REMEMBERING THE 70’s and ELSA PERETTI’S BONE CUFF
I was pre-teen in the early seventies. It was the time of my parent’s divorce, EST, women’s lib, disco and the Elsa Peretti Bone cuff. Talk about a classic that retained its style and cool allure that speaks to all generations. Designed in 1974, you can still immediately picture the sexy cuff that was organic and sculptured at the same time; polished, yet with a primitive silhouette that seamlessly hugged the wrist. It was the piece of jewelry that all mothers I knew wore- and all daughters like me wanted. Although my mom loved fashion–she wore shift dresses and Mikimoto pearls in the Jackie Kennedy days, Biba in the late 60s through the early 70s— her attempt to regain a second childhood after she began dating again, led her to the questionably adolescent choices of puka shells, Zuni turquoise and peasant shirts. I was entering adulthood (read: my teenage years) with a fake ID to dance the night away in shimmery halters, tube tops and platform shoes.
When my mom became Senior VP of a well-known ready-to-wear company in 1976, she got serious about back to work clothes and took us both to Tiffany& Co. to buy the more exaggerated Elsa Peretti cuff for herself and the medium width version for my Sweet Sixteen gift.
A visionary, Elsa Peretti was savvy enough to understand the cultural shifts and changes in women’s roles at the time. She designed pieces that created simplicity in forms that would reflect powerful women: her fluid-shaped pieces with undulating surfaces danced the night away at Studio 54 and climbed the career ladder during the day, similar to the woman who designed them.
The bone cuff was perhaps the most celebrated design of the Italian transplant and was worn by celebrities such as Sophia Loren and Liza Minnelli and style icon, Diana Vreeland. Peretti was educated in both Italy and Switzerland and started her career in the US as a model. When she began to design her first pieces of jewelry, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo commissioned styles for a fashion show- which were an instant success. Around this time she met Halston, who became a long-time friend and collaborator. She designed pieces for him before being hired by Tiffany & Co. in 1974, when the renowned jeweler introduced the Elsa Peretti collection.
Throughout the years and the changing style–the 80’s hard-core punk and the delicacy of the emerging designers of the 90s—there were times I kept my bone cuff locked away in a jewelry box and others times I’d take it out when I felt bold.
But since the new millennium–when style is so personal and women mix antique, vintage and contemporary looks in their jewelry wardrobes–I am glad that I kept it for all of these years. It still graces the wrists of many style-setting actresses such as Rosamund Pike, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. These leading ladies have worn this cuff to various red carpet events in recent years – proof that Peretti’s original pieces have as much modern and timely appeal as when she first designed them. In April 2016, I was also delighted to see and @elsaperettiofficial instagram account. The legacy continues on.
When I put on my bone cuff I might not have the same hankering for halters and platforms, but I still get the feeling to slide into my sensual cuff and go out and dance.