Monday, February 18, 2013

The Exciting Evolution of Paloma Picasso

We were mesmerized by her fantastic gold squiggle pins. And we all loved and were addicted to her dazzling chunky rings and pendants. Now, as all the best designers must, Paloma Picasso is taking an enchanting new approach—capturing a vivid new world of inspiration.

Come and see her new styles, and read about her inspirations, her childhood, the Picasso legacy, and her elegant new jewelry designs for Tiffany.

These arabesques of gold, and shimmer of stones, are delicious and lovely.

This week I’m celebrating Paloma Picasso’s many creative years with Tiffany & Co—and showing you her newest designs inspired by her life in Morocco.

Like many artists and designers before her, Paloma Picasso who lives in Lausanne, acquired a house in Marrakech, and was soon captivated and enthralled by the architecture, history, sculptural traditions, colors and motifs of Morocco.

To learn more about this fascinating designer, I have transcribed a recent interview with Paloma including her insights into her creative process, and how her designs have evolved and developed over the years.

But first I’m going to let you in on a guilty secret about Paloma Picasso.

Some years ago, Paloma Picasso was visiting San Francisco to introduce a new jewelry collection at Tiffany. It was an incredibly beautiful collection—introducing vivid large semi-precious stones in bold silhouettes. There were parties and celebrations, and the designs were a huge success.

I was writing a big profile on Paloma’s launch for a major fashion publication.

We met at the glamorous Nob Hill hotel where she was staying, Earl Grey tea was poured, little tea sandwiches and macaroons were served, and we chatted.

Paloma Picasso is a vibrant, engaging and highly articulate women, talking a mile a minute in her throaty voice.

She’s petite and intense, and laughs with gusto. An engaging conversationalist, she’s at ease.

Finally it was time to focus on my interview, a discussion about her new design directions, her inspirations, her memories of her father, and insider secrets of growing up Picasso.

I placed my new recorder on the table in front of us, and sketched a few brief notes as we discussed the bold designs she prefers, the evolution of her collectiona, her decades’ of collaboration with Tiffany, and at the end some chat about Pablo , traveling the world to promote her jewelry, fashion, partying with her friend Yves Saint Laurent, and growing up in the South of France, her lovely mother, Francoise Gilot, living in Switzerland and Morocco.

Suddenly the time was up, and I thanked her and soon departed.

But, no. My recorder did not operate. There was nothing on the tape. Just a silent hiss. This coveted and vibrant interview did not exist. I wrote the story and gathered the text from scribbled notes and from memory—to this day chagrined.

So now I have another opportunity—I’ve transcribed some recent video interviews Paloma made to explain her new work and designs. Come with me to meet Paloma Picasso today.

Paloma Picasso Childhood

“I spent my first years In the South of France. I grew up in a very special environment because both my father and my mother were painters and artists and they were very much in the forefront of artistic life--so it was a great, fun environment to grow up in .”

“I always thought that in life, you breathe, you eat, you go to sleep at night and you draw.”

“I was spending a lot of time drawing myself, but as I grew up I started feeling the weight of my heritage. By the time I was 14, I completely froze. I couldn’t draw any longer. Because of course, people were always saying to me and my brother, “so you’re going to become painters like your parents!” And I thought “oh, no--not that!”

“But it happened anyway. I didn’t become a painter, but I certainly kept on drawing.”

“But as a child I was always interested in jewelry. If you see pictures of me as a child you will often see me wearing a piece of jewelry which was quite, not typical of most little girls, but it was always a focus of mine.”

“When I got a little bit older, I started buying pieces myself, going to the flea market buying beads, stringing them in a special way for myself.”

“One day a friend of mine told me that she was going to join a school to learn to make jewelry. I thought, well that’s always been my interest. And by then I’d even made a special piece of jewelry for a play—the equivalent of Broadway in France. I thought, well if people are already talking about my jewelry, I’d better learn how to make it.”

My lovely readers who’ve followed THE STYLE SALONISTE from the start will recall a story I wrote about ‘CHASING PICASSO IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE’…about my visit to the Chateau de Vauvenargues near Aix, where Paloma grew up. (You can look up the story in the blog archive—over on the right hand column. You’ll like it. It’s one of my favorites.)

As it happened, during the chateau visit I watch some old Picasso family films, taken when Paloma was a teenager, and there she was with her father, her brother, and the family’s menagerie. Most charming.

After her father’s death in 1973, she took a hiatus from designing jewelry to catalogue the artist’s estate and help establish the Musée Picasso in Paris. In 1979, then-Tiffany Design Director John Loring invited Paloma to present a table setting for one of Tiffany’s exhibitions. A year later, Tiffany introduced Paloma Picasso’s first exclusive collection of jewelry, which was instantly embraced for its innovative “graffiti” shapes, bold scale and brilliant color contrasts.

Her choice of whimsical shapes, links and weaves, together with her unique color combinations, have earned Paloma an international reputation. Throughout her long collaboration with Tiffany, she has created many one-of-a-kind accessories and important necklaces, mounting large and fine specimens of colored gemstones.

Paloma Picasso On Design

“The first step to creation is actually what you take in.”

“When you look around, there are things that attract you and make your heart sing, and others that don’t.”

“The first act of creation is actually choosing. “

“You choose the things around you that appeal to you and come back to you in your design. Usually they don’t come back in a very literal way. It could be something I’ve seen in a building, a special curve or angle that I thought was interesting which at some point will come back into my design.”

“I always had a keen interest in architecture, even I thought I wasn’t going to go out and study architecture or Beaux Arts, so Id better find another way to approach art. Actually I thought I might be able to get away without doing something that was not artistic, but somehow, I had to express myself this way, and jewelry was a way that I found to express myself.”

Paloma Picasso on European Influences

“I grew up in France with always with the idea that a part of me was Spanish.

For many years I didn’t know what that meant except maybe, that my father was very Spanish. We would go to bullfights when I was a little girl. We would have flamenco people coming to see my father.”

“I think it is always nice to have a fantasy background—because I didn’t get to Spain until I was 17 years old. So that added a dimension to my background. “

“The fact that I have a very special name—Paloma—because, of course, my father gave me this name because of the peace sove he had designed. At the same time I was growing up in a world where culture was very prevalent.”

“The fact that I could speak another language gave me a certain freedom. I felt that if I spoke English and I made a mistake everyone would think that I just didn’t speak English properly. It gave me a lot of freedom speaking English and it opened up a lot of new doors, and new experiences.”

Paloma Picasso's Life Today

Paloma Picasso marked her 30th anniversary at Tiffany & Co. recently with the introduction of three new jewelry collections—Paloma’s Marrakesh, Hammered Circles, and Paloma’s Dove— elegant statements of her timeless sophistication.

Paloma Picasso is married to Dr. Eric Thévenet, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, whose interest in art and design has provided insights toward the creation of her jewelry collections. Dr. Thévenet is credited with contributing to the overall success of Ms. Picasso’s jewelry business. “Eric’s keen sense of business and aesthetics has been extremely beneficial to me,” said Paloma. They have residences in Lausanne and Marrakesh.

Images of Paloma Picasso collection inspired by living in Morocco, courtesy of Tiffany & Co,

Images used here with express permission.


Windlost said...

What a lovely post, Diane. I had forgotten about her and was delighted to see her name and the beautiful photos. I just adore her designs and wish her all the luck in the world with her charming new collection. She has a great eye for elegant simplicity. I can't wait to see the collections.
I so appreciate your blog and your keeping me informed on all things exquisite (despite being in my quiet little faraway world!) :)

Best wishes, Terri

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Aren't you lovely!

I'm always so happy to hear from friends who work in totally unrelated fields--for example a recent comment from a friend who's a bioethicist, and other comments from friends who are in the fields of law and management and so many fascinating worlds.
Love it...and I love to inspired everyone, best DIANE

Philip Bewley said...

Hi Diane,
I loved seeing her new designs -the designs inspired by the ornament of Morocco, the geometric fretwork and delicate scrolling foliate openwork is quite beautiful. There is that Hispano Moresque tradition in there, as well, and so it part of her Spanish heritage she discusses -I loved imagining her as a child when the flamenco dancers would come to visit Picasso.

Warm regards,

peggy braswell said...

How exciting to see a story on PP, love her designs + adore reading about her design process + seeing bits of her life with her husband.
what a treat your blog is.

mary said...

I Love the mature Paloma. Her collections are earthy, yet so sophisticated.
Thanks for the great post and the update on PP.

A.J.Barnes said...

Your post made me think back to the early 90's when Paloma introduced her first fragrance. I attend a cocktail launch party and pushed my way to the front of the room for a 8x10 color glossy photo. In the photo we appears as best friends (except that she looks quite scared). thanks for the memory.

A.J.Barnes said...

Your post made me think back to the early 90's when Paloma introduced her first fragrance. I attend a cocktail launch party and pushed my way to the front of the room for a 8x10 color glossy photo. In the photo we appears as best friends (except that she looks quite scared). thanks for the memory.