Paloma Picasso (1949-present), has not let her famous father, Pablo Picasso, cast a shadow on her own creativity. She has forged her own independent career from the rich artistic blood running through her veins. Being the daughter of one of the world’s greatest artists, Pablo Picasso, she grew up with art and has brought her own unique, Avant-guard approach to creating jewellery.
Jewellery Maker Profile: Paloma Picasso
In 1968 Paloma began designing costume jewellery with rhinestones and other objects she found in Parisian flea-markets. Her creations were soon admired by friend and Haute-Couturier, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), who commissioned the young Paloma to design accessories for his next runway show. By 1971, off the back of her success with YSL she began designing for the Greek goldsmith, Zolotas. The partnership was short lived but successful as Zolotas’ style echoed Paloma’s love of large scale statement pieces.
In 1980 she began her long lasting partnership with the American power-house, Tiffany & Co. The partnership began in 1979 after John Loring, Tiffany’s director, invited Paloma to create a table setting for a private exhibition at Tiffany’s. He was impressed with her work with YSL and for Zolotas, and the table setting was a success. In 2010 Paloma celebrated her 30th anniversary working with Tiffany. The occasion was marked by the release of three new collections: ‘Hammered Circles’, ‘Paloma’s Doves’, drawing on her name and a nostalgic tribute to her father’s drawings, and ‘Marrakesh’, a special collection inspired by the traditional motifs of her beloved home in Morocco.
Design Director of Tiffany & CO., John Loring, has described Paloma’s work as “aggressively chic”. Loring has also praised “Paloma Picasso [who] never follows fashion: she always keeps herself a number of paces ahead of it”. Since 1983 she has been a constant presence on the International Best Dressed List and in 1988 she was honoured by The Fashion Group as a ‘Woman Who Have Made An Extraordinary Impact On Our Industry’.
Today Paloma continues to design, living between Lausanne, Switzerland and Morocco, which provides a constant source of inspiration. In Paloma’s own words: “My purpose in life is to make everything more beautiful”.
John Loring summarised Paloma’s style as ” Uncompromisingly stylised: Her signature is seen in ‘X’s, scribbles, zigzags, all sculpted in gold. She also punctuates gold with lavishly scaled coloured gemstones”.
Two such “lavishly scaled coloured gemstones” are today preserved in American museums. A monumental kunzite necklace weighing 396.30 carats, is housed in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History, and a magnificent 408.63 carat moonstone bracelet accented with diamond ‘lighting bolts’ is displayed in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Paloma’s inventive attitude to jewellery has led her to embrace unorthodox materials and motifs. Her almost iconoclastic yet dramatic style has led her to design a collection of necklaces fashioned from gem-set bikinis for a performance at the Folies Begere.
‘Graffiti’ is another example of her ingenious ability to find beauty in the unexpected. As her debut collection for Tiffany’s in the early 1970’s, it caused a sensation. Of the collection Paloma has said: “In the ’70s people were starting to tag subways and walls, which had everyone outraged. It has continued to be popular. I wanted to look at graffiti differently and try to make something positive out of it”.
The collection shows her unique outlook. Graffiti demonstrates Paloma’s ability to look beyond convention. She understood long before others, that graffiti is a form of artistic expression. She transformed something seen as vandalism into precious objects immortalised in gold and accented by diamonds. Intertwined with this whimsicality is a deep sentimentality. Within the two deft strokes of an ‘x’ is the communion of two hearts. The ‘x’ is now a timeless symbol of love, representing a kiss.
Her signature design traits are big, bold and full of colour. The dramatic scale of her jewels have attracted a dramatic cross section of admirers, with sales of her work for Tiffany’s consistently high, but she is her best model. No one wears a Paloma Picasso design as well as Paloma Picasso herself. Yet, within each of her unique designs she shares her distinct style imbuing the wearer with a sleek, modern chic.