Hitchcock Heroine Tippi Hedren on Her Jewelry Collection and Her Latest Role With Gucci

Tippi Hedren Gucci Campaign - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Colin Dodgson

The star appears in the Italian label’s latest watch and jewelry campaign.

Tippi Hedren would never consider herself a minimalist when it comes to jewelry, which is one of the reasons she loved appearing in Gucci’s latest ad campaign.

“I’m not a minimalist in anything,” says the actress. “I have way too many clothes and jewelry and bags, all colorful, all quite different from the next, and I love a lot of bling on my wardrobe. I think it helps keep you young and surprising. Although I’m in my late 80s, I certainly don’t let age dictate anything I wear, be it fashion or jewelry.”

Best known as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic blondes, having starred in 1963’s The Birds and 1964’s Marnie, the 88-year-old Hedren has mostly eschewed the spotlight in recent years, preferring to devote her time to Shambala Preserve. Located 40 miles north of Los Angeles in Acton, the 72-acre animal sanctuary primarily cares for exotic big cats born in captivity; it’s largely funded by The Roar Foundation, the nonprofit organization Hedren founded in 1983 to support the preserve. She’s lived on the property since 1976.

But when Gucci came calling with an idea for her to play a role in its new watch and jewelry campaign, Hedren says she was intrigued, for one key reason. “Rarely do companies of any kind approach older actors to appear in such a high-profile campaign,” she explains. “I applaud Gucci for the creativeness and especially for thinking of me! I appreciated the offer.”

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele conceptualized the campaign print images and 89-second video, titled “The Fortune Teller,” which were lensed by SoCal-born photographer and director Colin Dodgson. They portray Hedren as the titular psychic in a shabby-chic storefront in L.A., where she is visited by a quartet of stylish models seeking palm readings. “I love the fact that it told a story and I was able to play a character,” she says. “It is sometimes easier to put yourself in a role, especially when you are an actress, than play yourself.”

Hedren, of course, is also the mother of Melanie Griffith and grandmother of Dakota Johnson, and the latter’s appearance in a 2017 campaign for the brand also helped seal the deal: “The campaign [Dakota] did for Gucci Bloom was also very unique and seemed to fit her personality well,” Hedren adds.

Michele’s latest concept also was tailor-made for imagery, highlighting hands and wrists laden with Gucci jewelry and watches. Hedren became enamored with one piece in particular: the Ouroboros multifinger ring in 18-karat yellow gold, embellished with sapphires, topaz and white and black diamonds, which can be most clearly seen in images of Hedren with her hands on a crystal ball. “[The ring] went across all four fingers of my hand, rather like a snake,” she remembers. “I loved that piece, and the smaller rings they matched with it were ideal.”

Another favorite from the shoot: the caftanlike gown she wore, designed by Michele as part of Gucci’s Pre-Fall 2018 collection. “It had tigers on it, and, as you know, the big cats have been my passion for some 50 years,” says Hedren, who refers to herself as the “den mother” of Shambala Preserve.

Hedren demurs when asked if her own collection includes a lot of Gucci. “I have a very eclectic collection of jewelry, with many designers,” she says. “As with fashion, I don’t wear a lot of any one designer. I just purchase what I fall in love with.”

But her all-time favorite piece of jewelry? That’s an easy answer. Hedren, who had already established herself as a model in the 1950s, famously was “discovered” by Hitchcock when the legendary director spotted her in a TV commercial in 1961. After meeting to discuss a role in his next film, she was invited to join “Hitch” and his wife, Alma Reville, for dinner at Chasen’s, the classic, now-closed Beverly Boulevard hotspot known for catering to A-listers. “There he presented me with a golden box, which I opened, and it was a gold pin of three birds adorned with seed pearls,” Hedren recalls. “It was at that moment that he told me he was casting me as the lead in The Birds. There were tears from everyone at the table, especially me. I treasure that pin.” The piece is kept in a vault, she adds, and worn only “on very special occasions.”

Ultimately, Hedren’s appearance in Gucci’s watch and jewelry campaign also is notable simply because acting no longer holds much interest for her. “I am at the time in my life when I have done almost everything I wanted to do,” Hedren says. “My constant work here at the preserve to care for my rescued and abandoned big cats fills my days now. I doubt that I will do much work in the motion-picture business or television again, and I suppose that is why this commercial was such a special offer.”