Verdura Jewelry Exhibition Opens

Posted by minibraceletstores on October 16th, 2014

Cartier Panthere Ring in 18kt Pink Gold with Black Lacquer and D

“The Power of Style: Verdura at 75,” not only celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Verdura brand, but more importantly it serves as a retrospective of the brand’s founder and namesake whose work spanned five decades. The exhibition includes 216 pieces of jewelry by Fulco di Verdura in a museum quality space adjacent to the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship location.

“It started out being 150 pieces but as word got out that we were going to do a museum quality exhibition, people got excited about it and started opening their jewel boxes,” said Ward Landrigan, who purchased the brand in 1985. “For people who wear this jewelry a lot, it’s a long time to be without it.”

The exhibition opened to the public Tuesday and will run till December 23 at 745 Fifth Avenue, 12th floor. Reservations can be made by following this link. It is shaping up to be one of the most important jewelry exhibits of the year.

Along with the pieces are jewelry sketches, photographs of Verdura, who died in 1978, miniature paintings by Verdura, and photographs of the many celebrities, aristocrats, politicians and business people (men and women) who wore his jewelry or collected his art objects. All of the business transactions, no matter how noteworthy the client, were recorded on ledgers. One ledger and photographs of others are on display, revealing some of the famous clientele.

All of the pieces have either been loaned to the exhibition by the owners or their estates, or are part of the personal collection of Landrigan. He stresses that none of the items are for sale. Those who loaned their pieces include Brooke Shields, Sofia Coppola, Whoopi Goldberg and philanthropist Mercedes Bass.

One of the things about Verdura’s work, is that he was a true bespoke jeweler, making one-of-a-kind pieces based on the personal preference of a client or a specific occasion. Just about every piece of jewelry and object on display has a unique story.

One of the standouts is the Chanel Maltese Cross Cuffs worn by Verdura’s personal friend and collaborator, Coco Chanel. These became her signature cuffs and were recreated as costume jewelry and sold by Chanel. Landrigan explains that people assumed Verdura made costume jewelry but he didn’t. He made personal jewelry for Coco Chanel who had them re-made as costume pieces.

Other pieces of note are a yellow gold bracelet worn by Greta Garbo on screen (one of many Verdura pieces worn in movies) and the Laurel tiara, commission for Betsey Whitney worn for the occasion of her husband, John Hay Whitney, being appointed as UK Ambassador.

Even though the business is a retailer and a creator of jewelry based on Verdura’s original designs, the company managed to put together a proper representation of the designer, his work and a glimpse into the man, known for his well-connected friends and for being the life of the party. At least part of the reason had to be because the exhibition was curated by international fashion designer, Carolina Herrera, and her husband Reinaldo, who were personal friends of Verdura.

The items are arranged either by period or theme or style in large wall cases, where the jewelry appears to be floating, or in standalone cases for special pieces, such as the Chanel bracelets or the Whitney tiara. It is a well lit welcoming space from the inside and outside with neutral colored walls and well-placed partitions give the space breadth and depth.

“First we get all this jewelry and then we try to make sense of what relates to what and how,” Landrigan says. “Luckily because he did so many things of interest we didn’t have any trouble with that.” 

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