The fact that Paloma Picasso grew up as the child of Pablo, appearing in a spate of the iconic artist’s paintings, clearly influenced her approach to personal style. With a penchant for graphic details and shapes, and textures that are reminiscent of Old World Europe (think: heavy beading, shapely lace, bolero-style capes and striking red blazers that resemble a matador’s uniform), she played a starring role in the 1980s style scene in New York City and abroad. I remember the first time I saw a photo of her a few years ago: I became obsessed with the effortless way she carried herself; I’d never seen someone pull off prints and embroidery in such a modern way. And while there will always be an ever-changing roster of new street-style girls, it’s Paloma I look to when I feel my own personal style verging on lackluster.
Her close friends included a mix of artists, fashion designers, and socialites, such as Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent. And as a jewelry designer herself, she fit right in with this cast of characters. She began her career in Paris, designing jewelry for small theater productions. Yves Saint Laurent quickly took notice of her work and commissioned her to design the accessories for his collections in the early ’70s. After that, she took on a stint of creating pieces for Greek jewelry house Zolates before finally landing at Tiffany’s, where her pieces are still produced today.
Her hallmark accessory styles can almost instantly be recognized as her own: graffiti-like gestures, dove motifs (“Paloma” translates to “dove” in Spanish), bold gemstones, and traditional silver styles with an unexpected twist—all very similar to her own sense of personal style. She loved a dramatic hat and also knew the power of having a signature look, once stating, “Red lips have become my signature, so when I don’t want to be recognized, I don’t wear it.” She even designed her own lipstick shade with L’Oreal, dubbed Mon Rouge—a neon-red classic that frequently sold out.
If there’s one piece of advice we can extrapolate from Paloma’s style, it’s the importance of having at least one fashion motif that never fails. For her, it was the color red and an attraction to bold, graphic prints.
In all of Paloma’s old photos, she appears poised, but still collectively chic and eclectic. It’s the kind of style that today’s It-girl influencers could all take a cue from—unconventional cool that’s unmatched by anyone else with a no-fear attitude toward opposing the mainstream trends.
Click through to see the evolution of Paloma Picasso’s style, from bold prints to leopard-print coats.