Christie’s Is Auctioning Off Jewelry as Art Again and We’re Calling Dibs (For You)

christies billboy 60s necklace

Christies auction house is set to auction off true little works of art that can be worn daily or just gazed at lovingly in your boudoir! What makes jewelry art? Well, I think we all know rarer bijoux examples, often made by hand such as Calder, Line Vautrin, or Louise Nevelson. They are art. However, in my mind jewelry is almost always an art form. And Christie’s is confirming it with their second Art as Jewellery auction Nov 6th –19th. Pieces can be perused online or at 20 Rockefeller Center Galleries from the 4th –13th.

Of course we agree completely with their inclusion of handmade jewelry by BillyBoy* whose pieces have multiple layers and contain relics of couture past, such as glass sourced from Mme Gripoix long ago. Although, the plethora of works by artists here are sure to add to your definition of jewelry as art!

BillyBoy* 1980s example featuring older couture elements in the design.

See some of our favorite Christies picks that could be yours next week!

Man Ray Brooch

Louise Nevelson necklace

Alexander Calder

Corneille. L’Oiseau

BillyBoy*

Pablo Picasso

 

*All images via Christies.com. Click the pic to visit the page.

Facades: Bill Cunningham- A Book Review

For anyone who has a fascination or admiration for one Mr. Bill Cunningham, then I have a book review for consideration. I decided to revisit a vintage book by the name of Facades done in 1978 by Bill Cunningham, introduced by Marty Bronson with model Editta Sherman. This whimsical book, organized by the enduring and iconic late Bill Cunningham, is a feast for the eyes. Fashion, vintage lovers, and red blooded New Yorkers alike should know what this classic is all about.  In 1948, Bill came to NYC to pursue a career in fashion. Before he dawned his bicycle to capture fashion on the streets of this fair city, he opened shop as a Millinery label William J.  After writing for WWD, he fell into his love of photography as a fashion journalist/ writer at the Chicago Tribune and the rest is history.

1900-1903 Flatiron Building. 5th Ave and 23rd. Designed by Daniel Burnham. Editta Sherman in era undergarments.

Facades, came about, as the book itself references; after 8 years of playing around with this labor of love. In the late 60s, he combined his love of cityscapes and began collecting antique and vintage clothing to photograph in front of architecture throughout the city. But what about a muse? We’ll get back to that key element…. Each era outfit was juxtaposed against the architecture and a chosen setting in the city. Both the clothing and building era correct. I find it intriguing that he thought of such a thing, why clothing? Well, I suppose this was the beginning of him sort of creating street style in the wake of the Seeberger Brothers.

As for muses, it was one alluring Editta Sherman who filled those shoes, lover of period clothing, photographer, mother, and artist. The “Duchess of Carnegie Hall”, referencing her home above Carnegie Hall for decades, cuts a great figure for each image which captures clothing from the 1700s-1960s.

“Bill carefully accessorized all the costumes with the proper shoes, parasols, wire bustles, gloves, and jewelry, sometimes even the underwear. When an authentic period hat was missing, out came his collection of felt, flowers, and ribbon, and he completed the picture with a reproduction based on careful research. The richness of Manhattan’s architectural settings was found beyond his greatest expectations. From Egyptian temples to Russian cathedrals, the locations were scouted by bicycle, Bill’s major means of transportation to this day. Success at matching the appropriate costume with the right location came as much from study as from intuition. Each location was carefully documented and dated through the many books available on the subject and through the files of the city’s architectural records”(Marty Bronson, introduction).

This work represents years of fashion and is in retrospect indicative of Bill’s life, talent, and relationship with the city. There is just so much in this book to look through and read, it is best enjoyed from cover to cover. Each image has a detailed description of the location’s history and era Here is a just a little taste…..

 

Mainboucher’s Jewelry Dress

“What you don’t do with a dress is at least (as) important as what you do, do. Too many gadgets can spoil the dress, just as surely as too many cooks, the broth.” A quote from Mainbocher while speaking to the Fashion Group of Chicago in 1940. The wise words above are from the Chicago History Museum’s catalog titled, Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier’, which accompanies an exhibit of the same name currently on view at the Chicago History Museum through August 2017. It is the first exhibit focused solely on the designer, Mainbocher. This is fitting as Mainbocher was born on the West side of Chicago and attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Through a very circuitous route and no formal training, Mainbocher ended up in mid-life (age 40) becoming the first American Couturier in Paris.

Mainbocher’s designs were practical, exacting and tended to have an emphasis on minimalism. Mainbocher did not follow trends but set them. He was responsible for introducing the world to the short evening dress, jeweled sweaters, the cocktail apron, the strapless bodice, and reviving the corset eight years before Dior’s ‘New Look’.

Being a collector of vintage jewelry, I find the gowns that Mainbocher created in the 1940s to be the most appealing because of their jewelry-like embellishments. During World War II, because of fabric rationing and not wanting to appear too extravagant during war-time, Mainbocher repeatedly used the same dress silhouette. To create interest and make his gowns beautiful, he added embellishments. Oftentimes these embellishments looked like jewelry. They were beautifully constructed of beads, rhinestones and sequins and mimic the look of necklaces and bracelets.

Mainbocher was very exacting in his vision. By creating gowns embellished with ‘built-in-jewelry’, he could more easily ensure that a customer would not change his intended vision by trying to accessorize the gowns themselves. According to the curator of the exhibition, Petra Slinkard, Mainbocher did not disallow his clients to wear jewelry, but rather made it easier for them to forgo the selection. The use of trompe l’oeil as a design tool was one he revisited frequently, as evident in his 1940s designs.”

In 1947 Mainbocher created a red velvet strapless gown for Mrs. A. Watson Armour III. Although there was no neckline or cuffs to embellish, Mainbocher created bracelets and a choker made out of red velvet covered balls, beads and sequins to be worn with the dress in order to complete the look. When the fabric rationing of World War II ended, Mainbocher could turn his attention away from embellishments and concentrate more on textiles and garment construction to create beautiful clothing. He did, however retain his minimalist aesthetic and ascribe to the notion that, “Too many gadgets can spoil the dress.”

All rights reserved. Article by Stuart Mesires for Sarara Couture. Stuart is a vintage shop owner, as seen on 1stdibs and former fashion veteran.

JUDITH LEIBER: Crafting a New York Story

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

JUDITH LEIBER AT MAD

April 4-August 6, 2017

by Harrice Miller

The first time I met Judith Leiber was in the early 90s when we were both doing Personal Appearances at Saks. She looked so real, so like a kindly grandma, I was struck with the dissimilarity between her appearance and the wildly glamorous and bedazzling jeweled purses she designed. Decades later, at the opening of her exhibition, “Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story”, at the Museum of Arts and Design, Judith, now 96, sat regally with Gerson Leiber, her artist husband of many years at her side, like a queen whose adoring subjects were stopping by to pay their respects.

Judith with friends in Greece. Courtesy of Judith Leiber.

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

 

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

The exhibition illustrated, through a series of extraordinary, iconic purses, the story of her rise as a handbag apprentice in her hometown of Budapest during World War II, to the last bag she designed before her retirement, in the shape of a jeweled peacock in 2004. In 65 years in the handbag industry, Judith revolutionized the concept of craftsmanship, with her bags ranging from beautifully fashioned leather and textiles to the Swarovski crystal-encrusted figural bags we know today to be her signature look. From the founding of her company Judith Leiber Handbags in 1963 until 2004, she designed more than 3,500 bags. She began first with leather examples and designed her first metal bag in 1967. 

Exhibit image by Sarara Couture. This was the first metal bag Leiber created and it was based on a Chatelaine made in 1967.

Rare 1968 metal bag, by Judith Leiber. Image courtesy of Sarara Couture.

Judith’s handbags have been carried by First Ladies, Hollywood actresses and opera singers, including Mamie Eisenhower, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Greta Garbo, Mary Tyler Moore, Claudette Colbert and Beverly Sills. Current wearers of Leiber bags include; Chanel Iman, Kelly Osborne, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chrissy Teigen, Diane Kruger among many others. They are cherished the world over by collectors who are attracted to their often whimsical shapes including fruits, vegetables, animals, birds, foo dogs, books, musical instruments, sea creatures, Fabergé-inspired eggs and even a Buddha!

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

 

Handbags, wax models, personal letters, and archival photographs create an atmosphere that personalizes the woman behind her creations. Judith’s inspiration stemmed from her love of travel, art, textiles, and materials, creating a body of work that MAD envisioned as exploring the gendered significance of the handbag in the 20th century and in the importance of immigrant entrepreneurship to the fabric of New York.

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

The exhibition was curated by MAD’s Assistant Curator Samantha De Tillio, with the support of Curatorial Assistant and Project Manager Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy. Be sure to visit the Leiber Collection, the museum is located in the East Hampton hamlet of Springs, NY.

Relevant links:

http://www.leibermuseum.org

Purse Perfection: Judith Leiber on Faberge, Rhinestones, and Her Favorite First Ladies

Jewelry History Spotlight: 1955 Gripoix Brooch for Chanel

coco-chanel-ad-and-brooches

I was honored to have had this piece for just a bit, before it was acquired by a Chanel collector. This very interesting brooch was from the collection of Robert Clark of Haskell and De Lillo.  He had an extensive archive and this piece was sourced directly from Gripoix in the 1950s.  It was one of 6 created  in reference to a jeweled piece that Coco Chanel had made by Verdura earlier. She is also said to have also had one of these copies. Stamped Made in France and in very good condition for it’s age, it was one of the more interesting piece coming through the doors as of late, and I couldn’t resist a little highlight on it for others interested.

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Vintage ad from Sotheby’s concerning the original Verdura piece which they auctioned off.

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1955 Chanel Gripoix brooch.

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Signature detail/ construction.

An Evening With Coco: Fashion Group 1969-“The Theory of Elegance”

Scan from my textual archive: Chanel, The Fashion Group Program. 1969.

During my constant search for fashion accessories texts and archives I ran across an interesting rare program from an event given in December of 1969, by The Fashion Group called, An Evening With Coco. The event was to honor her unique and fabulous style with a party and special performance of the sell out musical “Coco” (Frederick Brisson production of the musical-Katharine Hepburn played Coco. Cecil Beaton designed the costumes)  to benefit the group’s foundation focused on helping develop young talent in the industry as well as advancing women’s health and programs/job opportunities for those who would otherwise not have exposure to them.

The Fashion Group was founded in the 1970s, based on a program which was started in 1928 by seventeen New York women made up of store executives, fashion magazine editors etc. who shared an idea that fashion in America could be more. They wanted equality in fashion for women so that together both sexes could advance “American fashion”.

Coco was still very much alive in 1969 when the event was given – well into her 80s and the program features an interview with her by James Brady, WWD among rare images, quotes, information and stories. “She is the only designer who ever created a spirit as well as a look. And she has been her own best mannequin” (James Brady, WWD).

Chanelisms Coco Chanel Quotes 1969

Chanelisms. Scan from Chanel, The Fashion Group. 1969.

The post focuses on the contents of the program for all of the accessories and fashion lovers out there.  I hope to share some of those lesser known facts and sayings that this program has to offer:

Chanel 101:

She opened her Millinery shop in 1910 and her boutique in Deauville in 1912. Her first official shop was in Paris in 1914 and by 1916 her jersey was featured in Harper’s Bazaar. By 1918 she was leading the industry in Paris and in 1919 she made the “little nothing dress, 1920 the little black dress, the cage dress, pleated skirts and the quilted coat” (Program, page 12).  Other noteworthy moments – she creates Chanel no. 5 in 1922, 1925 she coins the sport tweed look.  In 1928: “Jewelry made of colored glass and crystal. ‘Quality, always quality-this is essential in the perfumery as in fashion’, says Mlle. Chanel” (from page 13 Chanel Non Stop).

Chanel actually closes and stops designing in 1938, keeping her perfume still available and popular until 1954 when she reopens at 31 Rue Cambon and starts designing again. Thus, as a designer she takes quite a long absence and gets back on the horse again!

The Lady and The Legend:

One of my favorite parts of the program is entitled The Lady and The Legend by Tomi Block and it explores the best of the “Chanel” stories and legends.  “All my life I have been called Coco“, she says-

Coco Chanel -The Fashion Group

Chanel vintage History Chanel Timeline Chanel

The Chanel Look (page 10):

“The Chanel Look, as specific as H2O, meant a combination of youth, comfort, jersey, pearls, of luxury hidden away in the perfection of detail, such as sable lining a collar and revealed only when the collar was turned up”. Luce cache and jewels, real or fake, were part of her theory of elegance…

1969 program scan closeup on Coco.

1969 program scan closeup on Coco.

“The essence of the Chanel Look was Chanel herself“….- it finishes that longer paragraph with one of my favorite parts:Combining true and the false, she wrapped her throat and filled in the V of the jacket with a mass of real pearl ropes, jumbled with red and green stones, obviously fake.”

Vintage Red and Green Chanel Jewelry

Chanel. 1969. Image scan.

Chanel. 1969. Image scan.

Coco facts

 

Accessocraft Design Archive: A Vintage New York City Fashion Jeweler

Vintage Accessocraft piece, from an archive boxed away for over 30 years. Prototype without signature, but with classic Accessocraft antiqued metal, chain and finish.

Vintage Accessocraft piece, from an archive which was boxed away for over 30 years. Prototype is without signature, but with classic Accessocraft antiqued metal, chain and finish.

Accessocraft, while a somewhat lesser known brand in terms of today’s global vintage market, was during it’s heyday producing jewelry for film, television and with major designers such as; Pauline Trigere and Anne Klein.  The New York City company produced spectacular designs worn by many women, that have influenced other designers over the years, as well.  The company was founded around 1930, by Edgar Rodelheimer and Theodore Steinman, but ceased operations in 1998.  Designers for the company are listed by Julia Carroll in her text Costume Jewelry 202 as: Theodore Steinman, Philippe Israel, Edgar Rodelheimer, Robert Appleby, Albert Freeman. However; I also own a Rhino brooch with an original Bill DeSeta for Accessocraft paper tag, pictured in the visual archive below.  This highlights the probability that other designer may have worked with the brand, but the paper tags were lost. The company’s popularity really began to escalate with their WWII relief themed pieces in the 1940s.

Great example of Accessocraft's 1940s work that put them on the map!

Great example of Accessocraft’s 1940s work that put them on the map!

 

Yet eventually, it became their large flashy 1960s-70s gothic, byzantine and relic influenced designs that they were most appreciated for in the long term. Signature styles in the brand’s history included the use of the names: Feathergold, Plastigold and Accessocraft.

1951 Ad, features a larger antique inspired necklace, showing their progression from daintier pieces of the 1940s to antique and artifact inspired styles.

1951 Ad, features a larger antique inspired necklace, showing their progression from daintier pieces of the 1940s to antique and artifact inspired styles.

1953 Ad by Accessocraft.

1953 Ad by Accessocraft.

Circa 1952 Accessocraft charm bracelet ad. They did a variety of these during this period.

Circa 1952 Accessocraft charm bracelet ad. They did a variety of these during this period.

Hannan Saleh image of a Sarara Couture Accessocraft Dragon necklace. A great example of one of the various precious stones used.

Hannan Saleh image of a Sarara Couture Accessocraft Dragon necklace. A great example of one of the various precious stones used.

In the collector’s market, the pieces do hold their value, but are somewhat undervalued at the same time -ranging in prices from 50-700 dollars. Most pieces fall into the 40-300 dollar range today on the resale market, with the larger dragon and Byzantine styles commanding a bit more. The higher end designs being larger and rarer are sought after, but even those prices fluctuate depending on the market. The materials they used ranged from gemstones to glass or lucite, set in quality antiqued metal finishes. I do expect that the brand will become more valued in the future.

As a resident of the New York tristate area, I have found that the history of the company is often right at your fingertips, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time… Besides the Bill DeSeta example, I have had two very informative archival encounters locally. One being a box of jewelry components signed and unsigned-finished and unfinished. The person who had the collection had purchased them from a man in his 90s in the late 1970s- early 1980s. They could not remember his name, but had stored the collection until 2014 in it’s entirety.  I was able to purchase some examples and take images of rarer pieces. In incomplete jewelry was also found in the box, and it included interesting body jewelry style pieces as well as jewelry style suspenders. Also, present were Indian and Nepal jewelry, which helped inspire their aesthetic and specific pieces that did go into production. See the foo dog necklace example and inspiration piece below. This newly found archive affords us a look into the design history and process. Fish bone necklaces in the collection, in a very large size where examples that I had not run across before.

THE BOX- FORMER ACCESSOCRAFT AFFILIATE’S COLLECTION/ARCHIVE

Unique oversized fish scale necklaces found in the Accessocraft collection/box of the former employee. I had not seen these examples before so I am not sure how many were put into actual production.

Unique oversized fish scale necklaces found in the Accessocraft collection/box of the former employee. I had not seen these examples before so I am not sure how many were put into actual production.

Finished designs very typical of Accessocraft's style. From the box.

Finished designs very typical of Accessocraft’s style. From the box.

Finished examples of Accessocraft designs found in the box.

Finished examples of Accessocraft designs found in the box.

In process signed Accessocraft belt, not completed. From the box saved by an old Accessocraft employee.

In process signed Accessocraft belt, not completed. From the box saved by an old Accessocraft employee.

Closeup detail of the Accessocraft "Foo Dog" necklace.

Closeup detail of the Accessocraft “Foo Dog” necklace.

1970s Foo Dog pendant made by a company in Nepal. Found in the old Accessocraft employee's box. Possible inspiration for the Accessocraft "Foo Dog" necklace as seen here.

1970s Foo Dog pendant made by a company in Nepal. Found in the old Accessocraft employee’s box. Possible inspiration for the Accessocraft “Foo Dog” necklace as seen here.

Back of the signed inspiration piece from the Accessocraft archive box found.

Back of the signed inspiration piece from the Accessocraft archive box found.

Accessocraft cuff, antique finish, similar style to their crosses and Byzantine revival pieces. As this was in the production and samples box it is one of the in progress unsigned pieces.

Accessocraft cuff, antique finish, similar style to their crosses and Byzantine revival pieces. As this was in the production and samples box it is one of the in progress unsigned pieces.

Acccessocraft prototype or design experiment, unsigned. Features elements with common Accessocraft construction traits.

Acccessocraft prototype or design experiment, unsigned. Features elements with common Accessocraft construction traits.

However, the sample or in process finds proved interesting in terms of my second encounter,  Accessocraft pieces from a set designer’s collection. Some elements found match or coincide with those found in the Accessocraft employee’s box. The set designer used Accessocraft jewelry in the 60s-70s on his television and film sets when needed, as I understand it. Some known brand themes and componets were found in multiples, as well as unique examples…made possibly just for his use- see those photographs below. There were also pieces with Accessocraft tags and made in France tags still attached. This gives us insight into a possible French maker that may have worked with the company to produce its pieces in the 1960s.

SET DESIGNER’S ARCHIVE CIRCA 1960S-70S

Accessocraft Byzantine example

One of my favorite Byzantine examples from his collection, possibly custom or made for his use by the company. Signed. As with some examples in the article archive here, they are for sale in the shop.

Accessocraft Key

Key Necklace by Accessocraft from the set designer’s archive.

Byzantine style Accessocraft cross form his collection.

Byzantine style Accessocraft cross form his collection.

Goddess Necklace from his archive.

Goddess Necklace from his archive.

Accessocraft Medieval Necklace

Large unique Ancient Cross style Accessocraft necklace from his collection.

Vintage Accessocraft Bird Accessocraft Snake Necklace

Accessocraft signature example, there were circular plaques attached near clasps, rectangular plaques on the backs....

Accessocraft signature example, there were circular plaques attached near clasps, rectangular plaques on the backs….

70s Accessocraft Necklace

Accessocraft "Yoga" Fish.

Accessocraft “Yoga” Fish.

As I continue to collect these pieces, I will add examples to the archive. Please feel free to send interesting jewelry photographs or vintage Accessocraft ads/editorials to me as I may include them here.

VISUAL DESIGN ARCHIVE VIA MY PERSONAL COLLECTION AND SHOP ARCHIVE:

Burst Necklace, signed.

Burst Necklace, signed.

60s Accessocraft

Shary Conella image. Accessocraft Mod Necklace. In the shop collection.

Silver variation of their well known oversized Byzantine necklace.

Silver variation of their well known oversized Byzantine necklace.

Accessocraft Egyptian Revival example. This was a theme they used often and the Egyptian theme reappears throughout the 1970s.

Accessocraft Egyptian Revival example. This was a theme they used often it reappears throughout the 1970s.

Accessocraft by Bill DeSeta example. The paper tag was the only evidence that the design was his.... The back is only signed Accessocraft.

Accessocraft by Bill DeSeta example. The paper tag was the only evidence that the design was his…. The back is only signed Accessocraft.

Anne Klein for Accessocraft.

Anne Klein for Accessocraft necklace. Accessocraft earlier on had a contract with AK to produce her jewelry. More coming on the relationship between the two.

Accessocraft Ethnic Necklace Accessocraft Byzantine necklace Vintage Crystal Accessocraft Necklace Accessocraft Dragon necklace 1970s Accessocraft runway necklace Accessocraft Dragon Necklace

Golden Shield, signed.

Golden Shield, signed.

Accessocraft Egyptian Revival Necklace, signed.

Accessocraft Egyptian Revival Necklace, signed.

Various examples from my collection.

Various examples from my collection. The golden tassel pendant is almost identical to a piece by Pauline Rader. It may be that they also produced her pieces at some point.

Accessocraft Snake Belt, they made various belt styles.

Accessocraft Snake Belt, they made various belt styles.

The golden necklace to the left is an example of a theme that they did in pins, belts and other necklaces. The silver Byzantine style necklace is the silver version of the popular large golden example seen above.

The golden necklace to the left is an example of a theme that they did in pins, belts, earrings and other necklaces. The silver Byzantine style necklace is the silver version of the popular large golden example seen above.

 

 

 

*Article idea, content and image rights reserved. Research and analysis done by Sara, Sarara Couture.

Tiaras Off To Sotheby’s: The Magnificent and Nobel Jewels Auction

The Burmese Ruby, Jean Schlumberger paure, 1930s Cartier tiara and 19th century tiara necklace from Mary's collection. Finally the pink diamond ring. Sotheby's press images.

The Burmese Ruby, Jean Schlumberger paure, 1930s Cartier tiara and 19th century tiara necklace from Mary’s collection. Finally the pink diamond ring. Sotheby’s press images.

May 12 Sotheby’s will present a treasure trove of jewelry to fit a queen or king! There will be a total of 5 Tiaras of nobel origin, as well as amazing rare gemstones.  The viewings have started in Geneva and we are releasing images of some of the most important pieces like the Historic Pink Diamond an 8.72 carat and the blood red Burmese ruby The Sunrise Ruby, over 25 carats.  The pink diamond is is rumored to have been part of the collection of Princess Mathilde, a niece of Napoleon. Yet, the jewelry lover/ historian in me would be very curious to see the entire selection of historic pieces by Cartier, in person-all from a private collection. The French designs represented like the Jean Schlumberger parure, circa 1960s are also quite interesting.

Maybe most intriguing to me, would be the tiaras formerly owned by Mary Duchess of Roxburghe, granddaughter of the Rothschild heiress Hanna. She was divorced in 1953, which created a huge scandal, yet she endured.  Born in 1915 and died last year…. She grew up along side noble neighbors and dinned with royalty, if ever there was a real life Mary of Downton-she could come close. She was strong willed and withstood a stand off during the divorce that caused her to refuse to leave her quarters in their Castle for six weeks. She was without phone, water, and electricity. For a look at the catalogue click here.

If you just can’t wait for May, here are some of my April 21st auction favorites -based on design and or historical significance. This auction is entitled only Magnificent jewels.  Sort of a precurser to the huge May sale: Magnificent Jewels and Nobel Jewels. However there were so many beauties it’s best to click here to see this catalogue for April:

Sotheby's catalogue image.

Sotheby’s catalogue image.

18 Karat Gold, Jadeite and Diamond Pendant, Henry Dunay. Sotheby's auction catalogue image.

18 Karat Gold, Jadeite and Diamond Pendant, Henry Dunay. Sotheby’s auction catalogue image.

1928. Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet. Sotheby's image.

1928. Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet. Sotheby’s image.

Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, 1910. Sotheby's Auction image.

Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, 1910. Sotheby’s Auction image.

Sotheby's catalogue image.

Sotheby’s catalogue image.

Accessorizing YSL + Halston: FIT NYC Offers Up a Iconic Fashion Story

 

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With 1970s style in the air for spring and a bit of winter 2015, it seems to be the ideal time to linger and appreciated the iconic founders of some of these easy chic styles. Yves Saint Laurent + Halston, Fashioning the 70s opened at The museum at FIT, during this fashion week and runs until April 18th, 2015.  Two of the most important names influencing fashion at this time; Yves Saint Laurent and Halston are being examined. From the lighting, to the concave glass , stands, creamy backdrop and metal curtain details; the show really does a great job of displaying the clothing and yes, accessories created by the designers.

YSL and Halston dresses exhibited together. Sarara Couture image.

YSL and Halston dresses exhibited together. Sarara Couture image.

The FIT collection holds some of the most noteworthy examples from each designer laid out by dates with a focus on the 1970s collections.  There are some items and discourse of years that led up to and a bit after the 1970s, allowing for one to really evaluate the designs. They play with some similarities the designer shared, at different moments in their careers… At points you find yourself checking the credits, was it Halston or YSL? Perhaps FIT’s museum best summarizes it by saying:

“All of the nearly 100 objects on view within the exhibition are drawn exclusively from The Museum at FIT’s permanent collection. With such narrow parameters—two designers and one museum collection—the exhibition is decidedly not a survey of 1970s fashion, nor is it a retrospective of each designer’s work. Instead, it is a curatorial exploration, a re-evaluation of Saint Laurent and Halston set within the larger cultural landscape of the dreamy, indolent, sexy 1970s” (The Museum at FIT).

Exhibit section view/ YSL items to the left and mostly Halston gowns to the right. Sarara Couture.com

Exhibit section view/ YSL items to the left and mostly Halston gowns to the right. Sarara Couture.com

While, what you see mostly come from the museum’s vast archive, including an important Halston collection, various noteworthy clients, editors and the like have donated pieces. Credits are displayed under each outfit….. Also, In the spirit of the Fashion Institute of Technology, when you walk inside, they first treat you to a mini educational exhibit of the history of the fake. This enlightens and reminds us all just how long fakes, authorized copies and the like have been part of fashion history, with copies of Vionnet, Chanel and Paul Pioret’s during the 1920s on display.  Great section for collectors and sellers to review.

View of educational video screen on display at the Faking it exhibit.

View of educational video screen on display at the Faking it exhibit. Image Sarara Couture.

Once you journey to the lower level and main exhibit, so to speak, the elevator opens to a creamy white hallway with disco ball glass lighting reflecting on the timeline. Here the graph joins the history of the two designers before you walk into the main exhibit.

YSL/ Halston timeline featured in the outer area of the exhibit. Sarara Couture.

YSL/ Halston timeline featured in the outer area of the exhibit. Sarara Couture.

Once inside the viewer takes in the shared inspirations of the designers, including menswear and non-Western cultures. Yet, those who know the works of both designers well, will also enjoy the way the exhibit highlights each distinct perspective. As a wearer and appreciator of YSL clothing, there were a few pieces that made me want to cry with joy.  Of course, I would love to add the perfect Halston gown to my wardrobe and the exhibit serves up many drool worthy examples.  At this point, rather than do an analysis of YSL and Halston, which has been done via FIT and their exhibit. I wanted to focus in on the belts, jewelry, hats and complete looks that inspired me. Also, the post won’t spoil as much for those who have yet to attend the exhibit.  However; just in case one becomes overwhelmed by the large assortment of fashion history once inside, this post should help you focus in a bit on the accessories as well.

1976 YSL, Cape, part of an ensemble. French. Wool, velveteen, nylon. Sarara Couture image, rights reserved.

1976 YSL, Cape, part of an ensemble. French. Wool, velveteen, nylon. Sarara Couture image, rights reserved.

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Halston’s 1974 floor length sequin gown. Sarara Couture image.

I really enjoyed the effort the curators made to create complete looks and which highlighted how important the original fashion accessories created at the time were to the designs. While focusing on the Yves Saint Laurent accessories and jewelry by Elsa Peretti for Halston was at moments overshadowed by garments such as Halston’s sexy chic 1974 sequin gown- concentrate, I did!

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1967 YSL African evening dress, stunning iconic example which make it hard to focus on anything!

Vintage fashion image of Twiggy in 1967 YSL African dress.

Era fashion image of Twiggy in a 1967 YSL African dress.

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A Look at Original Accessories and Jewelry In Context/ Identification Guide: 

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YSL Rive Gauche 1977, “Peasant outfit”. Sarara Couture images throughout.

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Closeup belt image.

1976 "Russian" YSL hat. Sarara Couture image.

1976 “Russian” YSL hat.

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Gift of Lauren Bacall, 1968 Rive Gauche tassel belt. This piece makes me more excited to see the Fit Lauren Bacall exhibit coming in March.

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Built in accessories via Halston's 1982 embellished dress.

Built in accessories via Halston’s 1982 embellished dress.

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Black velvet coolie style hat, 1977. Part of YSL’s “Chinese” inspired ensemble.

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Definitely a favorite look, 1972 jersey Halston floor length caftan and Elsa Peretti sterling “vessel” necklace, 1975 on silk cord.

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Vintage Elsa Peretti Halston “vessel” necklace ad. Original ad. Image is vintage and not by Sarara Couture.

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Full area of Halston caftans, including full view of red piece.

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Close up on Elsa Peretti 1971 sterling silver belt.

1977 "Chinese" collection silk, detail of fringe belt. YSL.

1977 “Chinese” collection silk, detail of fringe belt. YSL.

1968 Safari shirt and smaller belt. The larger size circular belt original outfit was photographed by Helmut Newton on Verushka in 1968.

1968 Safari shirt and smaller belt. The larger size circular belt original outfit was photographed by Helmut Newton on Verushka in 1968.

Finally, this noteworthy gilt 1968 Chanel Pate Verre fashion brooch from the Faking it exhibit :

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