In 1853, Charles Tiffany put a nine-foot bronzed statue above the entrance of the Tiffany & Co. store at 550 Broadway in New York City. The now-iconic Atlas structure, featuring a mystical man with a clock on his shoulder, let busy passersby know what time it was. Tiffany was the first brand to put a clock outside its store, and New Yorkers took notice, even setting their watches to match the ticking of the Atlas.
Now, local Vancouverites rushing along Burrard Street can experience something similar. The newly reopened Tiffany boutique at the corner of Burrard and Alberni has its own nine-foot Atlas statue proudly displayed outside its second level. “We were able to bring Mr. Atlas to Vancouver,” says Tiffany & Co. group vice-president Wendy Eagan, seated inside one of Tiffany Vancouver’s new private shopping rooms. It’s less than an hour before the VIP opening gala, and special guest performer Chantal Kreviazuk can be heard sound-checking with her piano upstairs. But despite the excitement and the bustle, there is an air of calm about the place—sunlight streams in the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, washing the double grand staircase in a golden glow; glass cases displaying an array of sparkling jewellery are shiny and pristine; plush seating areas are set just so. This sure is a nice space in which to try on some jewels.
“There’s no better way to look at jewellery than in natural light,” says Eagan. “We all know the stores that we like to go into: it’s the people that make it fantastic, which they should, and the beautiful things that you’re looking at, of course—but if it smells funny or the temperature isn’t right or the light isn’t right, you just want to go. So we took a lot of that into consideration.” Indeed, this store—spanning nearly 10,000 square-feet—is majestic and elegant, bright and graceful. Nodding to the Art Deco skyscrapers of 1930s and ‘40s New York, the exterior granite façade also features that classic blue awning and whimsical halo-lit signage. Eagan sees the store’s massive transformation as a reaffirmation of Tiffany’s commitment to the Vancouver market (the brand is celebrating 10 years in the city). “I think that this customer has had to jump the border for far too long,” she says. “We, I think, were one of the first brands that recognized that and acted on it, and look what’s happening: it’s obviously a great place for luxury. It’s a very sophisticated customer here who’s worldly, who’s well travelled.” And who, thanks to Mr. Atlas, will always be on time.
Read more jewellery and watch stories here.