Tiffany & Co. has been around for nearly 180 years, and as Matthew Miele—director of the new documentary Crazy About Tiffany's—points out to mental_floss, it continues to be one of America's most iconic brands. Much like in his 2013 documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, Miele sought to bring the history and cultural relevance of this quintessential luxury brand into focus. "Both Tiffany and Bergdorf's are so cultivated and finely honed with their images, colors, fonts, and ubiquity," Miele says. "Their relevance maintains because they refine their image every week. They are both so attuned to the changing times and shifting attitudes that they always stay 12 steps ahead."
Crazy About Tiffany's—named for Holly Golighty's famously fawning line in the movie that has become synonymous with the store—is out in select theaters and on VOD today.
1. TIFFANY’S OWNS THAT SHADE OF BLUE.
In the 1850s, right around the time Tiffany’s opened its first Paris location, founder Charles Lewis Tiffany foresaw a huge trend and jumped on it early. France’s Empress Eugénie, who was the leading fashion icon of her day, had chosen a shade of light blue as her official color. Tiffany, realizing that hue would soon be an international sensation, immediately made robin’s egg blue its company-wide branding color. The bold, pretty tint became known as Tiffany Blue, and more than a century later, Pantone patented that specific shade for Tiffany’s. The exact formula is a closely guarded secret, but the name—Pantone No. 1837—is a nod to the company’s founding year. "It is a remarkable thing to have trademarked so long ago," Miele says, "and an even greater feat to keep its recipe a secret."
2. CHARLES TIFFANY INVENTED THE MAILED SHOPPING CATALOG.
Think the first mail-order catalog was an old Sears, Roebuck & Co. one? Nope; Tiffany’s Blue Book predates Sears, Roebuck’s Big Book by nearly 50 years. Charles Tiffany started sending out his mailer in 1845, and the book has become a way to advertise the company’s rarest and most exclusive jewels, as well as to introduce new collections in their fashion jewelry and watch lines.
3. ONLY TWO WOMEN HAVE EVER WORN "THE TIFFANY DIAMOND."
In 1878, Charles Tiffany bought an enormous, rough yellow diamond. Once cut into its classic cushion-shape brilliant, the stone weighed in at an impressive 128.54 carats, and his owning it solidified Tiffany’s reputation as the world’s premier jeweler.
The Tiffany Diamond has only been set in new pieces five times, and only worn twice. Once by lucky Newport socialite Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse at a 1957 fundraising ball co-sponsored by Tiffany’s (Mrs. Whitehouse was chairwoman of the event), and the second time by Audrey Hepburn. While doing negotiations with Paramount to film 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s in its flagship store, Tiffany’s was granted a photo shoot with Hepburn modeling a number of jewels—including the Jean Schlumberger-designed Ribbon Rosette necklace. Since then, the stone has been reset in one of Schlumberger's classic Bird on a Rock settings [PDF], and in its current necklace mounting.
4. TIFFANY'S INVENTED THE MODERN ENGAGEMENT RING.
Before the diamond boom of the late 1800s, simple or engraved engagement rings were more common—if a ring was given at all (the Puritans had a practice of giving thimbles, which were considered more practical and didn't give into the vanity of jewelry). When diamonds were used, the bezel setting, which kept the stone low and flat in the hoop (think of a signet ring design) was most popular. Then Charles Tiffany decided to show off the brilliance of his diamonds. In 1886, he raised the diamond off of the ring's hoop, creating the six-prong mounting that is now ubiquitous with solitaire engagement settings.
5. NEW YORK'S GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL HAS THE WORLD'S LARGEST TIFFANY CLOCK.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (Charles's son) was trained in painting and glasswork, and expanded the family business with his much-sought-after lamps, chandeliers, and stained glass, first with his own glassmaking firm and then later as the first Design Director at Tiffany & Co. (The hard-to-please design genius Steve Jobs was such a fan of Louis Tiffany's work that he once took his entire Macintosh team to a Tiffany exhibition for inspiration on how to mass-produce great art.) But some pieces that Tiffany designed were one-of-a-kind, like the enormous clock he made for Grand Central Terminal in 1914. The clock—with its vibrant red and white Roman numerals and blue and yellow sunburst design—still has all of its original gears and parts, is still accurate, and is the largest example of Tiffany's glasswork in the world.
6. TIFFANY'S CREATED THE FAMOUS NEW YORK YANKEES INSIGNIA.
"One of the smallest but most profound details I enjoyed discovering was their design of the most famous insignia in sports," Miele says. He's talking about the interlocking NY that the Yankees have used for a century. Back in 1877, Louis Comfort Tiffany designed and created a silver-plated medal of valor to be given to New York's first police officer injured in the line of duty, and the 'NY' insignia connected the medallion to the pin. One of the Yankees' first team co-owners, William Devery, was also New York City's first Chief of Police, and thus would have been aware of the design. It first appeared on Yankees uniforms in 1909, and has been a staple of the pinstripe look ever since.
7. THE SONG "BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S" DEFINITELY WANTED TO CAPITALIZE ON THE NAME.
Songwriter Todd Pipes and his band Deep Blue Something were very calculated when it came to writing their one big hit. "I thought if I could get that phrase 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' into a song, that people might like it," Pipes says in the film. "It's a weird song. There's almost nothing poetic about it." It worked though. Between the song's catchy melody and its invoking of a beloved movie and brand, not only in the lyrics but in the video (the band all meets for a champagne breakfast in the middle of Fifth Avenue right outside Tiffany's, and near the end, an Audrey Hepburn lookalike gives the group a prolonged glance on her way down the street), this 1995 single was the band's only song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
If there’s ever a place to really enjoy a Danish and a coffee, it’s outside the shining windows of Tiffany’s. Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly knew it in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the iconic film that arguably turned the centuries-old jewelry powerhouse into a household name. But that’s hardly the most impressive accolade on the gem giant’s resume. (Let’s not forget, they own a shade of blue—Pantone No. 1837, to be exact.)
Why exactly is the world so infatuated with Tiffany & Co.? A just-released documentary, Crazy About Tiffany’s, explores the answer to that very question. The company’s storied history is intricately detailed, from inventing the modern-day engagement ring (Tiffany Setting) to sourcing its infamous yellow diamond. A-listers like Fran Leibowitz, Katie Couric—who threw a Tiffany-themed 50th birthday bash—Baz Luhrmann, Jessica Biel and Rachel Zoe also weigh in on what makes patrons swoon over pieces inside those little blue boxes.
Below, check out 10 little-known facts about Tiffany & Co.
1. Charles Lewis Tiffany and John F. Young founded the company in 1837 as Tiffany & Young. It originally began as a stationery and fancy goods store with a $1,000 advance from Tiffany’s father.
2. When the French monarchy was overthrown in 1848, Young purchased a selection of the crown jewels, as well as a jewel-encrusted corset believed to belong to Marie Antoinette.
3. During the Civil War, Tiffany produced thousands of ceremonial swords.
4. The storefront on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan has been the flagship location since 1940.
5. The largest Tiffany clock in the world—about 13 feet in diameter—resides at the top of Grand Central Terminal.
6. They were the first company to create a mail-order catalogue (Blue Book) in 1845.
Tiffany & Co. Documentary Releases Today [Fashion Times] Director of popular fashion documentary Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorfs, Matthew Miele, has directed a new fashion film on fine jewelry brand Tiffany & Co titled Crazy about Tiffany’s that is set to release in select theaters today.
Jesus (in Biblical drama Risen) and Satan (in horror indie The Witch) face off this weekend at the box office. And with Easter just around the corner, too! As always, here's what our reviewers recommend:
Embrace of the Serpent(SR): “Even though Embrace of the Serpent’s sometimes violent and frequently otherworldly journey up a jungle-bounded river can’t help but echo Coppola and Herzog, Guerra pursues his own path in striking fashion.”
Crazy About Tiffany’s(SR): “Tiffany & Co., like Bergdorf Goodman across the street in Manhattan, is an obsession for many and, like that other store, is the subject of a documentary which is by far superior and a whole lot more fun than the director’s previous Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.”
Born in Flames(SR): “The U.S. premiere of the newly restored Born in Flames gives us all an opportunity to reassess this indie classic.”
Snowtime(SR): “The movie, fortunately, doesn’t succumb to the frenetic busyness that drives a lot of animated features… The film’s humor and hijinks are aimed at viewers in the 6-10 age group—dog farts and brain freeze get their share of screen time. But, in the tradition of classic family fare, the story also delivers an unexpectedly sobering life lesson.”
Colliding Dreams(SR): “Delivers an admirably balanced and comprehensive account of its important subject.”
Race: “Serviceable instead of inspired, the movie will perform decently thanks to the magic of Owens' name.”
The Witch: “A drama marketed as a horror movie, The Witch is sober, intelligent and not at all the kind of eerie creepshow its poster suggests. Moviegoers expecting sexy spell-casting rather than history and hysteria will be disappointed.”
Risen: “Handsome and sober, Risen wraps the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in what's essentially a police procedural. It's an interesting take but might be a difficult sell to the faith-based audiences most likely to be interested in the material.”
Forsaken(SR): “The movie is too visually lovely to forsake, but the predictable story and basic plot holes remain unforgiven.”
Rolling Papers(SR): “The first instances of legal purchases of marijuana in this country are seen through a journalistic lens in this very likeable, if a bit too superficial, documentary.”
No movies sufficiently terrible to earn them a spot in the dreaded “ugly” category came out this weekend. Merry Christmas!
Jeweler Tiffany & Co. is making its big screen debut with the release of the first fully authorized documentary about the “international obsession.”
“Crazy About Tiffany’s,” produced by Quixotic Endeavors, provides a look at both the brand’s inner workings and how its blue boxes have pervaded pop culture, from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to the popularization of the engagement ring. For Tiffany, opening its doors to a camera crew may help it capitalize on the aura that already surrounds its company, as consumers get to learn more about the New York-based institution.
Out of the box Two years ago, Tiffany tapped Matthew Miele, director of “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” for a documentary chronicling its history.
The documentary sheds light on how Charles Lewis Tiffany developed the brand following its inception in 1837 and then travel through pivotal moments in its history. Unlike social media followers, for example, audiences of a documentary have a higher tolerance for absorbing information, which gives Mr. Miele plenty of slack when capturing the brand’s lengthy background (see story).
A trailer for the film captures celebrities such as Jessica Biel and Katie Couric talking about their relationship and fixation on the brand. Other scenes show Francesca Amfitheaterof, the first female creative director of the house, developing new styles for the house to push its design aesthetic.
Crazy About Tiffany’s trailer
In January, distributor Gravitas Ventures acquired the film. Rather than limiting the release to theaters, the documentary is also available to rent or purchase via video on demand services such as iTunes, Vimeo, Tugg and Vudu.
At the release, consumers can also purchase a DVD or blu-ray copy.
The Documentary Everyone's Talking About: Crazy About Tiffany's
We’re all about a fashion film, especially when it comes by way of a documentary. Getting to hear firsthand accounts from fixtures in the industry about subjects like legendary designers, editors, and photographers is something that, as Dior and I director Frédéric Tcheng put it, hasn’t been around that long. Thankfully, these types of movies have picked up traction, and we now have another one to add to the watch list: Crazy About Tiffany’s.
The film, released today, chronicles the astounding impact Tiffany’s has had since it was founded in 1837. In the documentary, we get to hear from stylists like Kate Young and Rachel Zoe about the weight (pun intended) that comes with dressing celebrities in the famous jeweler, and we get the story behind choosing that signature robin’s-egg blue.
And of course there are fun snippets from film and television like Sex and the City and Friends highlighting just how special it is to receive that little blue box and the clout that comes with wearing the collection.
On March 11, 1888, during a deadly blizzard, known as The White Hurricane, that gripped the city of New York, Charles Lewis Tiffany and his 600 plus employees were open for business at his Tiffany flagship store. Only a single patron visited the store that day to purchase some silver polish. Was the customer a madman for braving the storm or just another devotee who was “crazy about Tiffany’s?”
Thus begins director Matthew Miele’s authorized documentary of the legendary jewelry company, Tiffany & Co. Miele, who also directed Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, approaches his subject matter as an exploration of the people and events that have shaped Tiffany’s into an iconic brand that captivates its loyal fans.
The film is filled with historical tidbits, such as the origin of the Tiffany blue color that so readily identifies the brand’s highly coveted gift boxes. Charles Tiffany adopted the color in 1853 for his company, after the robin’s egg blue shade became the signature color of the Empress Eugenie of France, who is referred to as the “Grace Kelly of the 19th century.” The Tiffany blue color is now produced by Pantone and is known as Color 1837. The exact formula of the blue hue with green undertones is a closely guarded secret.
Crazy About Tiffany’s features an impressive list of celebrities as well as Tiffany’s executives and associates, who contribute on screen commentary. The actress, Jennifer Tilly, who admits that she has a Tiffany’s obsession, confesses that she has taken roles in less than stellar films to pay off her jewelry bill. Jessica Biel, is shown at an Academy awards jewelry fitting, with her stylist and the Tiffany Design Director, openly gushing about the pieces being offered to her.
Other notable firsts, attributed to Tiffany & Co., include the conception of America’s first mail order catalog in 1845, the Tiffany “Blue Book,” and the creation of the modern engagement ring. Charles Tiffany introduced the diamond ring in the classic Tiffany setting in 1886.
A lengthy portion of the movie is devoted to Audrey Hepburn and her iconic role in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and there are other clips from films such as Sweet Home Alabama and the television shows Friends and Sex and the City. The pop culture references to the role that Tiffany’s has played in designing sports trophies are also entertaining, but ultimately the film is at its best when it sticks to the historical elements, highlighting Tiffany’s role as a rarefied piece of Americana.
“The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
These were the words screenwriter George Axelrod wrote for Holly Golightly to praise Tiffany & Co.’s majestic 5th Avenue store in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. And no sentiment better describes the endorphin-boosting experience when one steps foot into one of their many stores. Director Matthew Miele (SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF GOODMAN) continues his unofficial series, pulling back the curtain on New York’s most iconic institutions with his latest documentary, CRAZY ABOUT TIFFANY’S. Get ready to magpie out on all the sparkle and dazzle.
When you buy a piece of jewelry or a trinket from Tiffany’s, you’re really buying into an aspirational lifestyle that stands for excellence in craftsmanship. They’re selling a story most of us only dream of affording. Perhaps one of the best things director Miele’s film impresses upon its audience is how groundbreaking and innovative Tiffany’s has been. For instance, branding colors may be something very modern, but they were the first ones to do it. That signature shade of robin’s egg blue is held under lock and key. The marketing and concept of the engagement ring was introduced by Charles Tiffany in 1886 (thank you, Charles!). The fine art of window design was pioneered by one of Tiffany’s guys, Gene Moore, who changed the face of modern design. The store and its legacy have also bled into entertainment, showing up in films and shows like SWEET HOME ALABAMA, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, BRIDE WARS, FRIENDS, and of course the aforementioned Audrey Hepburn classic – which itself inspired Deep Blue Something’s pop song “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
The film isn’t just an 87-minute long advertisement for the store, however. Miele isn’t afraid to broach topics like Tiffany’s sky-high prices for their goods. It actually leads to a few really wonderful anecdotes. He doesn’t hide the fact that that most of his gushing interviewees didn’t actually buy their engagement rings from Tiffany’s, but rather on 47th street in the diamond district. He also speaks with a millennial whose thesis project labeled the store “tired” and out of touch with her generation – even as she sports what looks like this Tiffany necklace. However, the story that turns it around is from University of Chicago professor David Jablonski. When he was a kid, he wrote Tiffany’s Chairman Walter Hoving about his wish to give his mother an expensive diamond ring, and was sent gold earrings in return. This brings unexpected humanity to a corporation – a quality we don’t usually associate with the almost-out-of-reach brand.
While Miele hits on many things associated with the store, a few fascinating topics are broached but not totally explored: I was left wanting to learn more about the store’s first-ever female design director, Francesca Amfitheatrof. China’s new economic wealth probably could have been its own documentary. It would also have been interesting to see a more detailed, “fly on the wall” approach to the creation of The Blue Book, but the film simply shows snippets of the jewelers at work and Francesca with the layout.
Despite my tiny wishes not materializing fully, overall this is an absolutely fabulous insight into the charm of Tiffany’s glitz and glamour. Though it might lead to some frustrating online window shopping afterward (now that I can pronounce “Schulmberger,” I feel it’s my god-given right to own a piece), Miele’s film is a beguiling fantasy – and nothing very bad could happen to you while watching it.
Crazy About Tiffany’s: From the director of Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s comes Crazy About Tiffany’s, another documentary about a New York institution that epitomizes luxury. This time, however, director Matthew Miele’s doc digs a little deeper underneath the pristine surfaces — and painstaking efforts at brand management — to reveal the extent by which Tiffany & Co. not only penetrated popular culture but shaped the jewelry industry and even forged ideas of modern courtship. As we learn in Miele’s appropriately well-packaged doc — which opens at the Bloor this weekend — the popularization of the engagement ring was among the many innovations of founder Charles Lewis Tiffany during the company’s first heyday in the 19th century.
Crazy About Tiffany’s also looks into the process by which Tiffany’s turns celebs into models for its envy-inducing wares. The doc follows Jessica Biel and her team as they select just the right bling for the actor’s appearance on the Oscars red carpet. Director Baz Luhrmann — whose 2013 version of The Great Gatsby featured jewels specially made for the film — is among the many luminaries interviewed elsewhere in Miele’s film. Alas, the late Audrey Hepburn was no longer able to provide her insights but her role in the creation of the brand’s allure hardly goes unacknowledged here. The Bloor presents Crazy About Tiffany’s Feb. 19-24 with select screenings slated for March.
Any jewelry lover worth her saltdiamonds has made a trip or two to Tiffany & Co. Since its founding in 1837, the iconic brand has expanded beyond its equally iconic Fifth Avenue flagship address, boasting locations all around the United States and in further-flung locales like Shanghai, Cairo, and Qatar. The jewelry house is being celebrated with Crazy About Tiffany's, a new documentary debuting tomorrow, and to celebrate, we picked the brain of director Matthew Miele, asking for some gems of information that he unearthed while working on the film.
For starters, that famous Tiffany blue? It was trademarked back in the mid-19th century and actually uses yellow as the dominant ingredient when being mixed. The company was also the first to create a mail-order catalog, way back in 1845, and if you're a super customer, you just might get a stone named for you: Morganite, a sweet, rosy pink stone in the beryl family, was worked on by one of the company's preeminent gemologists and and named for client J.P. Morgan. New intermingles with old too—the company purchased a fair amount of the Spanish and French crown jewels in the later half of the 1800s.
That there are movie connections is obvious—show the above still to any woman in the world and chances are she'll know exactly what movie it's from. And while we all associate Audrey Hepburn with the elegant main role in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Miele told us bombshell Marilyn Monroe was actually the first choice for Truman Capote, the man who penned the story. More recently, Reese Witherspoon's character from Sweet Home Alabama was on the receiving end of a super-luxe proposal from a dashing Patrick Dempsey who invited her to pick any ring she wanted from the Tiffany & Co. flagship. Yeah, that was inspired by a true story. (When it comes to engagement rings, the Tiffany setting is a classic that was first introduced in 1886).
Branding is important to Tiffany too. Founder Charles Lewis Tiffany decreed that the smart little blue boxes, recognized the world over, were to be given away only when a purchase was made. Per a 1906 newspaper article, "Tiffany has one thing in stock that you cannot buy off him, for as much money as you may offer, he will only give it to you. And that is one of his boxes." The company has also been loyal to the carriers of its ads. While combing through background information, Miele learned that the jewelry giant has advertised every day in The New York Times since the late '20s—and always on page three.
The interior of Tiffany's Manhattan flagship
Tiffany's Manhattan flagship, circa 1940
For more interesting facts and interviews with celebrity and fashion fans, plan on watching. The flick is being released across on-demand platforms, as well as in select cities around the country (major areas like San Francisco and Dallas, but also smaller spots in Ohio and Maine). Click here to see if there's a screening near you.