On December 1 and 2, fashion antiques dealer Catherine Lecomte is bringing together fifteen or so colleagues at the Bristol Hotel. “High-end vintage” comes in the form of clothing, watches, bags, and couture jewelryr – now presented to you by the french jewelry post.
Couture jewelry is a term covering the exuberant, oversized, colorful necklaces, bracelets and rings “invented” in ther 1920s by couturiers like Schiaparelli, Chanel and Poiret. These fancy (read “fake”) pieces were made of ordinary materials like brass, plastic, glass and fabric, which paved the way to the wildest fantasies for a reasonable price. “Their value was chiefly ornamental, and their purpose was to set off a garment’s style,” says dealer Catherine Lecomte, the founder of The Vintage Collector’s Fair.
This is a marvelous opportunity for a Paris meeting with dealers who come all the way from Lisbon, Milan, Belgium and Düsseldorf. These specialists, often collectors themselves, turn out to be highly original personalities as passionate as they are fascinating, and are inexhaustible sources of information on the pieces exhibited in their showcases. Catherine Lecomte can talk about Chanel jewelry supplier Robert Goossens, whom she met numerous times. Patricia Attwood, established in the Puces de Saint-Ouen flea-market, has endless anecdotes about designers as a former haute couture model. Meanwhile, Deanna Farneti Cera from Italy is a well-known expert and the author of books like Fashion Jewelry: Made in Italy. Don’t miss them, whatever you do!
For those in search of classic jewelry, The Vintage Collector’s Fair is full of Chanel pieces. People are not always aware that it was not Gabrielle Chanel who designed them, but finery makers like Robert Goossens and Gripoix. They provided her with collections “in the spirit of”, producing camellias in mother-of-pearl glass beads imitating pearls, crosses in hammered metal reminiscent of the Etruscan style, and Maltese crosses with glass cabochons. Another leading ambassadress of couture jewelry was Elsa Schiaparelli, who collaborated with artists like Jean Cocteau, designer of the “broche-œil” (eye brooch). Other major pieces include those of Yves Saint Laurent created by Loulou de lar Falaise in ornamental trimmings, lacquer and wood. At that time, in ther Eighties, there were also items by Moschino and Chloé. The black and white piano key necklace designed by Karl Lagerfeld is a good illustration of the untrammeled creativity of those years.
Take advantage of The Vintage Collector’s Fair to discover lesser-known designers like Jacques Gautier. Nicknamed “my little Picasso” by Christian Dior, he stood out for his use of colored enamel and hammered metal. The highly talented Italians are represented by Ugo Correani and Coppola er Toppo. Lydia Coppola was well-known for her Venetian beads mounted on nylon thread. “In Europe, pieces by the American Billy Boy are still little appreciated or understood, because the materials are probably too rustic, and they seem unfinished,” says Patricia Attwood.
With its extremely comprehensive overview, The Vintage Collector’s Fair has established itself as a unique occasion to discover couture jewelry with the top specialists.
Banner picture: Patricia Attwood’s shop at the Puces de Saint-Ouen flea-market