Inside the reopened Tiffany’s: A new look for the landmark space
Retail Watch | May 25, 2023
Many people dream of having breakfast there, and it’s often the first stop when shopping for diamond engagement rings, but Tiffany & Co. has a surprisingly healthy home furnishings department. Visitors to the legacy brand’s newly reopened New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue will find an entire floor devoted to high-end home furnishings and lifestyle merchandise.
Tiffany, virtually synonymous with jewelry and extravagance, spent more than three years and an undisclosed number of big blue boxes of its new owner LVMH’s money to completely redo its main store, which now goes by The Landmark.
The top-to-bottom renovation, designed by famed architect Peter Marino, added two stories to the existing building, which dates back to 1940 and is now 10 stories high. And while jewelry, fashion accessories and those oh-so-famous diamonds are most certainly the stars of the store, the sixth floor is devoted to home and accessories.
Shoppers arrive on that floor via new elevators—there’s a giant piece of art by graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat on the ground floor—or a grand circular staircase (that Hitchcock could have used in Vertigo) inspired by the late jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who has been a staple of Tiffany for decades. Visitors are greeted by elaborately set tables along with a pair of Julian Schnabel paintings before encountering the brand’s home assortment. The floral arrangements on the tables—which Business Insider said looked like “Tiffany was expecting a dinner party at any moment”—are, of course, fresh.
Elsewhere on the home floor are display cases of flatware, table accessories and more dinnerware, including sets in Tiffany’s signature eggshell blue. There are also pet food bowls and collars—for sale—and whimsical tables and furniture—not for sale. Most are not adorned with price tags, reinforcing the old “If you have to ask...” adage.
The sixth floor also contains The Blue Box Café, a small restaurant that opened in 2017 and has been completely redone, offering service throughout the day (including, but of course, breakfast). Reservations will be New York–impossible to get, but an employee—and they were everywhere throughout the store dressed in smart black uniforms—said a number of seats are saved every day for walk-ins. Holly Golightly’s croissant at just $4 seemed like a veritable bargain.
Speaking of Miss Golightly, one floor up is a niche containing a little tribute to her character in the persona of Audrey Hepburn, showing the famous clip of her admiring the store windows at daybreak after a night on the town, complete with that fabulous dress and “Moon River” playing in the background.
It’s one of several nice touches throughout the store that recall Tiffany’s history, including re-creations of previous window displays, several real Tiffany lamps—created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the store’s 1837 founder—and the occasional priceless bauble… behind significant layers of security glass.
They are juxtaposed with a MOMA-worthy collection of contemporary art, including the Basquiat and the Schnabels, but also modern lighting and, at the base of the staircase, a towering aqua-green statue of Venus by artist Daniel Arsham. Wall surfaces throughout the upper floors are a fascinating mix of textures and finishes that are at once both classical and ultramodern.
The showpiece is the store’s main floor, which might invite the most mixed opinions, including here. Two stories high, the space features giant video projections on the walls of bucolic outdoor scenes, perhaps nearby Central Park or maybe someone’s absinthe-inspired vision. They are a bit jarring in contrast to the rest of the store, and if the idea is to mix the old and the new, one can argue nobody said anything about the clichéd. Video screens can be found in Las Vegas hotel elevators these days, and one has to think all of those LVMH euros could have been spent on something fresher—as was done on the upper floors.
But like it or not, the new Tiffany flagship makes an incredible statement about the power of physical retailing. Reopening shortly after the launch of two very different stores in Manhattan—the return of the off-pricer Century 21 downtown and the new Times Square flagship of Chinese-based dollar-type player Miniso—Tiffany’s Landmark makes clear that consumers still love the act of in-person shopping. The wall-to-wall crowds on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street prove it.
Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.
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