Now, the New Tiffany, unboxed. The Tiffany & Company main shop on Fifth Avenue and East 57th Street was buried in scaffolding for nearly four years as it underwent a full-scale makeover.
In the days leading up to the reopening on April 28, Tiffany executive vice president, Alexandre Arnault, and the company's CEO, Anthony Ledru, kept an eye on final preparations while whispering in French to each other.
Tiffany jewels glistened in display cases, including heart tag bracelets, Elsa Peretti Bone cuffs, and Paloma Picasso necklaces. Surrounding digital screens displayed a simulation of a diamond-encrusted bird fluttering across the New York City skyline.
“We asked ourselves lots of questions going into this,” Mr. Ledru, 50, said. “Are we going to change the feel? Do we respect tradition? We decided to do both.”
He pointed to the computerized bird, saying that it was based on a design by Jean Schlumberger, a well-known Tiffany jewelrymaker.
There’s that tension: modernity and heritage.- Mr. Ledru
Since the renovation began, a lot has changed at Tiffany. Specifically, the company's ownership. After tense negotiations, LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired Tiffany in 2021 for approximately $16 billion.
The transaction was one of the largest in the luxury industry's history, as well as LVMH's most significant American brand acquisition to date.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the jewelry store effectively became the property of Bernard Arnault, the 74-year-old founder, chairman, and largest shareholder of LVMH, who recently dethroned Elon Musk as the world's richest person.
He has developed a kingdom of more than 75 companies over three decades, including Dior, Celine, TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Fendi, Dom Pérignon, and Sephora.
One of Mr. Arnault's five children, Alexandre Arnault, 30, stood near the location where "Equals Pi," a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, will go last week while construction workers labored away on the ground level.
The painting, which has a shade of blue comparable to Tiffany's iconic color, was heavily featured in Tiffany's 2021 "About Love" advertising campaign, which starred Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
“When people enter from Fifth Avenue, they will see the Basquiat,” said Alexandre Arnault, who wore a Dior suit and Loro Piana sneakers. “It’s an important part of the Tiffany brand now.”
Mr. Arnault, who is responsible for most of Tiffany's creative vision, is tall and lanky and was one of the architects of the "About Love" campaign. When a former Basquiat helper stated that the artist had not intended any homage to the brand, the use of Basquiat sparked some debate.
But, from a commercial standpoint, it didn't matter: the Tiffany name was in the newsfor days, indicating that it no longer belonged simply to the era in which Holly Golightly (portrayed by Audrey Hepburn) adored the vitrines of its flagship in the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
The new Tiffany, the LVMH Tiffany, was establishing itself as a disruptive and viral brand.
Alexandre Arnault was tasked with directing the remodeling of the Tiffany store, which the businesscalls the Landmark, amid conjecture about who of the Arnault children will follow the LVMH founder.
Before coming from Paris to New York two years ago to focus on the project, he revitalized another LVMH brand, Rimowa, through collaborations with Virgil Abloh and Supreme.
Mr. Ledru, Tiffany's CEO, was born in Brittany, France, and raised in Lille. He is a luxury business veteran who has worked for Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston, and Cartier.
A publicist rushed to get him a napkin when a drip of blood appeared on his chin that afternoon as a consequence of a shaving cut. Mr. Ledru said:
This is not just another flagship. For us, the Landmark is now the lighthouse of the brand.- Mr. Ledru
The reboot preserved the building's exterior and the Atlas statue clock above its door, but it saved nothing else. The Landmark openly expresses LVMH's aim to impose its DNA on the company founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young.
Tiffany's Fifth Avenue flagship opened in 1940. When the renovations began in 2019, the store relocated to the former Niketown location next door.
The architect Peter Marino designed Landmark, and its 10 stories are filled with pieces by artists such as Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, and Rashid Johnson.
A Daniel Boulud restaurant, the Blue Box Cafe, which serves a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" dinner, and an Audrey Hepburn experience room, which displays a copy of her black Givenchy dress from the film's opening scene, are among the flashy additions. (LVMH purchased Givenchy in 1988.)
“People relate a lot to her when it comes to Tiffany,” Mr. Arnault said. “So, we wanted to make a homage to her.”
The two executives strolled up an undulating mirror-lined staircase inspired by Ms. Peretti's designs while giving a reporter a tour of the facility.
Wedding and engagement ringswere specialized on the third floor, goldand diamondson the fourth, silveron the fifth, and home goods and accessories on the sixth. A Patek Philippe department store and a jewelry studio were on the seventh floor.
Mr. Ledru highlighted the details that went into planning each floor, while Mr. Arnault deviated from the press tour, scrutinizing side rooms and photographing them with his phone.
Earlier, the two executives had sat on a green couch in a book-lined room for a more formal interview. LVMH, a conservative and tight-lipped public relations firm, refused to provide Landmark's building cost.
A publicist who joined in on the conversation had already stated that questions about the LVMH succession were off-limits. Nonetheless, Mr. Arnault and Mr. Ledru took a few questions from the audience.
Was Mr. Arnault under any pressure to complete his objective for the family at the age of 30?
“Am I sweating?” he said. “No. Because I’m surrounded by the best professionals we could have.”
Were they concerned about the possibility of a recession on the eve of Landmark's opening? Mr. Ledru said:
There’s ups and downs, but the one thing about the U.S. is that it comes back strong. New York is much stronger now than it was last year and the year before. I don’t want to be overly confident, but we’re happy to finally open our doors.- Mr. Ledru
Mr. Arnault added: “We’re releasing our Q1 numbers for LVMH tomorrow. I encourage you to have a look.”
(The next day, LVMH announced a 17 percent increase in first-quarter sales, exceeding analyst projections. In response, French employees protesting pension changes stormed LVMH's Paris headquarters, demanding that the wealthy contribute more to the state pension.
Was there anything else that made them nervous besides the economy?
“I’m anxious for the first holiday season,” Mr. Arnault said. “It’s such an important part of American culture. This is the first one back at the original Tiffany’s corner.”
"We were a lot more anxious a year ago when we were receiving phone calls from Mr. Arnault asking, ‘When do you open?'" According to Mr. Ledru.
After finishing their tour of the Landmark, the two men proceeded onto the building's eighth-floor deck. They stood in the cool spring breeze, admiring the view of Fifth Avenue.
“Pas mal, non?” Mr. Ledru said. (“Not bad, no?”) eighth-floor
While construction workers pounded away behind them, rushing to finish a glass-walled event area, Mr. Arnault took note of several other LVMH buildings nearby: Louis Vuitton across the street, Bulgari across the street, and Dior down the road.
“I can spy on them,” Mr. Arnault said. “I can make sure they’re working from here.”