As any good campaign should, Tiffany & Co’s attempt to appeal to younger potential customers with its “About Love” campaign lit up both the fashion press and mainstream media last month. Beyoncé is the first Black woman to wear the hypnotically yellow Tiffany Diamond in public since its 1878 acquisition by the jeweler. The campaign is still going strong.
“The Tiffany Diamond is iconic,” says Jewelry Design Professor Wendy Yothers, who has worked as a Tiffany’s craftsman. “It is a rare, beautiful gem formed by the miraculous power of natural phenomena.”
The About Love campaign now includes a scholarship program with a $2 million pledge from Tiffany’s for students at historically Black colleges and universities. This week the campaign released a romantic home-style video of Beyoncé wearing the Tiffany Diamond while singing “Moon River.”
FIT alums, from Fashion Design, Fabric Styling, Illustration and other majors have benefited from other riches, artistically that is, from Beyoncé’s fashion choices and vision.
Beyoncé’s debut of “Black Is King,” the feature-length visual album, includes a stunning wardrobe of over 70 designs. It was “a fashion fever-dream of jaw-dropping looks by mostly Black designers,” as FIT Newsroom described.
Jerome LaMaar, Fabric Styling ’07, created a look that was inspired by matriarchs at Nigerian weddings. He hand-beaded a Nigerian lace trench-jumper with gloves, covered with turquoise, jade, hematite, mother-of-pearl, silver, and Swarovski crystals.
LaMaar has created designs for Queen Bey since 2014, including outfits for her appearance at the Billboard awards, a Coachella party, and her 35th birthday. It hasn’t changed the magnitude of working with her.
“I mean, it’s still Beyoncé. I’m honored that her team still thinks I’m worthy,” LaMaar told GQ Magazine.
Lorraine West, Illustration ’18, designed her now well-known “Abstract Palette Earrings” for Beyoncé, which the singer wore to perform the song “Water.“ As described on the designer’s website, the earrings are “a tribute to all people that are painting a new world through their positive cause in life.”
Venny Etienne, who attended FIT for Fashion Merchandising, created a broad-shouldered floral jacket with an “amped up” silhouette for the “Black Is King” film.
The experience, he told Texas Monthly, “represents how one person could uplift a whole community…Where we have the ability to portray an image of excellence, an image of Black culture.”
Other FIT alums who have designed for Beyoncé include: Mirabai Howard-Geogan, Fashion Design ’09, a design consultant for Mia Vesper, who created looks to compliment an Egyptian-inspired scene. Dynasty and Soull Ogun, FIT’s Design Entrepreneurs NYC program’19, of L’Enchanteur, submitted accessories for Beyoncé’s “Spirit” song, (above), from which followed by more commissions.
We spotted the work of four of these alums in the video for the song “Already.”
The Tiffany Diamond campaign has raised concerns, mainly on social media, as to whether the diamond was mined by colonized or slave labor, (referred to as a “blood” or “conflict” diamond). Others have said that the goal of tracking such diamonds is intended to keep money out of the hands of those who exploit and harm others in modern times. The Tiffany Diamond was found 150 years ago.
And what about those poses in front of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, “Equals Pi?” Is the painting’s teal blue background the same as Tiffany’s trademarked blue boxes? No, it turns out, at least not according to the person who mixed paint for Basquiat.
As for the real worth of the diamond? For now, it’s reflected in the wearer. “The Tiffany Diamond is an iconic symbol of miraculous natural beauty. Beyoncé is miraculous, but adds genius, art and work beyond imagining to be the even rarer gem,” says Prof. Yothers.
To read more about FIT alums who have worked with Beyoncé go to: Beyoncé Wore Many Alumni Designs in Black Is King.
Prof. Wendy Yothers co-edited the forthcoming book “Digital Meets Handmade,” which addresses how digital technologies and handcraft can coalesce as wearable art. She is an artisan in the Society of American Silversmiths.