The Carters are reinventing a classic—with a strategic reveal from one of the world’s most sought-after contemporary artists. After announcing earlier this month that they are the new ambassadors for legacy jewelry designers Tiffany & Co., the couple’s first appearance for the brand was teased Monday morning, also featuring a first look at a never-before-seen painting by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat.
People magazine had the exclusive on the upcoming campaign titled “About Love,” which begins to roll out in full on September 2 and gives a nod to the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s—as interpreted by the Carters, of course. Directed by Emmanuel Adjei (one of the talents behind Black Is King), the short film features Jay doing a little camera work of his own, capturing a beaming Bey on a Super 8 camera at Los Angeles’ Orum House, also chosen by the couple.
The singer sits at a grand piano, plunking out chords from “Moon River,” the Henry Mancini song made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film. Fifty years later, Beyoncé has reportedly recorded her own rendition of the classic song, which can be heard in full when the short film is released on September 15.
Also echoing one of the most iconic images of Hepburn, Bey wears a clinging, sleeveless, floor-length black gown with opera-length gloves and an updo, adorned with the legendary Tiffany Yellow Diamond. Including Hepburn herself, Beyoncé is only the fourth person to ever wear the 144-year-old, over-128-carat jewel—and is reportedly the first Black woman to ever do so. Jay fittingly wears one-of-a-kind cufflinks fashioned from another classic piece of Tiffany history, Jean Schlumberger’s “Bird on a Rock” brooch.
“Love is the diamond that the jewelry and art decorate,” said a somewhat cryptic statement from the couple obtained by People.
But in the six-second teaser, there’s another star of the show; captured more clearly in the print campaign shot by frequent Carter collaborator Mason Poole. As explained by People:
ABOUT LOVE also features a painting from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s private collection called Equals Pi reimagined in signature Tiffany Blue. Composed of mathematical equations and symbols, the piece is quintessential Basquiat, despite making its first-ever public appearance in this campaign. According to the release, it was included because art serves as a “common thread throughout the Carter’s love story” and the overarching Tiffany & Co. campaign.
Of course, Jay’s affinity for Basquiat has been evident for some time now, even in his personal aesthetic, which has not gone unnoticed by the couple’s followers. Others expressed concern that Basquiat’s unseen work was being used for a luxury jewelry ad; however, given his family’s close control over the late artist’s estate and licensing of his work for everything from t-shirts to Coach bags, it’s likely a moot issue.
“Beyoncé and JAY-Z are the epitome of the modern love story. As a brand that has always stood for love, strength and self-expression, we could not think of a more iconic couple that better represents Tiffany’s values,” EVP of Product and Communications Alexandre Arnault said in a statement to People. “We are honored to have the Carters as a part of the Tiffany family.”
Corrected: Monday, 8/23/21 at 9:09 p.m., ET: While the now-hotly debated Basquiat in question was widely touted as a “never-before-seen” piece from the late artist, multiple sources have clarified that the piece has simply never been publicly displayed prior to this campaign.
Per Women’s Wear Daily:
Tiffany recently acquired the spectacular artwork, which had been in the possession of a private collector since the early 1980s, adding another surprise and layer of storytelling to a vast, yet nuanced advertising effort, which is to break in print next month.
“We don’t have any literature that says he made the painting for Tiffany,” [Alexandre] Arnault related over Zoom. “But we know a little bit about Basquiat. We know his family. We did an exhibition of his work at the Louis Vuitton Foundation a few years back. We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.
“As you can see, there is zero Tiffany blue in the campaign other than the painting,” he added, noting that the artwork will ultimately take up permanent residence in Tiffany’s flagship boutique on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, currently undergoing renovation. “It’s a way to modernize Tiffany blue.”