Asian influences appear in jewelry of Paloma Picasso

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Asian influences appear in jewelry of Paloma Picasso

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The 18K gold pendant of the tiger with a diamond to express sparkling eyes. The charm on the bracelet and pendent both have Paloma Picasso’s signature engraved on them.[JoongAng Ilbo]

The year of the tiger is upon us, according to the Chinese zodiac. While celebrating this Asian tradition, memorabilia with the ferocious feline is pouring into the market.

The Chinese zodiac is made up of 12 animals that correspond to different personality types. Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the artist Pablo Picasso, became mesmerized by this concept, and turned her fascination into a jewelry collection she designed for the high end jewelry brand Tiffany & Co.

“I’ve been exposed to many cultural backgrounds during my childhood, living from country to country all over Europe,” Picasso said. “That is why I have an interest in different cultures and ideologies. The Asian philosophy that animals’ attributes can correspond with human personalities was fascinating to me.”

Picasso was born in Paris in 1949 and was the daughter of two artists, Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot. After finishing school in jewelry design in 1969, she worked with fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent on his jewelry collection and went to work for Tiffany & Co. in 1980.

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Paloma Picasso, the daughter of artist Pablo Picasso, has designed jewelry for Tiffany & Co. for 30 years.

“This year makes my 30th anniversary at Tiffany & Co.,” said the designer. “Even though I was born in the year of the ox, I have a special attachment to the tiger. That is why if you look at the chest of the tiger on the pendant, you will see the symbol of the ‘X Collection,’ which is one of my most well-known collections.”

When asked how she had come up with the tiger designs, she answered, “I have looked at many Chinese history books and pieces of art related to the zodiac signs but I focused mostly on the innate characteristics that each animal has. The goal of the collection was to bring out the unique poses and personalities that they represent.

“My design philosophy is to make accessories that are cheerful and active on their own, so the wearer feels happy and feel beautiful just putting them on. In that sense, I tried to portray each feather and every inch of fur in a lifelike and intricate way, as if the animal is moving.”

There was some concern as to whether a strictly Asian concept like the Chinese zodiac would be familiar to Westerners. Picasso said, however, that months prior to the release of each collection, all Tiffany & Co. employees receive a thorough education about the concept, design and material used in each piece.

“In addition, more and more Westerners are becoming interested in Asian culture, so there are less problems with getting people to understand the concept,” Picasso said.

The designer was very optimistic about the Asian market as a whole.

“Tiffany & Co. is very aware of the quickly growing Asian market,” she said. “Rather than emphasizing the American roots of our company, we pursue more diversity in our designs. There are four jewelry designers at Tiffany including myself and we all come from different backgrounds - France, Italy and Canada. We are free to express our individuality and try new things all the time.

“The Chinese zodiac is a wonderful birthday tradition. We all have a curiosity about the zodiac and whether it influences our lives.”

Picasso’s Chinese Zodiac collection is available at select Tiffany & Co. stores worldwide.


By Seo Jeong-min [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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