Soft hitting documentaries on luxury lifestyle products have become a small screen staple of late. They are second only to shock/horror sneering at benefit ‘scum’ in their profusion.
It should follow then that Matthew Miele’s Crazy About Tiffany’s will find a broad and enthusiastic fan base upon its release. But something has gone sadly awry. His whistle-stop tour of moderately interesting facts, shiny things and increasingly tenuous pop culture references leaves the Grande Dame of diamond dealing entirely lacking sparkle.
Miele is no stranger to fawning over fabulousness. His 2013 feature Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s was gently mocked for its undeniable infomercial qualities. Yet there were redeeming features beneath that shallow surface and the appeal of its inventory of high fashion fans was heightened by Joan Rivers’ snark. Her acerbic wit is sorely missed here.
The principle issue is one of identity. As an observational documentary – in the vein of Channel 4’s hugely entertaining Liberty of London series – this feature could have been captivating. The crew had access to some real characters in the store staff alone. Chief among them a woman who once strutted the shop floor after hours wearing THE Tiffany diamond as a tiara and the loyal salesman explaining the ‘bargains’ to be had.
The life story of the store is rather skipped over too, architect plans flashed before us then set aside. And, though it is treated with reverence, the tale behind that iconic yellow Tiffany diamond alone deserved further exploration. The rough 287 carat stone was unearthed in South Africa in 1887 and Charles Lewis Tiffany took a huge gamble in purchasing it and reducing more than 150 carats to dust and rubble to excavate 82 glittering facets.
Crazy About Tiffany’s feels so pedestrian that one wonders whether Matthew Miele felt the ironic parallel with Tiffany himself as he edited away hours of candid footage of gossip, history and narrative potential into digital dust and excavated a cold hard advertorial from what remained. Such sacrifice seems a heavy price to pay for the”fully authorised” hallmark. That Tiffany & Co.’s star power is here represented by Jessica Biel says far more about their present status than Miele ever dares.
Pizazz is theoretically provided by scenes from the silver screen. Audrey Hepburn and Truman Capote are rightfully present in Breakfast at Tiffany’s footage but so are those lesser classics Bride Wars and Sweet Home Alabama. Andy Tennant tells a delightful story about the origin of his shop floor proposal scene and we have a fleeting glance at Baz Luhrmann and The Great Gatsby before we are whisked away to topics new.
The truth is that – aside from one blogger and Sweet Home Alabama fan who has dedicated her life to colouring all the big Instagram momentsTiffany blue – no one seems that crazy about Tiffany’s at all. Two little girls ponder the Blue Book with a mixture of awe and healthy scepticism. Even stylist Rachel Zoe – who proclaims inanimate objects “Bananas!” for a living and regularly “dies” for soft furnishings – has no bananas today.
In the spirit of balance Miele touches fearfully upon the relevance of the brand with fleeting observations from a young woman called Erica who made Tiffany & Co. the focus of her thesis. She is skeptical about the retro aspirations their huge holiday campaigns portray and the white as a Tiffany bow models the company uses to sell the blue box dream. But before we can ponder upon this we must hear again from the man who sang Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even though he no longer remembers the words.
More than anything Crazy About Tiffany’s resembles an E! True Hollywood Story with a network sponsor as its subject matter. Consider the tone E! adopts when discussing anything Kardashian, throw in a Topshop Radio sound track, a sales catalogue and a photo of Steve Jobs’ favourite lamp and you have a good approximation. Light relief is provided by Jennifer Tilly and a pleasingly sarcastic stylist but neither can mask such flaws.