before the topiary was delivered.


Renee Finberg said...


i love the mirrored pagoda
and you !!

have a happy day xxxx

Pigtown-Design said...

I'd love love love to find a book like that at the Book Thing. Slim pickin's this weekend, probably because of the holiday!

pve design said...

You never cease to amaze me. Surely your creation was worth that glue gun burn. I love the way you wrote this post. It has such a time and place - when NY was all about more and over the top. Tiffany's is still one of my favorite stores in the world.
I think I have that book.... somewhere!

Jan said...

Love the topiary, but yes the rest is a little OTT :)

Anonymous said...

That looks like an incredible book, but how wonderful that you got to work on it - it sounds like an amazing experience. I want a job that involves taking as much stuff as possible from Tiffanys stockroom!!

Ivy Lane said...

Beautiful images. Love the pagoda! I only saw one "blue box"! Someday, I'll have one of the blue boxes under the tree...hint, hint to my hubby! :)

Beaux Mondes Designs said...

Beautiful table settings! I love OTT! The Pagoda centerpiece is spectacular. The dinnerware is great also. It looks similar to Tiffany's Cirque Chinois pattern which has become one of my favorite patterns after seeing it in Charlotte Moss's latest book. Another inspiring post. Thanks.