As the daughter of one of the twentieth century's most influential artists, Paloma Picasso (born 1949) hesitated to enter the world of design. She did not want to be compared to her father, nor did she relish the unavoidable notoriety his name would provide. Once she began to show the jewelry she created for Zolotas of Greece in 1971, however, critics were genuinely impressed.
The success of the pieces Picasso produced for Tiffany & Company encouraged Picasso to design and market items ranging from fashion accessories to china. These items, including eyewear, cosmetics, and leather goods, may be identified by their bold shapes and brilliant colors, and are sold and appreciated throughout the world. Picasso's face is just as easily recognized. Posing in glossy magazine advertisements with her perfume, Paloma Picasso, the designer is, according to Hispanic, "her own best model." While Pablo Picasso transformed aesthetic standards in the fine arts, his trend-setting daughter has independently introduced fresh perspectives in fashion design.
Born April 19, 1949, Paloma Picasso has always been surrounded by art and artists. Pablo Picasso, the Spanish painter who was instrumental in the development of cubism, and Françoise Gilot, the French painter, named their daughter after the "paloma, " or dove, that Picasso had created for the posters announcing an International Peace Conference in Paris, France.
As a teenager developing her own tastes and styles, Paloma Picasso was reluctant to pursue artistic goals. "In the beginning, I tried not to think that I would have to do anything artistic, " she related in Hispanic. "From the time I was fourteen, I stopped drawing completely. … I thought, 'I don't want to become a painter like my father, ' but I didn't know what else I wanted to become." Picasso's urge to create soon surpassed her hesitation; she began to study jewelry design and fabrication while still in her teens.
Personal and Business Partnership with Lopez-Cambil
After the elder Picasso died, Paloma Picasso lost interest in designing. "I had given up designing when my father died in 1973, " she recounted to the New York Times. "I didn't feel like doing anything. I just looked at all the paintings, and there was the sense of being overwhelmed." Picasso's father had left no will, and his illegitimate children, Paloma, her brother Claude, and her half-sister Maya, brought suit for their share of the estate, which was valued at $250 million. When Paloma Picasso finally won her share of the inheritance, which was estimated to be close to $90 million, she chose some of her father's works. As the French government had also received a huge sum and a collection of works as taxes from the estate, Picasso consented to assist it in the creation of the Musée Picasso in Paris.
Although Picasso had temporarily given up designing, she began another artistic endeavor. She starred in a motion picture that won the Prix de l'Age d'Or, 1974's Immoral Tales (Contes Immorreaux). Directed by Walerian Borowczyk, the movie was praised by critics, and Picasso's performance as a Hungarian countess with eccentric sexual desires was met with enthusiasm. The New York Times reported, "Paloma Picasso, the late Pablo's daughter … has a magnificent figure and a face as beautiful as her father's drawings from his classical period." While Picasso has not since pursued acting, she has often expressed her hope to portray the designer Coco Chanel in a motion picture.
Picasso met the Argentine playwright and director Rafael Lopez-Cambil (known by his pen name, Rafael Lopez-Sanchez) after her father's death. When she began to work again, it was for Lopez-Cambil; Picasso designed the sets for some of his productions. The relationship between Picasso and Lopez-Cambil became personal, and the couple married in 1978.
The wedding was an event. Wearing a red, black, and white Yves St. Laurent original for the ceremony, and a heart-shaped, red, Karl Lagerfeld gown for the disco reception, Picasso once again excited the fashion world. The New York Times stated that during these years, Paloma Picasso had become "something of a muse to Paris couturiers, " and especially to the designers of her wedding gowns. The petite woman had once again impressed the design world.
Association with Tiffany & Company
In 1980, John Loring, senior vice-president of Tiffany & Company, asked Picasso to create jewelry for the company. "When Tiffany's asked me about doing jewelry, I was thrilled, " Picasso told the New York Times. She had always wanted to design for an American store. "I went into all the great jewelry shops of Paris. They are so grand, the salespeople seem to look down on you. As a customer you feel threatened. Tiffany is a great place because all kinds of people come in, just like Woolworth's." The company was equally enthusiastic about Picasso, whose pieces are priced from just over $100 to $500, 000. Loring spoke of her in Hispanic, "Paloma has taken the gaudiness out of jewelry but kept the glitter, " and Henry B. Platt, Tiffany's president, proudly exclaimed in Newsweek that "for the first time, people can hold a Picasso in their hands and try it on."
Brilliant gems framed in blocks of gold, large stones or metal pendants on simple cords, and gold or silver "hugs and kisses" ("X's" and "O's") are characteristic of Picasso's work. Unusual combinations of pearls, vibrant semi-precious stones, and metals are also prominent. Although her creations portend a new aesthetic for jewelry, Picasso, commented Newsweek, "rejects fine-art pretensions." The designer told the magazine, "This [jewelry] is something people can wear, rather than hanging it on the wall or putting it on the table. I like things to be used." In the New York Times, Picasso remarked that while "jewelry should be jewelry, something that you wear, " it "is more permanent, less superficial than fashion." Picasso continues to design fabulous jewelry for Tiffany & Company. Her tenth anniversary collection, which was presented in 1990, was described in Mirabella magazine as "having the raw power of just-cut stones and just-mined minerals. Her gems are deep pools of color hung on thick veins of gold."
Collaborated with Husband on Fragrance Development
In 1984 the plan to reinforce the Paloma Picasso image began with her fragrance, "Paloma Picasso." It seemed natural for her and her husband to come up with Paloma's own designer scent; Picasso's grandfather, Emile Gilot, was a chemist and perfume manufacturer.
With his experience in the theater, Lopez-Cambil carefully developed the fragrance project. He came up with a particular image for Picasso, which culminated in one of the most well known advertisements in the world, photographed by Richard Avedon, whereby Paloma Picasso the person was inextricably linked to Paloma Picasso the brand. As a couple and a team, this particular partnership had the advantage of a brilliant artistic director and a gifted designer.
Picasso, who habitually clothed herself in red, black, and gold, stated in Vogue that the perfume resembles herself: "What you see is what you get. I wanted my fragrance to be like that too." She made a similar remark in the New York Post when she announced that her perfume, which is priced at over $150.00 an ounce, is a "fragrance for a strong woman like myself." Picasso extended her fragrance collection and produced her signature lipstick, Mon Rouge, which escalated to her hallmark color, also know as Paloma Red.
Expanded Picasso Image
The continual success of Paloma and Rafael's ventures encouraged them to broaden their creative horizons even further. In 1987 Rafael expanded the Paloma Picasso image by creating a New York City-based company, Lopez-Cambil Ltd., to produce and distribute Paloma Picasso accessories—handbags, belts, umbrellas, and small leather goods—to be imported from Italy. This collection, labeled as Couture accessories, gained international notoriety for its flawless quality and impeccable design, which fueled the creation of their relatively less-expensive line, entitled "By Paloma Picasso." Both casual and elegant, this collection allows Picasso to reach a larger audience, with a comprehensive range of contemporary, affordable accessories, which constitutes a fast-growing part of the company.
In 1992 the men's fragrance Minotaure was launched with great success. Picasso designed the bottle and packaging, while Lopez-Cambil developed the concept, the name, and the cologne's first advertising campaign.
In addition to Paloma Picasso boutiques in Japan and Hong Kong, Picasso's accessories are available throughout the United States, Europe, and the Far East. Paloma Picasso creations in Europe also include cosmetics and fragrances for L'Oreal in France, sunglasses and optical frames for a German company, hosiery for Grupo Synkro in Mexico, and bed ensembles, towels, bathrobes, and dressing gowns for KBC in Germany. As in the United States, home design has become a new era of creation for Paloma Picasso, with collections of bone china, crystal, silver, and tiles for Villeroy & Boch and fabrics and wall coverings for Motif.
Further Reading on Paloma Picasso
Harper's Bazaar, December 1989, pp. 144-50; January 1991, pp. 123-26.
Hispanic, October 1988, p. 36; December 1988, pp. 28-33; May 1991, pp. 20-26.
House and Garden, November 1990, pp. 236-76.
House Beautiful, February 1989, pp. 103-104.
Mirabella, November 1990; December 1990.
Newsmakers, Volume 1, Detroit, Gale Research, 1991, pp. 89-92.
Newsweek, October 20, 1980, p. 69.
New York Post, March 26, 1984.
New York Times, March 11, 1976; June 9, 1980, p. B16; April 22, 1990, p. S38.
New York Times Magazine, April 22, 1990, p. 38.
Vogue, April 1981, pp. 229-31; December 1985, pp. 318-31; January 1990, pp. 190-97.
Working Woman, October 1990, pp. 140-45.
Additional information for this profile was provided by a Lopez-Cambil Ltd. biography of Paloma Picasso, 1995.