Schooled in Style

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SCAD Style kicks off with a lesson in celebrating style from Tiffany & Co.’s design director.  Take notes.  

What gives certain styles their timeless quality?

We’ll find out the answer to this question and more when SCAD Style kicks off with Richard Lambertson, design director for Tiffany & Co.   The veteran tastemaker will sit down with Carmela Spinelli, SCAD’s fashion chair, April 15, at 11:30 a.m. at the SCAD Museum of Art, for a free-to-the-public conversation as part of SCAD’s week-long celebration of good design and good taste.





As director of design at Tiffany, Richard is responsible for the sterling company’s chic handbags and accessories, ubiquitous among celebrity clients such as Zoe Saldana and Jennifer Anniston.  He is known for his uniquely American design vision—unprecedented in the accessories field—which has earned Richard shared honors as the CFDA‘s (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Accessories Designer of the Year and the ACE Award for Design Excellence.  Prior to Tiffany, Richard helped re-launch the Gucci brand as the venerable house’s design director, and he was the CEO of Geoffrey Beene.   In anticipation of his Creative Coast confab, Savannah magazine asked Richard for a preview.

SM: What is your definition of “style?”

Richard: To me, “style” is a lack of conformity.  It is something you are born with.  Style can be cultivated, but true style is innate!   “Fashion fades; only style remains the same.” -Coco Chanel

SM: When it comes to style, is there a right and a wrong?

Richard: I don’t think there is right or wrong at all—only good taste and bad taste … and sometimes it takes a little bit of both!

SM: Is style something that can be taught or is it innate?  Were you taught it—by a mentor, a family member?

Richard: Although I truly think that style is innate, it can be cultivated.  Look at pictures of people we’ve known over the years—some have never changed their style, while others have grown into their personal style.

I grew up in a very simple family—my style didn’t come from there, but I was very fortunate to meet people along the way that appreciated my style and taught me about things in life that change my world.  Geoffrey Beene was one of those people. He made me look at my surroundings and see things I took for granted—the humble and the chic.  I traveled the world with him and saw things that changed my life.  I don’t think a day goes by that I’m not reminded of him and what I learned from working with him.  He changed my eye on the world.

SM: Whose style do you most admire (living or dead) and why?

Richard: My style icons are as follows (in no particular order): Isadora Duncan, Diana Veerland, Coco Chanel, Steven Tenant and Isabella Blow.  They all had similar things in common.  They all lived life to the fullest and stayed true to their unique style.  They created lives for themselves and never deviated from that path.  Living icons?  They are few and far between for me—everyone seems be playing dress up today.

SM: Style is often spoken about as “IN” or “OUT.”  What would you say is something that has enduring style?  Something that transcends the trend waves and is always in vogue?

Richard: I think style is never in or out!  Style is something that transcends trends.  Style is a life choice and a way of living.  It can’t be bought, only borrowed.

SM: What do you think of Savannah style?

Richard: I have always been drawn to the South and people from the south.  To sum it up in one word:  CHARM!

Photography courtesy of the Savannah College of Art and Design.