The Handbag Diaries: Paloma Picasso

The iconic X: universal symbol for a kiss. Paired with an as a signature of endearment.

Famously reinterpreted by Paloma Picasso into jewelry she designed for Tiffany, and here, as her graphic signature on an ivory leather shoulder bag. Discovered at a thrift store, I knew at a glance who designed it. Obviously the pricer did not, as the tag was $4. I took it to the cashier hoping they would not realize their grave error. They did not; and I’ve had the bag for years; and pull it out of my closet every Spring. It still delights me.

Simple yet oh so stylish, with jewelry-like gold rings for the strap and a bold, gleaming gold on the front.

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Made in Italy with buttery soft leather. Secure magnetic closures at the top open to two divided compartments and a zippered wall pocket.

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Ever so practical and easy to organize–and find–items inside.

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Measures 7″ x 3 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ with a cross body sling strap at 26″ or can be doubled to use as a shoulder strap at 15″. The Paloma Picasso signature logo is embossed across the bottom.

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PALOMA PICASSO, daughter of famed 20-century artist Pablo Picasso and painter and writer Françoise Gilot, is now 66 years old. (Ah, those French women–we want to know how she is ageing this gracefully and beautifully!)

Primarily a self-taught artist, she is quick to point out that although she considers her jewelry design is an “artistic endeavour”, it is an “applied art”. Her craft is not “art for art’s sake” because her work must not only please herself, but also be loved by the woman who buys and wears it.

Paloma Picasso | Photo: Michael Thompson

As a young girl, Paloma was fascinated by jewelry. She created little pieces that she wore hidden under her clothes because wearing jewelry was not allowed at her school. Her secret accessorising brought her great joy and pleasure.

The burden of having the name of one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century, made the young girl feel she could never just be herself, that she was always being compared and judged and knew that great expectations were upon her. She became afraid to pick up a pencil.

Portrait of Paloma Picasso | Pablo Picasso | 1956.
Portrait of Paloma Picasso | Pablo Picasso | 1956

So she began to use fashion to divert attention from her who she was as a person, to what she was wearing instead–clothes became her “shield”. Paloma was so sartorially adept and inventive that she became somewhat of an It Girl in the 1970’s world of French theatre, art, and fashion:  Her dresses were copied, choices followed, appearance imitated. Both Yves St. Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were among her great admirers.

Paloma Picasso | Dress by Karl Lagerfeld | Photographed by Helmut Newton, 1978

Paloma Picasso began her career as a costume designer for avant-garde theatrical productions in Paris, stringing necklaces with rhinestones procured from Folies Bergère bikinis. Her sculpted wings and shooting stars—and other bijoux hand-soldered in her Paris loft–caught the attention of the critics. So Picasso enrolled in a jewelry making course. One thing led to another: Yves Saint Laurent asked her to design accessories to accompany one of his collections, and she began working for the Greek jewelry company, Zolotas. Then Tiffany’s design director at the time, John Loring, invited Picasso to create a table setting for one of Tiffany’s exhibitions. A year later, in 1980, her first exclusive collection of jewelry was introduced at Tiffany. As they say, the rest is history. She appeared in the Tiffay advertising campaigns and her stunning and powerful image and her bold and striking designs garnered her an international reputation and celebrity status.

Paloma Picasso has became renowned for her graffiti shapes–X’s and O’s, scribbles and zigzags in silver and gold–Sugar Stacks rings and dazzling use of semi-precious stones. Recently, the Olive Leaf collection was inspired by the olive groves in her garden at her home in Marrakech. Naturally, the stunning beauty was the was the face of the advertising campaigns and her striking looks and powerful image matched her large-scale, dramatic designs. Her collaboration with one of the most prestigious jewellers in the world combined with her instantly recognizable name and image garnered her an international reputation and celebrity status.

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Paloma Picasso
Tiffany |  Paloma Picasso | “Love & Kisses” Necklace
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Tiffany | Paloma Picasso | X Earrings | 1988
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Tiffany | Paloma Picasso | Scribble Brooch | 1983

Soon after her first collection for Tiffany, she launched her own brand, Paloma Picasso, and created a line of fashion accessories, fragrances, and in 1987 released her own lipstick, Mon Rouge, with L’Oréal Paris; a brilliant scarlet lipstick that became her trademark. Although her eponymous fragrance is still for sale, sadly not the lipstick. Apparently Picasso keeps her own dwindling stock in the refrigerator and, according to the New York Times, doesn’t let the tube out of her sight on photo shoots.

Paloma Picasso | Ad for her perfume and lipstick | Photo: Richard Avedon, 1984

Red lips have become my signature, so when I don’t want to be recognized, I don’t wear it.

Photo Walter Chin
Photo Walter Chin

Watch the Elegant & Eloquent Paloma Picasso on YouTube

Collection: Tiffany (Here); Paloma Picasso Fragrance (Here);

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Susan Written by:

One Comment

  1. Ivana
    September 26, 2017
    Reply

    When did Paloma stop making her handbags

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