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Elsa Peretti

OMRI OMM
Born (1940-05-01)1 May 1940
Died 18 March 2021(2021-03-18) (aged 80)
Sant Martí Vell, Spain
Education Interior designer (degree obtained in Rome, Italy)
Occupation Jewelry designer, philanthropist, and fashion model

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 included 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 popular work, 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 pages of images 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.

The TV miniseries Halston features Elsa's relationship with Halston. In 2019, she was featured in archival footage about her relationship with the legendary designer in the documentary film Halston.

Philanthropy

In 2000, Peretti created a 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 programs, particular those targeting poverty. Over time, the foundation's scope has expanded to support a broad range of projects for "promotion of human and civil rights, with a special emphasis on the right to education, children's 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 supports medical and scientific research projects as well as building hospitals and other facilities.

Personal life

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.

Awards

Recognition

  • American Fashion Critics Coty award, 1971: Peretti wins a special award, for her jewelry.
  • President's Fellow award, Rhode Island School of Design, 1981
  • The Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College, 1982
  • Fashion Group "Night of the Stars" award, 1986
  • Cultured Pearl Industry award, 1987
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America's Accessories Designer of the Year, 1996
  • Elsa Peretti Professorship In Jewelry Design: In 2001, Tiffany & Co. established the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design. For the 25th anniversary of its collaboration with Peretti, Tiffany & Co. created a perpetual fund for faculty salary support in the Jewelry Design Department of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). At Peretti's request, the endowment honors her work with Samuel Beizer, founding chairman of FIT's Jewelry Design Department.
  • 2013: The National Prize of Culture by the Catalan Government, which is awarded annually to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves for their outstanding contribution in their respective cultural areas.
  • 2015: Guardó JORGC (Col·legi Oficial de Joiers, d'Orfebres, de Rellotgers i de Gemmòlegs de Catalunya) en reconeixement a la trajectòria global

Honors

Permanent collections

  • British Museum: In 2009 the British Museum acquired 30 of Peretti's creations for its 20th century collection. The museum describes Peretti's capacity to produce objects, which come from different parts of the world as unique, noting that they combine "superb craftsmanship and symbolic meaning in a modern age".
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
  • Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas

Exhibitions

  • Fifteen of My Fifty with Tiffany, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 1990
  • Retrospective, Tiffany's stores worldwide, 2001

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