Sunday, August 25, 2013

Judith Murat Jewelry

Back in May I attended a cocktail party to benefit the Alzheimer's Association.  It was held in an amazing private penthouse overlooking the East River and most of Manhattan, and included a trunk show of Judith Murat's stunning jewelry.  Murat has been designing jewelry for about fifteen years, before which she was an artist and a fashion model.  Her jewelry is beautiful and has an ethereal quality to it that is so unique and special.  I also love her whimsical collection of animal pieces that feature owls, monkeys, fish and more.  I am a little obsessed with all things animal and often gravitate towards jewelry with that theme.  And, of course, the huge, sparkly stones make for some stunning, theatrical pieces.  Celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez & Jennifer Hudson like to wear them on the red carpet.

I photographed a few of my favorites (below) from the collection, but you can see them all on her web site: .  Judith also has a new book out, called Judy's Journey Into the Land of Murat, that showcases her "Island Living" collection.  I haven't seen the whole book, but some of the pages are on her web site and the photos are gorgeous shots of her jewelry in breathtaking island settings. 


Spring Growth peridot & diamond necklace, leaf earrings and ring
Me wearing the beautiful ring!
Deep blue jellyfish aquamarine lavalier, coral branch necklace,
citrine lavalier and citrine drop earrings
The coral branch necklace and citrine lavalier combined to make this incredible necklace
Rubellite & diamond earrings
Palm tree with green tourmaline hearts pin
Seahorse pin
Jeweled fish pin, one of my favorites
Owl pin, also one of my favorites

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Politics Of Fashion With...Commissioner Bob Stump

This post is the first of a new feature on my blog called "The Politics Of Fashion" where I plan to take a closer look at the accessories politicians, public servants and heads of state are wearing.  It's my opinion that except for a few political wives (Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, Princess Diana, Carla Bruni, Queen Rania, etc) not enough people in politics dress the part.  Even most female candidates don't seem to make presentation a priority.  Without any political statement or political preference intended by this blogger, here's to dressing the part and looking good, while hopefully doing good.

While some politicians use social media to take pictures of their "junk" and send them out to their female constituents, others know exactly what women really want to see:  shoes!  I recently met Bob Stump, Chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and learned that he was voted "Best Shoes" by the Arizona Capitol Times in 2011.  What a fabulous contest! A perusal of his Facebook page and his Twitter account revealed that even two years later his constituents are still talking about his shoes, and there's a hilarious video that Stump graciously participated in making. 
(video by Evan Wyloge of Arizona Capitol Times

Of course, I had to know which shoes Commissioner Stump was wearing in the video and it turns out they are these Gucci loafers (below) with bamboo bits.  I'm not sure if he was trying to make a political statement with the bamboo, which is a sustainable resource, but as someone who helps set energy policy for Arizona he made a good choice.

Bob Stump's Gucci Loafers
(photo courtesy of Bob Stump)
It seems Commissioner Stump really loves shoes, and maybe needed a new pair of sneakers, as he's photographed here stuffing a Puma sneaker in his jacket:

Bob Stump pretending to shoplift sneakers at the video shoot
(Photo by Evan Wyloge of Arizona Capitol Times
Commissioner Stump admiring a selection of shoes
(Photo by Evan Wyloge of Arizona Capitol Times )
Interesting to note my discovery on his Twitter account that another Arizona paper, the Arizona Republic, called Mr. Stump "A dashing tuxedoed figure" which led to a discussion about him and bow ties.  Apparently he has been wearing them since he was a little boy.

Commissioner Stump as a young child, sporting a bow tie
(Photo courtesy of Bob Stump)
All grown up and standing in front of Nancy Pelosi's office
(Photo courtesy of Bob Stump)
I don't know who tied his bow ties when he was a kid, but he can tie his own now thanks to lessons from a former co-worker at The Weekly Standard in DC, none other than the lord of bow ties, Tucker Carlson.  Now, that's impressive!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

In The Closet With....Alexandra Lebenthal

This post is the start of a new feature on Accessory Generation called "In The Closet With...." where I plan to feature private accessories collections of some of the most stylish and fashionable notable New Yorkers who regularly grace the pages of fashion and lifestyle magazines.  I hope my readers will enjoy the private tours of their closets!

Dubbed the "New Queen of Wall Street" by Fortune Magazine, Alexandra Lebenthal is the CEO of Lebenthal & Co, a third generation investment firm by day and one of New York Society's most well dressed women at night.  Every time I have ever seen Alexandra at the many charity events we both attend she is always wearing the most beautiful and interesting accessories to complement her lovely and colorful designer gowns.  Earlier this year, at the Museum of the City of New York winter ball, I admired the stunning vintage Kenneth Jay Lane earrings Alex was wearing and asked if I could photograph them for this blog.  That led to a very gracious invitation to visit her apartment and photograph her entire collection of vintage costume jewelry.  For me that's more exciting than an invitation to the White House!  Not only do I love jewelry, but I also love looking in people's closets (by invitation only of course), because people express their personalities through their wardrobe choices.  I also happen to be obsessed with organizing and I love to see how others arrange their closets.  I'm happy to report that Alex has special drawers to organize and protect her collection.
Alexandra wearing vintage Kenneth Jay Lane earrings

Alexandra's collection, including the earrings pictured above, was started with pieces that her mother bought as a young woman in the 1960's and later passed on to Alex.  Both Alex and her mom before her, shared a love for large earrings and much of Alexandra's collection is comprised of sparkly, ornate, dangling showstopper earrings that can elevate a nice outfit into a knockout look.

Alexandra modeling a pair of vintage Larry Vrba earrings

My afternoon in Alex's closet was amazing.  Her collection of vintage costume jewelry includes some of the finest pieces I have ever seen.  What I love about her collection is that it sports a variety of styles, colors and designers and there are smaller collections by specific iconic designers that comprise the bulk of the overall collection.   I took almost fifty photos while I was there and I've edited that down to about thirty to post.  We pulled items out by designer and I researched and have shared below a little background on the major ones for those readers who are interested in learning about the history of vintage jewelry as well as just appreciating its beauty. 

Alex's favorite costume jewelry designer is Larry Vrba.  Vrba got his start designing for the legendary Miriam Haskell (see below).  For the past thirty years Vrba has been designing his own contemporary Lawrence Vrba collection comprised of large, colorful, theatrical pieces.   After seeing Alex's collection I am now a Vrba fan myself and have purchased a pair of his earrings at a vintage shop.

A selection of vintage Larry Vrba earrings and a Vrba necklace

Vibrant yellow vintage Vrba earrings

These pastel vintage Vrba earrings have a Mogul jewel look
Art Deco style vintage Larry Vrba pendant necklace

Alexandra has a variety of vintage Kenneth Jay Lane pieces as well, including earrings, pins, bracelets and even a rare belt.  Internationally renowned Kenneth Jay Lane may be best known nowadays for his phenomenally successful mass sales on QVC, but KJL started out as a shoe designer who made jewelry in his spare time and eventually developed that hobby into a business.  His costume jewelry has been worn by celebrities and first ladies alike and his vintage pieces are highly collectible. 

Alex's vintage KJL collection

Some of the KJL earring collection

Beautiful green vintage KJL earrings look like cabochon emeralds

KJL simulates stones beautifully, an example being these
vintage coral costume earrings

These pretty vintage Kenneth Jay Lane earrings have an Indian maharani style

One of several rare pieces in Alex's collection,
this KJL vintage belt is gorgeous

Some of my favorite pieces are part of Alexandra's vintage Chanel collection.  Coco Chanel started designing costume jewelry during the Art Deco period to complement what was then the very modern women's wear that she introduced to the world.  In the 1930's Chanel employed the now famous Verdura as the head designer of her costume jewelry department .  Coco Chanel favored green and red stones in her creations and she exclusively used Maison Gripoix in Paris as her supplier because of their poured glass stones that have a translucent quality.  In reference to costume jewelry Coco Chanel once remarked "Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful."  Her pieces certainly do that and they remain amongst the most sought after jewelry with collectors and fashionistas alike.

Alex's vintage Chanel treasures

A beautiful and unusual piece, this Chanel necklace is
indicative of Coco's penchant for red and green stones

Gorgeous vintage pin also with Chanel's signature red and green stones

Hands down my favorite piece of Alexandra's entire collection is this Chanel necklace below.  It is an incredible work of wearable art and very rare and valuable.  I have seen many Chanel necklaces, but none quite this stunning.  Chanel was known to incorporate foreign cultural influences into her costume jewelry and I think this medallion has an Aztec mandala look to it.

A simply incredible and rare vintage Chanel medallion necklace

A closer look at the breathtaking medallion.

Alex's penchant for earrings is evident in her colorful Thelma Deutsch collection.  Deutsch was known for bright colorful brooches and elaborate earrings.  Many of her pieces were made from vintage molds from other well known costume jewelry designers which she would re-work and make her own by changing key elements, like the color of the stones. 

Alex's multi-colored Thelma Deutch vintage earrings

A sparkly pair of vintage Deutch earrings with opalescent stones

No vintage costume jewelry collection would be complete without at least one piece from the legendary Miriam Haskell.  Haskell started out in the 1920's and was a trailblazer in the early days of costume jewelry and was one of very few woman, along with Coco Chanel, who were in the business.  In fact, Haskell also sold Chanel's jewelry in one of her own boutiques.  Haskell was very popular in Hollywood with movie stars and performers.   Joan Crawford was rumored to have had a set of almost all of Haskell's pieces made from the 1920's to the 1960's, and the one and only Zeigfeld outfitted his Follies with Haskell designs. 

Alex's Miriam Haskell gold bead necklace

Haskell vintage robin's egg blue pendant from the Lebenthal collection

A closer look at the pendant

This pearl bracelet is a very good example of a vintage Haskell piece

In addition to the mini collections of important vintage designers above, Alexandra has individual pieces from very well known and collectible costume jewelers as part of her overall collection.  She also has some unsigned pieces that are interesting and stylish, too. 

Alex had these earring made from links of a broken Trifari bracelet.  Beautiful, and an ingenious solution to saving a vintage piece!

Fun and colorful vintage Napier bracelet

Pretty vintage floral brooch by Coro

Patriotic red, white & blue unsigned fur clip

An amazing statement exact copy of this contemporary costume bracelet designed by Rodrigo Otazu, was featured in the movie Sex & the City 2

And, finally, two vintage rings that are likely real semi-precious stones and not costume, round out the Alexandra Lebenthal collection.

This vintage ring was a gift to Alex's mother from an
Italian princepessa she knew in Twin Falls, Idaho

Brazilian quartz ring from H. Stern

I want to thank Alexandra Lebenthal for opening her closet and allowing me to share her beautiful collection with all of my blog readers.  It was truly a very rare opportunity to see some phenomenal  and important vintage pieces from a wonderful private collection.  I'm inspired to continue collecting and researching and I hope my readers have enjoyed this glimpse into vintage costume jewelry history.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vintage Enamel

One of the cool things about getting older is that stuff from your childhood eventually becomes vintage and not just "old," but you've got to give it at least twenty years.  It's been more than twenty years since I've seen single digit birthdays, so I've been combing through my musical ballerina jewelry box (remember those ladies?) for long forgotten treasures.  Most of it is for kids, but some of it can actually make the transition to adulthood, especially since it's now officially vintage.  My father used to buy me some fun stuff and since "everything old is new again" under the vintage craze we live in, I can sometimes find things that are back in style like the enamel bracelets below.  I don't remember even wearing them when I was a kid, because they probably weren't intended for children.  But I do remember my father giving them to me and wish I could remember where he got them.  FAO Schwartz was always on his radar and he bought me some rings there, but I'm drawing a blank on these. 

Even though I don't think I wore them, somehow the enamel on the blue one still managed to chip off a little so I've got to get some paint and fix it.  I think they'll be good to go once I restore them.   

                                                              Vintage enamel bracelets

For some reason I keep making my mother (Barbara) sketch all the vintage goodies I pull out for this blog.  Sketching and vintage seem to go together and she's pretty good at it!  It's safer if I just stick to the digital camera though.  My talent lies more in hunting the accessories down.

Vintage red enamel bracelet; sketch by Barbara

Vintage blue enamel bracelet; sketch by Barbara

It's actually a lot of fun digging through my childhood stuff and recycling things.  I encourage everyone to go find their old musical ballerina jewelry boxes and see what little treasures might still be inside.  Send photos!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cocktails at Tiffany with Gatsby & Schlumberger

Way back in April I attended a cocktail party at Tiffany's via the Women's Committee of the Central Park Conservancy.  Here is the lovely invitation:

Invitation for cocktails at Tiffany

Cocktails were served upstairs in a room showcasing the new Gatsby collection of jewelry, launched in honor of the movie, The Great Gatsby, that premiered this past Spring.  The jewels were flapper chic and we were allowed to try them on to our hearts' content.  I think my favorite was a stork pin, because it made me think of the famous Stork Club.  I took a photo of it, below.  The other Gatsby images are from the catalog, because I was too busy trying on jewelry to photograph most of it.

Stork pin from the Gatsby collection

The Gatsby collection catalog

An intro to the dazzling jewels.....

The ultimate ice "tennis" bracelets

A pearl Daisy Buchanan


Stunning sapphire and ice...

A little silver from the Ziegfeld Collection

The room where we were served cocktails and where the Gatsby jewels were displayed also housed some of the Jean Schlumberger collection.  I gravitated towards that pretty quickly and found two bracelets that are now on my "wish list."

My favorite Schlumberger bracelets

The photos really don't do them justice, but when you try them on they are simply amazing.  I didn't want to take them off and the very gracious staff indulged me for a long time.

Posing with the Schlumberger and a "cat that ate the canary" grin

As usually happens at a jewelry related event I was the last one to leave the party.  All in the name of blog research, of course!  On our way out the elevator doors opened right in front of the main floor Schlumberger counter, so naturally I had to stop to admire the beautiful pieces. 

A vibrantly colored enamel parrot brooch and matching bracelets

The salesman behind the counter, Gary Hassell, was a long time Tiffany employee and a Schlumberger expert and he shared some wonderful stories with us, including that he had sold a white enamel Schlumberger bracelet to Jackie Kennedy.  I did a Google search and found a photo of her wearing one.  Perhaps this was the very same! 

Jackie wearing her white enamel Schlumberger
It's always a special treat to have a private viewing of magnificent jewelry, and even more so to hear some of the glamorous history behind the pieces.

Some photos courtesy of Daniel Colon