Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vintage Bijoux Exoticism - Glamorous Girls & Costume Jewels

Back from scouring the world for treasures, quite like a Bohemian pirate with his (her) booty. There was, in fact, a pirate in the family tree. His name was Valentine and he succumbed to an untimely death in the New World. The treasures I have unearthed have an air of the exotic and are perfumed with mystery.

I have been collecting vintage jewelry for as long as I can remember. As a young goth girl, I gravitated towards Victorian and Edwardian pieces, as dark and spooky as possible. Mourning jewelry, hair lockets and anything with a spiderweb was suitably macabre. I would try to simulate the effect of a spiderweb by draping long strands of deep black faceted French jet beads across my chest, the sparkles simulating morning dew. 

One piece I cherish is a tremendous Whitby Jet cameo ring I inheirited from my Irish great-grandmother. It is a massive piece, almost too big to wear. You can see the depth of time in the cameo's wizened carved features and endless black abyss of the stone. It is one of those pieces of jewelry which dictate the type of outfit you would wear with it, generally a black velvet dress and a Victorian beaded capelet. 

Below is a very unusual Victorian necklace featuring lizards surrounding a mythical horse. In Victorian and Art Nouveau art and design, the salamander or lizard represents passionate love and a flaming heart. It was believed that these animals could survive fire. The horse at the center most likely represents strength.

                                                                                          available here

Below is a very exotic image of Greta Garbo wearing a superb headdress.

As far as I am concerned, when it comes to jewels, bigger is better. I love large, sculptural, very dramatic pieces that veer toward the surreal. 

I grew up in a very Bohemian atmosphere in California with yearly European forays. I tend to gravitate toward pieces that have a sense of history and seem to be from distant lands. I like to find pieces that were stylistically inspired by the cultures and artistic traditions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

I have always been obsessed by pattern and balance and I think the pieces I collect and sell reflect this passion and are almost always richly detailed. 

Below is an amazing neck piece made by Accessocraft in the 1960s.

                                                                                                                                           available here

Below is a photograph of Brigitte Bardot looking every bit the Bohemian goddess in Vogue from 1970.

Every era in the history of costume jewelry has produced masterpieces. Lately, I have been collecting a great deal of pieces from the early 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s. I love the ethnic influence that was in vogue during this era. I feel like this particular time was a modern renaissance. The costume jewelry had a medieval or Renaissance revival influence crossed with Ottoman jewelry and the lyrical abandon of the surrealists. 

Below is a favorite photo of Kenneth Lane from his book "Faking It".

Kenneth Lane is someone who participated in this Bohemian Zeitgeist and brought costume jewelry to the ultimate level of high fashion. Lane's love of art history, travel and world cultures inspired wonderful pieces that are prized for their original, often bizarre designs, high quality and for their lasting brilliance. Here is a selection of Kenneth Lane's work that I absolutely adore.

Below is an Asian style coin collar necklace that is incredibly dramatic and sexy. 

                                                                                   available here

Below is one of my favorite Kenneth Lane brooches from the Mughal series of the early 1960s. 

The brooch pictured beneath is another fantastic paisley piece in the Mughal style.

                                                                                                                                           available here 

The bracelet below, according to the writings of Kenneth Lane, was one of the great style doyenne Diana Vreeland's personal favorites.  

Below is a beautiful coral colored carved resin moth necklace that was inspired by ancient Chinese symbolism. 

                                                                                   available here

In closing, here is a very beautiful photo of a young Yvette Mimieux wearing costume jewelry in a very fresh way.