Egyptian Revival YSL Necklace sells for $8,000

Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company Image. See complete listing here.

This necklace was quite frankly stunning and a great example of the 70s Egyptian Revival style.  It was part of the Fall Couture Fashion and Textile Auction held by Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company.  Here is a link to some of the lots sold during the November 28-29th auction.

Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company Image. Fortuny Delphos Gown. Sold lot.

Their vintage couture and designer auctions have some must have items for the serious collector. Examples like 1950s Christian Dior, French 1920s Couture and a Fortuny Delphos  1930s Gown
appeared on the block. 
Stunning as the YSL necklace is I don’t think anyone expected it realize same price that of the Delphos gown was estimated to sell for that day. I know I was not prepared for the final price when the gavel hit-$8,000!

Now I had my eye on this particular piece and actually purchased some others items from them for my store/collection.  That said the original auction estimate was around $250 which did not seem unreasonable until you look closer.  From what I know of YSL there were the designer level pieces made by Monet for YSL with a cut out YSL in the horizontal box, the signed and numbered or Limited edition items and then couture jewelry. Tag style of course letting you in on which is which. However, tags are not always the whole story as this tag below can be on couture and non couture pieces. Many of the haute couture pieces confirmed my same collector source have no tag. Whatever the reason for the sale price, I was stunned at that necklace and many other wonderful vintage pieces of fashion that day. After speaking to a very knowledgeable collector of YSL jewelry she confirmed it was haute couture and very special having obvious influence from the African collection. She also was pretty sure if “something YSL goes that high the Yves Saint Laurent foundation is probably bidding”. See the link for more on the auction company and their upcoming events. As of now the November 2012 auction is up but this link will be updated closer to the next sale. 

Close up image of tag. Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company Image.

Estate Jewelry and The Country

 

 Antique Cameos, J.E. Heaton Jewelers. Joyce always seems to have a good selection.

Outside the limits of New York city exists a world called the Hudson Valley, rolling farms, horses, artists, and the ever enduring river. About an hour and half from NYC, is Millbrook a sleepy little town with the cutest historic village and a relaxed way of life. It boasts “Horse country” estates, locals, and New Yorkers trying to escape into that slower pace.  This is where we find J. E. Heaton jewelers.

 

1940s Fur Clip, Earrings, and ring/ 14K and Citrine, rubies.

This woman owned business in the heart of the village, brings a refreshing mix of older, custom, as well as new fine quality pieces.  Joyce is descended from store owners in a way, ( she has an interesting historic image hanging up of the Heaton Shoes store circa 1900.  Her store has a boutique feel with a clean aesthetic and a quite well curated estate section. This section’s focus seems to be that of the art deco period and the Victorian.She can often be caught wearing stunning Victorian gold pieces from her own collection.  She both finds and well as consigns these unique estate pieces from local families and other sources.

 

Victorian Gold examples from the shop, last image shows cuff links transformed into earrings.

She can often be caught wearing stunning Victorian gold pieces from her own collection.  She both finds and well as consigns these unique estate pieces from local families and other sources.

Group of three late Victorian bouquet diamond pins.

Her eye for quality pieces is obvious when looking at her vintage Taxco items, Victorian gold, Edwardian and art deco diamonds. She was even lucky enough to have sold many diamond pieces from the estate of a real Ziegfeld gal.

Bracelet, art deco 20s example from the private collection of a Ziegfeld Follies  girl’s descendant.

It was her personal array of Victorian pieces she often modeled, that led me to ask where her love of estate and Victorian fine pieces came from? She wanted to answer that question in the form of a letter to her mother which paints a lovely and personal view concerning how her eye for the pieces was molded.

Dear Momma,

I am so thankful for everything you gave me, including your love of jewelry.

One of my earliest memories is of you getting dressed to go to a party. I climbed on top of the big bed and watched, fascinated by all the doings of adults. With your hair done up, and your makeup on, you carefully lifted an evening gown over your head, letting it fall gracefully. On went the heels. A final primping, and then a quick spritz of hair spray followed by perfume. Then it happened: THE drawer was opened. Out came a series of the most magnificent, shiny adornments I’d ever seen. One by one you put them in place and checked your reflection in the mirror, smiling softly as you looked at me watching you.

When I was eight, you gave me a real gold ring with a garnet. I loved the way it looked. I loved that it made me feel grown up. I took that ring off when I was carving my Halloween pumpkin that year and lost it among the orange innards, never to be found again. We looked for days and days.

When I was fifteen years old, you gave me an unusual ring from the safe. It had belonged to a long ago family member. It was a gold band with sections cut out of it, like a pie crust. Barely visible inside was woven hair. I’d never seen anything like it… I was intrigued by the use of hair as a remembrance of a loved one. Why did they do this? How did they do this?

When I was seventeen, you came home from the Pleasant Valley Auction Hall with a beautiful gold bracelet. It was made up of links that became a Chinese dragon, with a ruby in the eye. I was dazzled by the beauty and artistry of the piece. It was a moment when I knew we shared the same taste.

Christmas one year you gave me a Victorian love knot ring with a tiny turquoise stone in the center. I loved the intricate way the loops of gold fell over each other. Later that year, for my eighteenth birthday, you gave me a Victorian engagement ring. It had an unusually cut stone (which I now know was an old mine cut), held in place by regal looking prongs. Inside were the initials of my great-grandmother, Lavinia Ida Pray and her husband-to-be, Charles Duncan. I feel as though they are with me when I wear that ring.

Dearest Momma, is it any wonder I love what you loved? When I look at fine estate jewelry it takes me back to the joyful moments we shared. I only wish you were here now to see what your love has lead to…

Thank you.

Joyce from J.E. Heaton Jewelers, Inc.

Art Deco Diamond engagement ring, J.E. Heaton Jewelers. 

Frida Kahlo’s Dresses, Jewelry, and Mexican Vogue

 

Yes, this actually happened. Frida Kahlo’s jewelry and personal wardrobe was kept sealed until now….

Pieza de Oaxaca, ca. 1932. Via Museo Frida Kahlo website.

“When Kahlo passed just after her 47th birthday, her husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera, began placing her most personal belongings into a bathroom of their Mexico City house. Upon Rivera’s death in 1957, their home, also known as La Casa Azul or “The Blue House,” became the Museo Frida Kahlo. But shortly before Rivera died, he gave instructions to a close personal friend, Dolores Olmedo, that the room containing Frida’s wardrobe should stay locked for the next 15 years. Olmedo took Rivera’s request so seriously that she ultimately decided to keep the room sealed until her own death” (Collector’s Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford).

A selection of native Tehuana looks on view at the Museo Frida Kahlo exhibition. Photo by Miguel Tovar.

The exhibit, Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo tells the story in visual splendor! How did I miss this? I mean it started November 2012…. I am obsessed with how Frida used gender and indigenous identity in her clothing and jewelry. I really relate to that style. The Collector’s weekly article about the exhibit and Frida’s uncovered wardrobe/jewelry was riveting, so even if you thought you missed the exhibit (THEY HAVE EXTENDED IT UNTIL SEPT 2014) or can’t make it to the blue house- it’s a great read:

The book which covers the photographs taken as they unpacked her belongings, 

Frida by Ishiuchi, can be preordered now.  The items in Frida’s closet are currently on display at her museum and former home, La Casa Azul in Mexico City. The exhibition is a partnership between Vogue Mexico and the museum.

Here is to hoping that the exhibit will make it to the United States and we can get a glimpse into the alluring and complex mind of Frida Kahlo through her clothing and accessories.  I cannot bear to think about the jewelry!

Image Vogue Mexico.

1960s Fashion and Accessories Images: Harper’s Bazaar March 1967

Neal Barr Cover image for Harper’s Bazaar, restored here and scanned.

Many fashion buffs enjoy historic magazine and fashion photographs.  During my collecting of these pieces for my vintage jewelry/accessories archive, I ran across the March 1967 Harper’s Bazaar magazine! The Neal Barr cover is visually stunning from the earrings to the graphic Burke-Amey dress. Not to mention the mod images of couture, watches, jewelry, and shoes found inside. I am thinking as of now of enlarging and printing my restored version of the cover. I will be including specific vintage images of jewelry and watches as usual on my instagram account. However, I wanted to put together a visual feast from the magazine for my readers:

Silk lined Halston hat, Malcom Marshall dress. All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue for educational historical use.
Catherine Speak, Vendome mod watch. All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
1960s Movado watch, Mod Tire design.All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
Oscar de la Renta diamante prance suit. Like body jewelry!All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
Yves Saint Laurent, Jeweled short jumper. Shell and beads. All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
Charles Jourdan Mod shoes and tights, 1967.All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
Silk turban and dress, Halston.All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.
Mod Penn- Carol tights and lingerie by Fischer. All images scanned from the vintage Harper’s Bazaar March 1967 issue.

De Young Museum Presents: Bulgari, A Vision of Art, Jewelry and Heritage

                                  

What comes to mind when one hears, Bulgari? The name has become synonymous with high-end jewelry. In fact, there seems to be no comparison for the standard the Italian company has set in the fine jewelry market. For over a century, Bulgari has epitomized fine jewelry making and maintained the balance of exuberance and class.

Image of exhibit entrance. Image Nathan Brandon.

The sumptuous jewels characterized by a casual formality are what curator, Amanda Triossi, calls (and many would agree), “…the essence of Italian style at large.” The exhibit currently on display at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, showcases vintage pieces from La Dolce Vita—literally translated “the sweet life”—from 1950 to 1990. This includes a room entirely dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor’s private collection, each sparkle from quarter inch diamonds a testament to the power and grace of women who held the world on a string and a pound of emeralds and diamonds around her neck.

Image of the Elizabeth Taylor banner at museum exhibit.

The pieces on display take the viewer on a journey through decades of Bulagri’s distinct interpretation of culture, visual language, and a fantasy world of all that glitters. Each diamond, each sapphire, and each ruby collected is of the highest grade, outsourced from the far reaches of the globe, and each piece constructed by the hands of the best jewelers. With an estimated one thousand hours of work per piece and an impending final inspection that could result in melting the piece back down to the drawing board, the result becomes mystical. To be face-to-face with these emblems of beauty is dream-like and inconceivable. One begins to realize what one is looking at is not simply high-end jewelry: it is truly art. 

Custom no flash exhibit images created by Nathan Brandon.

There are the earlier pieces which hold true to Parisian high jewelry standards: one type of precious stone employed individually with platinum and never mixed with others. Then there are the the early sixties pieces where Bulgari —among a young and vibrant style revolution—began to mix and match. We see the classic cabochon (smooth, round finish on gemstones) mixed high and low. Color is used as if it were a paint and there is no longer the strong concern with the individual intrinsic value of the gemstones. What counts is the ultimate effect, for example turquoise next to diamonds. The recurring ingredients of the Bulgari style in a 1967 necklace—color, cabochon, compact shape, mounted in yellow gold, and featuring emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and sapphires —combine to create the effect of a peacock tail of jewels. 

Playing Card sautoir, 1972. Bulgari Heritage Collection. Image Antonio Barrella Studio.

 

Known today as the Keira Knightly necklace, it’s a piece that is proof that regardless of era the timelessness of their design is confirmed. In another room, Bulgari dances with the unique relationship between jewels and other art forms. For example, the coin jewelry of Bulgari derives its inspiration from post-modernist architecture, like the Philip Johnson AT&T building of 1982, which ends in a classic greek pediment. We see sleek modern cuff bracelets and sautoir, or long necklaces, of gold and silver set with roman coins. The past and the present merge. Of everything on display, there are two pieces that speak the loudest; two gifts from Elizabeth Taylor’s fifth husband, Richard Burton, each worn extensibly by Elizabeth both on and off screen. The first jewel she received from Burton, is a spectacular broach of 23.44 carrots surrounded by diamonds that she received on the set of Cleopatra. 

Elizabeth Taylor brooch, image created by Nathan Brandon.

As a wedding gift, she also received a luxurious emerald and diamond necklace to which the broach can be attached as a centerpiece. The other pièce de résistance, which acted as the poster image for the exhibit, is an art deco inspired sautoir made in 1972 and gifted as a fortieth birthday gift with matching ring. This piece is set with a very fine Burmese sapphire of 57.5 carrots and is characteristically Bulgari with the cabochon rounded effect. Beyond its initial splendor it is unique in creation because from the 60s onward Bulgari used mainly yellow gold to set their jewels. This platinum sautoir harkens back to the original days of high Parisian influence. 

Emerald and diamond necklace, belonging to Elizabeth Taylor. Image created by Nathan Brandon.
Elizabeth Taylor Burmese sapphire necklace. Image created by Nathan Brandon.


Whether you are just a casual observer or a modern day queen of the Nile, it is plain to see the extraordinary diversity and creative power of Bulgari. From 1950 to 1990, what is clear is that Bulgari has been able to respond to changing times and remain true to itself, which as an artist is one the greatest challenges faced. It’s easy to see why according to Richard Burton, “The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari.” 

Exhibit Catalogue available for purchase here.

Lecture material and subject property of the De Young Museum:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE AUDIO RECORDING OF THE EXHIBIT LECTURE PRESENTED AT THE MUSEUM:

De Young Museum image, courtesy of Nathan Brandon.


 Writer: Habibi Winter Editor: Nathan Brandon, M.A. Exclusive photos credit: Nathan Brandon, M.A.

 

***ORIGINALLY Published 12/14/13 –

The Costume Jewelry Collection of Barbara Berger: Taking on the World of Fashion Jewelry

Trifari, 40s Fruit Salad Bracelet.PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

What attracts us wearers and collectors of jewelry to costume pieces? Many important costume jewelry collections are owned by those who can certainly afford the real thing, Barbara herself was the daughter of a diamond merchant/jeweler.   One is free to re-imagine themselves when they wear it. That is why I wear it and the bigger the better. I personally have always thought why wear jewelry if you can’t enjoy it or see it?  I love ethnic designs/statement pieces and Iris Apfel has always been an icon to me. I came to find out this adoration of the statement piece and Iris, I also shared with Barbara as well. Costume jewelry lets the design and intention really shine. As Barbara pointed out, “the construction is often similar to that of fine pieces”, She painted an image to me during her talk, that she feels there seems to be no bounds to it and that it sort of is freeing or liberating. 

Elsa Schiaparelli, 1938.Ostrich pendants. Circus collection.PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

Barbara Berger has put together one amazing collection and David McFadden, Chief Curator, and Harrice Simons Miller, Guest Curator along with Dorothy Globus, Curator of Exhibitions have organized one stunning show.  Harrice Simons Miller is a consultant to Christies and was brought in to appraise and catalog Elizabeth Taylor’s costume jewelry as well. She wrote the first book I ever bought about collecting and valuing costume jewelry. Collectors may also remember her fab book on Kenneth Jay Lane jewelry!

Miriam Haskell, late 50s example from the Berger collection. Also featured in Miriam Haskell Jewelry by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff. It is a sort of Haskell holy grail piece. PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

Barbara’s life work and passion spoke for themselves at the opening and her discussion with the curators at MAD museum New York. This collection has never been shown in the United States.  I was there, practically running in, as the doors opened on the show.  The full scale of her archive reaches beyond 4,000 pieces and growing. The exhibition houses 450 well chosen iconic examples including jewelry by: Lanvin, Miriam Haskell, Valentino, Coppola e Toppo, Pucci, Kenneth Jay Lane, Countess Zoltowska/Cis, Oscar de La Renta, Mimi Di N. Balenciaga, Maison Gripoix, Marcel Boucher, Trifari, Pierre Cardin, Chanel (she owns one of the most important collection of Chanel jewelry),David Mandel, Lawrence Vrba, Iradj Moini,Joseff-Hollywood, Robert Sorrell, Elsa Schiaparelli and many more. The list includes fantastic vintage examples and recent new designers.  If you are a collector or wearer you may have become a little dizzy at the thought, I know I did when I entered the show. I was literally drunk on jewelry from costume to couture to everything in between.

Chanel feather necklace, Barbara Berger collection. Sarara Vintage image.

Barbara, began collecting after her mother’s death at about age 13. She acquired Chanel earrings at a Parisian flea market. They reminded them of her mother, her style, essence and way of putting herself together.  From the beginning, you can see that fashion jewelry meant something to her on a personal level. She remembers where she got each piece and their stories.  She falls in love with the presence and aesthetic of each example of the jewelry she purchases for the collection. It has to speak to her, be a statement piece, scale and size matters….. She made it clear at her talk that she doesn’t just buy a piece for the collection because it is signed, it has to have that something that makes it great.  She wasn’t focused on the history but the essence.  She even admits that for the exhibit she left the historical research to Harrice.  

As Barbara stated at the “All the Brilliant Facets” talk:

“The size of the jewelry is important, because jewelry gives a woman power, it has to be dramatic. A woman has to feel she can take on the world.  I collect dream jewelry”. (Barbara Berger, All the Brilliant Facets”).

Mimi Di N, 60s-70s. PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva


Barbara’s passion as well as creative insight
 can be seen through this very extensive collection. She will be donating some examples to the 
Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle, permanent archives in NYC. Now with the publication of Fashion Jewelry the Collection of Barbara Berger, published by Assouline,  Barbara has a beautifully photographed accompaniment to the exhibition. I purchased a signed copy of the book at the exhibit and it is indeed a visual feast.

Cover jewelry by Daniel Von Weinberger, 2008-9.PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

During her talk at Mad on Thursday, she and the rest of the panel involved, including Harrice, illuminated the history of the collection and how it was organized.  Harrice’s story of how costume jewelry, as a phrase, was born through Hobe’s relationship with costume design/film was interesting. “It was jewelry for the costumes, made for Florenz Ziegfeld”  she said.  Barbara also painted a colorful story of her life through jewelry.  Many of her friends, interesting comrades, and fellow jewelry lovers were present. Designers whose jewelry is in the exhibition Iradj Mioni, David Mandel and Robert Sorrell were counted among the attendees.  Iradj and Robert were very interesting to talk to in their own right and I can see why Barbara counts them among friends.  It was clear the designers themselves are important to her, as she included living and contemporary makers in the exhibit. The show represents around 80 designers.  She wore stunning large Iradj earrings and one of her own designs in the form of a brooch pictured below, as she talked to the audience. 

Barbara Berger, left with me before the discussion, image Sarara Vintage
Chanel piece from the Mad Museum exhibit. Berger collection. Sarara Vintage image.

Barbara’s credo spoken at the talk was to mix fine with costume jewelry and to try to always wear earrings. “Ears are a very sexy part of a woman’s body”.   She mused about the hunt, the creation of her collection, and the genius of Miriam Haskell. 

Frank Hess, Miriam Haskell 1954.PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

                                                                   The Exhibit:

Entry way image, contemporary designer body armor style necklace. Sarara Vintage image.
William DeLillo necklace, vintage 1969. From the exhibit. Image Sarara Vintage.
Exhibit entrance, displays. Sarara Vintage, rights reserved.
Pucci by Coppola e Toppo necklaces, 1960s. Sarara Vintage image.

My impression from the beginning was that they created a jewelry show that relayed the history and passion of costume and fashion. The displays were so well done, hanging examples in cases allowed one to see the pieces from all angles, large necklaces were hand knotted onto plum backdrops and hung seamlessly, cases allowed the pieces to be viewed without distraction or clutter.  There were even drawers full, a bonus selection to look through so to speak, covered in lucite cases. I do want to make it clear that the pieces in the drawer are not part of Barbara’s collection, which was also mentioned to me at the talk as well.  They belong to the museum’s permanent collection just to keep it clear as you view them. 

1960s Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne examples. Barbara Berger collection, MAD museum.
Valentino, 1970s. Made by Coppola e Toppo. Exhibit example. Sarara Vintage image.
Stunning 1920s-30s examples. Barbara Berger Collection. Sarara Vintage image.
1980s Chanel pendant, one of my favorite pieces. Sarara Vintage image, right reserved.
Miriam Haskell. Barbara Berger Collection. Sarara Vintage image.
David Mandel, 2000. Necklace detail. From exhibit. Sarara Vintage image.
Paco Rabanne, vintage necklace 1980s-90s. Barbara Berger exhibit.
Chanel section at the exhibit, various Maison Gripoix for Chanel examples featured.
Maggy Rouff, 50s-60s. Made by Maison Gripoix. Another favorite of mine from the exhibit. Sarara Vintage image.
Maison Gripoix, 2000. PHOTO CREDIT: © Pablo Esteva

I hope you enjoyed the exclusive images from inside the event and quotes by Barbara from her talk. I hope to finish up an interview with her at a future date, when she is back from her travels. Stay tuned as I’ll repost another article if that comes to fruition.  My advice if you are captivated by the images and depth of the show presented here, would be to take a boat, plane, carriage, walk no run to the show before it closes.   I have included various examples not in the text, and there are many others in both the text and exhibit still to see. The exhibit is truly a break from the mundane into a fantasy world of paste stones, cut glass and beyond. Follow me on instagram to see even more images from the show and a slew of designer and couture jewelry as they come into the shop




MAD Museum press release and information:


Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger will be an eye-opening presentation of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, many of them one-of-a-kind, drawn from the world-renowned collection of Barbara Berger. Featured designers include Kenneth Jay Lane, Lanvin, Missoni, Oscar de la Renta and Pucci. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Arts and Design from June 25 through September 22, 2013 (a portion of the exhibition will remain open until January 20, 2014).

Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger is organized by David McFadden, William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, in collaboration with jewelry historian Harrice Simons Miller, as guest curator.

Support for Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger generously provided by Miriam Haskell, with additional support from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the official airline of MAD.

PUBLICATION

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated publication on the Berger collection published by Assouline in 2013 titled Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger. The book includes forewords by Pamela Golbin and Iris Apfel and an essay on the history of fashion jewelry in the Berger Collection by Harrice Miller.

*** ORIGINALLY Published 7/11/13- part of the archives transferred from our original blog site.

Diana Vreeland and The Have-It Girls: VOGUE 1976.

 

While jewelry trends, as well as vintage accessorizes are queen here, the focus undoubtedly the history of jewelry…. I am also very interested in fashion and costume. So, when I ran across an article in my February 1976 Vogue put together by Diana Vreeland about Style the American Way, I was transfixed.  She skillfully blends her involvement as the consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and her work on the exhibit American Women of Style, with the pages of Vogue. The exhibit focused on the clothing and “the look” of the unique set of influential women chosen from the 1890s to 70s. This is where the fashion it girl of the time, Marisa Berenson comes into focus. Vreeland recreated these women with Marisa as her muse, wearing clothing and accessorize displayed in the actual exhibit. I’m not sure if anyone could pull this off today, but the interview with Diana which follows doesn’t disappoint. It blends Vreeland’s experience making them come to life therein.   The images are fun and included editorial shots of Marisa embodying the fashion essence of 4 of these chosen it girls: Josephine Baker, Irene Castle, Irene Langhorne Gibson, and Rita de Acosta Lydig.  We get a glimpse of how these women used their gender and clothing to make statements.

1. Marisa Berenson as Irene Langhorne Gibson:

“This was the true American style-the original Gibson girl. Every girl in America wanted to be her. Every man in American wanted to win her”(Diana Vreeland).

She was one of four Langhorne sisters ravishing Southern Belles from Richmond Virginia, until she married Charles Dana Gibson, a Massachusetts blue blue blood Yankee with a sharp, social-comment eye and miraculous sketch-pen technique. Mr Gibson repeatedly drew his enchanting, all-American, mischief -eyed, outdoorsy Irene; and a whole generation tried to look like the Gibson Girl ( Vogue February 1976).

Shirtwaist, The Costume Institute Collection. Richard Avedon image.  Scan from my archive.

2. Irene Castle:

Marisa as Irene and below, images of her actual clothing and accessories found in the museum archive. Richard Avedon image.  Scan.

“She dress like nobody else in the world she was delicious” ( Diana Vreeland).

She was the hit of any show she was in, this classy girl from New Rochelle, New York. From the 1912 moment when she and her most attractive man in town husband ragtimed across the Cafe de Paris floor in Paris, she had everybody doing it-the Bunny Hug, the Castle Walk, bobbing their hair, wearing floaty-dotey ‘Castle Frocks’, throwing away cumbersome undies-going modern (Vogue February 1976).

3. Josephine Baker:

Marisa as Josephine, outfit actually belonged to her. Loaned from Paris. While I’d rather have seen a African American model-the photo is meant to be an homage.  Richard Avedon image. Scan.

“She was the chic of Paris, she set the twenties style” (Diana Vreeland).

She was a poor girl from St. Louis who jazz stepped to Paris the Harlem nightclub and revue route. In a string of bananas, she Charlestoned to prodigal wealth, world fame. Whether on-staged in a single flaming-pink Champs-Elysees in her svelte couture ensembles, docilely accompanied by leopards, cheetahs, and a gaggle of big-spender admirers, she was the essence of elegant, jazz baby style (Vogue Febrary 1976).

4. Rita de Acosta Lydig:

Marisa as Rita, small images of her belongings given to various New York City museums and the Costume Institute.  Richard Avedon image. Scan from my archive.

“She lived for elegance, love, and Women’s Rights” (Diana Vreeland)

Her life was dedicated to elegance, beauty, refinement, and independence. When she entered her box at the Metropolitan Opera House, flashed her big dark Latin eyes, twirled her black lace fan (she was mad about lace), and, with a half a turn, showed her sumptuous back bar to her waist- scandal! But daring high-society darlings went bare-backed immediately. She was a gallant woman of deep passion about everything-dress to women’s suffrage.  Mrs. Lydig was a Spanish American beauty (Vogue February 1976). 


The Interview: Diana Vreeland on these women and Marisa Berenson interview-

My favorite sections from the interviews above:

*All images taken by me of my copy of the article for educational use.

The Jewelry of Art Smith

Art Smith, of Jamaican decent and cuban birth, moved to the United States, New York City/Brookyln to be specific in the 1920s.  Considered an important early American jewelry designer, he produced some of the most beautiful modernist work. He has also been recognized as the first “African American” jewelry designer. This year the MFA presented some of his work in their exhibit and the Brookyln museum also summarized in their coverage:

Knuckle Duster ring, Art Smith. 1968. Brooklyn museum.


“Inspired by surrealism, biomorphicism, and primitivism, Art Smith’s jewelry is dynamic in its size and form. Although sometimes massive in scale, his jewelry remains lightweight and wearable. The jewelry dates from the late 1940s to the 1970s and includes his most famous pieces, such as a “Patina” necklace inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder; a “Lava” bracelet, or cuff, that extends over the entire lower arm in undulating and overlapping forms; and a massive ring with three semi-precious stones that stretches over three fingers.

Trained at Cooper Union, Art Smith, an African American, opened his first shop on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village in 1946. One of the leading modernist jewelers of the mid-twentieth century, Smith was also an active supporter of black and gay civil rights, an avid jazz enthusiast, and a supporter of early black modern dance groups”. (From the exhibit and online article- Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith-Brooklyn Museum).

Boa, by Art Smith.1964. Brooklyn museum image.
Lava, 1946. Art Smith. Brooklyn Museum image. 

By the 1950s he had coverage in magazines like Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. He sold to celebrity clientele as well as-one of the most noted cases, Eleanor Roosevelt for whom he designed a brooch.  During the 1960s his style grew to include significant use of sterling silver. Recognized over and over from jewelry text to exhibits and awards, needless to say he is of interest to anyone who collects or appreciates jewelry. Examples currently for sale, can be viewed online and in Hudson, NY.   So hope you enjoyed, this little visual feast of images of some of my favorite examples of his work. I think it is safe to say that many a collector, myself included, might do many a thing for my favorite piece, this necklace: 

Ellington Necklace, 1962- online image from the Brooklyn museum site.

Ellington Necklace, 1962- online image from the Brooklyn museum site.

Judy Garland Had All the Best Shoes

rainbowshoe1938

“Rainbow” Sandal cork lined and suede. Created for Judy Garland in 1938. © Museo Salvatore Ferragamo

I remember when I first started out and I saw Salvatore Ferragamo shoes from the 80s, I’m like what’s the big deal? Then I saw the Judy Garland rainbow platform shoe above made in yes 1938, yeah he invented the platform, the cage heel, the wedge- you name he probably did it first. He started making shoes at 9. His items were handmade and until the 60s and when he died he was still designing. He worked in California making a name for himself in the late teens early 1920s, before returning to Italy to start the brand. The Ferragamo museum in Italy is a must see for the history of the fashion shoe. Maybe I need those reissued rainbow platforms? Ferragamo where ever you are, because I’m feeling very over the rainbow today. In 2010 they reissued 80 iconic models in limited quantities sold at select Ferragamo boutiques around the world… Maybe it’s time to pony up. Well, actually now these will be harder to find and more expensive-so probably should have bought them when they reissued the fab shoe in the first place….Better late than never. Let the hunt begin!