Black muses

Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Tiffany’s black diamonds 

By François Thomas

Posted on October 4, 2021 08:32

Britain Lion King Premiere © Singers Jay-Z, left, and Beyonce pose for photographers upon arrival at the ‘Lion King’ European premiere in central London, Sunday, July 14, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Singers Jay-Z, left, and Beyonce pose for photographers upon arrival at the ‘Lion King’ European premiere in central London, Sunday, July 14, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

60 years after Audrey Hepburn, Tiffany’s has chosen the Carter couple as its muses. It did so in the hopes of attracting a younger, more international clientele, different from its traditionally white audience.

On 15 September, aficionados discovered that Beyoncé and Jay-Z were the new faces of luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co. The iconic couple presented “About Love”, the company’s new collection.

She wore a black dress by Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and wore the world’s most famous diamond, the Tiffany Diamond (128.54 carats, 82 facets), around her neck. He sported a Basquiat-like rasta hairstyle, seemingly questioning the usual white-centric assumptions of what is chic and in good taste.

In the background was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Equals Pi”, a painting that Bernard Arnault, the group’s boss, had acquired and which has never been revealed to the public. This disruptive painter died in 1988 and remains one of the world’s most celebrated African-American artists.

Rap and ultra-luxury

In 1961, Audrey Hepburn played the same role as the Carters. We all remember the first scene of the film Diamonds on the Sofa, which featured the Hollywood star.

Also sporting a little black dress, her neck adorned with a quadruple strand of pearls, she admires the jeweller’s window, sighs and says: “Nothing bad could ever happen to you at Tiffany’s.”

Tiffany’s, which became part of the LVMH group in 2019, has long been considered part of the Wasp (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) establishment and is now trying to attract a different, younger, more international clientele, whose culture, desires and aspirations are just as important.

60 years after Hepburn, some black icons have taken up the mantle, because they can claim to possess all the necessary assets. The world of 2021 is not the world of the 1960s.

The Black Lives Matter movement, the phenomenal impact of social media, the rise of counter-culture, and the growing influence of African-American icons and cultural actors working in the music industry have had a significant impact on the big names in luxury’s advertising campaigns.

The combination of ultra-luxury and rap music, which was considered explosive and improbable yesterday, is a winner on social media and in the imaginary world of the internet.

The “About Love” campaign thus set a precedent. Alexandre Arnault, executive vice-president of Tiffany & Co, who is responsible for rejuvenating the brand, said he was honoured “that the Carters are part of the Tiffany family.”


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An exceptional windfall

A part of the family – what a clever formula. Luxury and “rebels” have linked their fate. While this is nothing new in fashion or perfume, it is unusual in fine jewellery, where carats hate to leave their comfort zone. The LVMH group – which owns a 50% stake in Armand de Brignac champagne, which is owned by Jay-Z – knows the rapper well and had little trouble convincing the billionaire couple, who are adored around the world. Beyoncé has 200 million followers on Instagram. This was an exceptional windfall.

The Carters are not millennials, but they make them dream

The Carters are not millennials, but they make them dream. They have created a bond with this group of people that may not have enough purchasing power to afford a diamond, but who are aware of how much luxury plays a role in music, sports, cars, fashion and accessories.

Everything here seems to be have been crafted with the power and influence of the stakeholders in mind. In 2021, we are no longer consumed by Michael Jordan’s story, nor that of his victories or runners. Instead, we are betting on the ultra-luxury business, without fear of prejudice or shame. Jay-Z earns more from his investments in champagne, real estate, etc. than from his vinyl records.

Now that Tiffany & Co has acquired this jewel – its 75th acquisition – LVMH can no longer remain on the sidelines of these phenomena that are bound by fundamental trends.

African-American rap music is more powerful than ever and eager to “live luxuriously.” This inclusiveness goes beyond simply choosing black influencers, as the luxury group has just hired a diversity director in France.

The Black Lives Matter protest has set a precedent in people’s minds and communication policies. Louboutin took the risk of offering a pair of pumps to Assa Traoré, who posed for its communication campaign denouncing “police violence.”

Some say that this is a glamorous way of demonstrating that they have captured the times, which are marked by issues of inclusion and diversity.

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