Remember a couple of years ago when Zoë Kravitz wore that mesh bra with a low-slung black skirt from Sant Laurent to the Vanity Fair Oscar party? Of course, you do. The 18K gold accessory did the impossible. It stood out as a daring style statement on a night when every star in Hollywood is shining brightly on the red carpet.
What you may not have known about the cutting-edge accessory is that the piece was originally designed by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. in 1975. It was the editorial item in the collection that focused on mesh scarves.
Well, Peretti fans prepare to get excited. Tiffany has launched a limited-edition Mesh capsule collection of one-of-a-kind necklaces set with gems. More on that in a moment.
First a look back at what inspired Elsa Peretti to make mesh in the first place.
The part of Elsa Peretti’s story that is almost always told when her jewelry is in the news is how she was an intimate part of the New York fashion crowd during the 1970s in New York. What is so often overlook in the bright lights of her big city narrative is the designer’s commitment to how her creations were crafted.
“A tremendous amount of work and research went into this little scarf,” Elsa explained about the mesh in the 1990 catalog for her retrospective exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Fifteen of My Fifty With Tiffany. (The title acknowledges that her 15th anniversary with the jeweler coincided with her 50th birthday.)
Elsa had the idea for the bra during a trip to India where she saw mesh being handmade. A little illustration of a knight in shining armor in Fifteen of My Fifty also suggest she liked the material’s chain mail quality.
Elsa’s problem was how to make mesh in Manhattan.
Elsa contacted the Director of the Jewelry Department at FIT, Samuel Beizer, to see if he could help her figure it out. Together, they found old machines that were originally used to manufacture the pressure metal mesh for evening bags in the early years of the 20th century. Elsa and Sam used these apparatuses to make the first bra. The construction was such that there were no seams on the many links. It was smooth to the touch.
Halston debuted the mesh bra in his Fall 1975 fashion show. It was styled underneath an open button-down shirt and layered with several of Elsa Peretti’s Diamonds-by-the-Yard necklaces.
“Tiffany was swamped with calls from people dying to get a gold bra,” Elsa recalled after the show. “I was shocked at the time, but Walter Hoving [Tiffany’s chairman] just smiled.”
Elsa added that “The essential end product of those old, splendid times in Jaipur is a small gold scarf.”
Now Tiffany has brought back this essential product and embellished it was some rare gems to form one-of-a-kind designs. Emerald beads ranging from 5 to over 16 carats accent some of the gold mesh scarves that come in various shapes and sizes. Silver renditions of the mesh scarves are accented with Tahitian Keshi pearls.
Among all the stunning mesh designs in the series, the pièce-de-résistance is a gold bib necklace accented with 66 round brilliant diamonds totaling 3.72 carats. The diamonds sparkling on the gold is reminiscent of the Mesh and Diamonds-by-the-Yard combination that debuted at Halston’s fashion show in 1975. It is also a glamorous and versatile piece of chain mail that would make a strong statement at a big red carpet event or just about any occasion.