Tiffany & Co’s Francesca Amfitheatrof: ‘I have such a strong connection to the sea’
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My personal style signifiers are two silver and plastic wrist tags I wear all the time. I created the design about 20 years ago, initially just for myself. They became trendy in Japan and then launched globally. After that Alessi bought the design but recently gave me the rights back. You click the tag on and that’s it – you have to cut it off or wear it out.
The last thing I bought and loved was a painting from Berlin’s Peres Projects Gallery that I found at a small contemporary art fair in Milan called Miart. It’s by a German artist called David Ostrowski. I’m excited as I’ve since been to Art Miami and saw that there was an exhibition of his work at the Rubell Collection. His art is really about non-painting, taking away rather than adding decoration; he might use newspaper and card, for example, and then rip some of it off. Less is more for Ostrowski, which I believe in. peresprojects.com. rfc.museum
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a family of Mini Beasts, the crazy, furry animal stools made of sheepskin, fur, bronze and leather by the Haas Brothers. They look like cartoon animals, with ebony horns or antennae and cast‑bronze legs and feet. If you had one, you’d want to name it and say hi to it in the morning. Price on request; thehaasbrothers.com
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a green velvet military long coat with a black houndstooth pattern by Haider Ackermann. I love his tailored attitude; he also makes the best skinny leather trousers. When I first launched the Tiffany T collection, I wrote to him, as I felt there was a strong connection with his work. I didn’t hear back from him, but much later we met at a dinner and now we’re friends. There’s a strong synergy with my own aesthetic. £2,310; brownsfashion.com
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Cosme in New York’s Flatiron District, an incredible contemporary Mexican restaurant, the first to be opened by the young Mexican chef Enrique Olvera. The architecture is quite rigorous, the decor serene and calming, in warm, earthy colours. I took a Mexican friend and it got the seal of approval. I ate a corn tortilla with chopped tomatoes and sea urchin. 35 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010 (+1212-913 9659; cosmenyc.com
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Napali coast on Kauai. Geologically it’s the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and the coastline is dramatic and voluptuous; you can feel the mana or spirit there. I went on a trip with my design team as inspiration for our latest Blue Book collection. We worked a lot, but it was stimulating: we learnt to weave hula skirts, picked shells on the beach, hiked, sketched. We rented a house there and it was all organised by the brilliant Diedre Fox, whose husband, Ryan, is a Michelin-starred private chef who cooked amazing breakfasts for us, including caramelised pineapple tart and banana, chocolate and macadamia nut French toast. purekauai.com
An indulgence I would never forgo is rose and violet creams from Charbonnel et Walker. When I’m in London I go to the store on Old Bond Street and stock up. I used to keep them in the fridge until they told me not to as it spoils the chocolate. Now I can’t buy as many as I would like. From £30 for 275g; 28 Old Bond Street, London W1 (020-7318 2075; charbonnel.co.uk)
My favourite websites are BBC.co.uk – now that I live in the US, I miss the UK news – and Vice.com, another great source of current affairs, seen from a different perspective. My father was a foreign correspondent for Time magazine so news has always been an important part of my life.
My style icon is Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, wife of the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. She’s so glamorous, and wears a turban in real Hollywood style like Ava Gardner. She’s also a supporter of great things, particularly education, and I like the way she’s reserved and private.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Marc Tansey, who is represented by Gagosian gallery. He’s an artists’ artist, very important but not that well-known, and not prolific. He paints in single colours, often a particular Biro blue, and his pieces are painterly, dreamy, with a real depth of meaning. 555 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011 (+1212-741 1111; gagosian.com)
A recent “find” is The Elephant’s Trunk, a big open-air flea market held every Sunday in summer near my house in Connecticut. I go each week, give myself a budget of $200 and always find amazing things. I’ve bought chairs, side tables and lamps from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and also some objects for work, as inspiration. American taste can be different to mine so I pick up things that other people don’t spot. 490 Danbury Road, New Milford, CT 06776 (+1860-355 1448; etflea.com)
My favourite room in my house is the drawing room in our new place in Connecticut. It’s like a gallery, with windows on three sides, so it’s very light and open and you can see green all around you outside. I also love it because it’s filled with Gustavian furniture.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose downtown Manhattan, for unusual homewares. I love collecting and am always hunting for pieces, especially at antiques fairs. De Vera has the most incredible and intriguing objects, very rich, such as Venetian glass, ivory carvings and antique jewellery; each piece has an untold story. I love the atmosphere in there: the painted dark wooden floor, the elegant thin black metal window frames and the different cabinets; it’s an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. At Wyeth, I always want to buy everything – it specialises in vintage, mid-20th-century, modernist furniture. For everyday clothes, I go to Totokaelo, which has a beautiful selection of brands, including Kallmeyer and Anntian, each with a sense of freedom and individuality, very conceptual and sculptural, which I find inspiring. And I love Opening Ceremony; last time I went I bought my daughter a Prince T-shirt – when he died we were both devastated. And Ted Muehling is an amazing designer of both jewellery and objects – I believe that beautiful objects make you happy. De Vera, 1 Crosby Street (+1212- 625 0838; deveraobjects.com). Opening Ceremony, 35 Howard Street (+1212-219 2688; openingceremony.com). Ted Muehling, 52 White Street (+1212-431 3825; tedmuehling.com). Totokaelo, 54 Crosby Street (totokaelo.com). Wyeth, 477 Washington Street (+1212-243 3661; wyeth.nyc)
The beauty staple I’m never without is Sisley’s Ecological Compound, a balancing treatment to fight environmental stress. It’s like food for your face. £144 for 125ml; sisley-paris.com
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a book every woman should read. It is a description of Lindbergh’s journey in life, described through shells. It’s very special as I have such a strong connection to the sea; it speaks to my soul. I read a lot – always before I go to sleep, or if I wake up in the middle of the night. It’s a great way to switch off, to step out of yourself.
The people I rely on for personal grooming are my colourists, Marie and Kimberly, at the Marie Robinson Salon in New York. For facials I’m obsessed with Alexandra Soveral, who I see at her small Maida Vale salon in London, or in New York as she visits once every three months to see clients. She does the most fantastic manual lymphatic drainage, which helps me rediscover my cheekbones, and all her products are natural and organic. I highly recommend her face oil, Forever Young, which I buy in London at Dover Street Market. For exercise, Barry’s Bootcamp does the most insane workout – I like to go before work. Alexandra Soveral, 97 Elgin Avenue, London W9 (020-7266 3577; alexandrasoveral.co.uk). Barry’s Bootcamp, barrysbootcamp.com. Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket, London SW1 (020-7518 0680; doverstreetmarket.com). Marie Robinson Salon, 40 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10010 (+212-358 7780; marierobinsonsalon.com).
The last music I downloaded was Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens. I like music you can dance to. Christine is French, her look and performance are pared-down and unassuming, and when she dances it’s like contemporary performance art. christineandthequeens.com
The best gift I’ve given recently was two maple trees and a hammock to my husband, for the garden of our Connecticut house. I found the hammock at Kaufmann Mercantile, which is a great place to shop for men and sells everyday objects based on strong design and functionality. The store has a Swedish feel and I love what it does. 119 Ingraham Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237 (+1855-848 3778; kaufmann-mercantile.com)
And the best one I’ve received recently was some Tony Duquette chairs from my husband for my birthday. They have little bells on them so when you sit they jingle-jangle a bit – totally over-the-top, crazy and very Hollywood. I originally thought they would make great pool chairs but I love them so much I keep them in my drawing room. I only found out afterwards that they’re by Tony Duquette – the store owner contacted me to tell me. R T Facts Antiques, 22 South Main Street, Kent, CT 06757 (rtfacts.com)
In my fridge you’ll always find lemons. There’s nothing more delicious; I love the smell and taste of them. I have lemon in hot water in the mornings, put lemon in my bath and on everything I eat. There’s also always a bottle of good white wine – a glass of Gavi makes me very happy – and Badoit and carrots. And an amazing superfood supplement, D&A. It’s made in limited quantities by a third-generation herbalist in Korea and has a high concentration of royal ginseng from the Korean hills; I find it calming and energising at the same time. I do my shopping at Eataly, downstairs from the Tiffany offices. It’s wonderful to have a proper fishmonger and butcher, unusual in Manhattan. dandabh.com. eataly.com
An object I would never part with is a small portrait of my grandmother by Giò Ponti, painted when they were in their 20s. They were good friends and started Domus magazine together. Ponti wanted to marry her but my great-grandfather didn’t approve; he didn’t think Ponti had prospects. Then she married a Russian musician with long hair and even worse prospects.
If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Rome. I lived there for six years as a child, my mother lives there, and whenever I go back it still feels like home. I have good friends there and I love the feeling of living with history on a daily basis – the atmosphere, the architecture, the restaurants and the small, independent specialist shops that you don’t find anywhere else. At De Clercq & Clercq I find the most elegant woven ties, beautiful scarves and socks; it’s all about coloured stripes there and they also make charming woven hats. For homewares, I make a beeline for Lisa Corti. It’s not easy to find – a tiny little store where I buy all my cushions, place mats, lamps and shades. Corti has her print fabrics made in India and the shop is a perfect mix of luscious Indian colours with European elegance. Pierluigi Ristorante does the best Catalan salad you will ever eat; and the puntarelle, a Roman salad with anchovies, is delicious. Hotel Locarno is an authentic, charming hotel; it has one of the best bars in Rome. It’s also behind Piazza del Popolo, so a perfect location for shopping. De Clercq & Clercq, Via dei Prefetti 10 (+3906-6813 6826; declercqdeclercq.com). Hotel Locarno, Via della Penna 22 (+3906-3610 0841; hotellocarno.com). Lisa Corti, Via dei Coronari 197 (+3906-687 1645; lisacorti.com). Pierluigi Ristorante, Piazza de’ Ricci 144 (+3906-686 8717; pierluigi.it)
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is Quincy, my eight-month-old black German shepherd, who came from England. A friend of mine in the UK has a German shepherd who had puppies and we couldn’t resist him, although we have one other dog.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would have my own radio station. I’d broadcast children’s radio in the morning, while they’re in the car on the way to school, then different music all day and night. I love the radio: it’s such an informative medium, so relevant and with so much freedom. I adore Radio 4 – on one New Year’s Day, when everyone was hungover, they read War and Peace all day.