Caren Estesen is a fantastic former literary agent (Peter Rubie Literary Agency). Lucky for writers everywhere she is now a freelance editor at www.Carenestesen.com. What’s even better is that Caren is offering up her services for a cause: diabetes. Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure for Diabetes 2013 will have Caren’s services on the auction block beginning May 1, 2013, so if you’ve got a manuscript, she will read and critique part of it. Every writer knows that a dispassionate reader with the literary experience and know-how of a former agent is a bonus that only makes a book better. This is the kind of help that gets an author published. Caren is knowledgable, patient, kind, generous, and packs all of that into every insightful conversation I’ve ever had with her. She is a rare gem and that’s not a compliment I hand out lightly!
It was a quiet Sunday around my house. Many are since our eldest moved out, and our middle is living at college. Our not-so-little-anymore is gearing up to leave us for college next year — and I’m anticipating more too peaceful weekends with a bit of angst. “More shopping time for me” would have been my mantra but until more retailers make it easier to multitask, I think I’ll opt out and go antiquing instead. Flea markets and tag and estate sales aren’t exactly time-savers, in fact they are just the opposite, but at least there is an opportunity to uncover a real find, one that you can enjoy and relish for many years. Retail lives in the moment. We walk into stores in search of the now, the imminent, the key looks that will update our closets and our style, at least for the short term.
This is where my beef begins. Walking into, in order of the day, J. Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor I was dismayed by the idea that there is so little styling with jewelry and accessories going on. Yes, there is a mannequin here and there done up complete with necklace, bag, scarf, etc. and yet, in so many instances that’s all they offer us visually. The clothes are mostly separates, and of course, dresses, and the jewelry is tossed on one or two pieces to give us…what? Some vague notion of how to put it together? Most women need and want a little more guidance. Or a lot more. In any case, this is an opportunity missed like no other. Even cell phone case companies, like SPECK, are offering us more. The company recently sent me their CandyShell Card for my iPhone to try out. I like it much more that I anticipated. I can now do without a wallet when I go out for the evening. What a major convenience, and space saver! My only suggestion would be to make it so that you can also store business cards in it too.
Which of the above would you put together? What would the stylists at J.Crew suggest?
Returning to my gripe, as I walked through these stores I was amazed at how they are organized, like a department store, rather than an intimate boutique where the store owner has provided gentle input. Each category has a separate location: clothing, jewelry, shoes, bags, and miscellaneous items. You have to run around the store to finish a look. Isn’t that what paid stylists do? When I, Jane Do-More, shop I have some expectation that these retailers hire their own stylists to provide inspiration, so that all I have to do is to politely ask a sales associate to pull it off the rack and out of the cases or back room so that I can pony up at the register. Shouldn’t it be that easy? Ok, ok, so some companies will say in defense, “We want to give women a choice. Not dictate.” And I say, “Uh-huh. You don’t say. Well, guess what? We want suggestions, we like them, we can, of course, choose to ignore them. We have the intelligence to know when to say, “That’s not for me.”
All we want is insight, or foresight, or a nudge in the right direction. Time is a precious commodity these days and if everyone is multitasking, why shouldn’t you? I walked around J.Crew thinking, “Why isn’t that necklace shown with that shirt? That’s a great day look. Take the same shirt and necklace, and add those earrings and a blazer or that adorable sweater and you’ve got your dinner with clients for tonight.” Why aren’t the same two articles of clothing shown with different jewelry just to give customers a choice and an option? I’d be willing to bet that many would buy not just one, but both jewelry items and the clothes shown with them. Styling clothes with jewelry is something most women do on a daily basis — take the guess-work out of it! Yes, we may want to choose our own accessories much of the time, but then there are days when we all wish someone else would walk into our closets and pull it together for us. That’s where a responsive, innovative retailer can show off their stuff, this is the value-added to a retail price tag, and that’s why women will return to buy, because they are getting more for their money. The stylist is in the bag.
Helen Hunt gave us the newest red carpet statement to date: all you need is a great (fitting) dress and even better jewelry. She wore an H & M/Global Green dress and gave it the wow-factor with $700,000 worth of Martin Katz jewels. While some of us may run out and buy that dress, if we can find it, the jewels, alas, will not be forthcoming from the designer gods that usually bestow these rarities upon those whose images are brighter and bigger than ourselves. At the end of the red carpet, or the awards broadcast, I’m sure Ms. Hunt’s carriage turned into a pumpkin (or limo), and those jewels found their way back to the black-velvet lined cases from whence they came. Bet she got to keep the dress though!
I didn’t get to do my pre-Oscars trend prediction segment: it was killed. Which perhaps was a good thing because the color and interesting stone cuts I would have thought to be on the red carpet were nowhere in sight! In reviewing the images this morning, there were maybe three or four necklaces, either Victorian or Victorian-inspired, and one quite modern; all of them set with diamonds. Very nice but nothing that made me stand up and want a closer look at my monitor. Noteworthy were diamond bracelets. They were everywhere! When it comes to these Art Deco or –inspired by jewels, I prefer to see them stacked in twos or threes (please click on the image of Babe Paley above to get a better idea of how this is done). Somehow when they are worn singly, unless it is wide and eye-poppingly generous with diamonds of various cuts, they seem set adrift on a lonely length of bare skin. I love a modern, clean look, but it needs to be countered by solid punctuation, or just some punch. Proportion is everything. Yes, size in jewelry matters. Jennifer Lawrence’s Chopard diamond earrings were stunning — and perhaps a bit too old-school (12 carats) for a twenty-two year old Oscar nominee/winner. Her amazingly graceful fall on the stairs leading to the podium — she looked like a dancer who neatly lost her footing (see, learning to dance has it’s “silver lining”) was blamed on the underpinnings of her gown. I think it was the heft of those earrings.
Everyone ohhh’d and ahhh’d over the necklaces worn down the back by winners Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. I guess no one remembered the party scene in THE KING’S SPEECH where Wallis Simpson is wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond zip necklace down her back. Much preferred Ms. Lawrence’s styling to that of Ms. Hathaway. Not a fan of peek-a-boo with a neckline much less fighting for attention with the crossing straps at the back of a gown. Messy. The diamond chain of Ms. Hathaway’s necklace was a great counterpoint to her Prada and I wondered if Tiffany could have eliminated the pendant detail altogether, that would have been a significant improvement to the overall look. Wearing a bib necklace reversed to the bare backline of a dress is trending now. Not a fan. It looks like you got dressed, couldn’t find someone to help with the clasp so you turned it around and did it yourself and then forgot because, well, nature called, the kids were acting up for the babysitter before you left, or your mom called to ask, for one of many unfathomable reasons, where you had the baby naming party for your eldest who is almost twenty-four (this happened to me yesterday). In any case, unless it’s real diamonds girls, please don’t go there, it’s meant to be a decadent look, and it’s a trend that won’t last. Even Wallis Simpson did this only once and as the true story goes, hers was an authentic VCA diamond zipper, custom made and fitted for her dress.
The Next List: Project Runway’s Diana Eng (Season #2) Uses Amazing Hi-Tech Textiles and Makes Life-Like Lady Bug Pins by HandFebruary 20th, 2013
CNN’s THE NEXT LIST will feature Project Runway alum Diana Eng this Sunday, February 24th at 2:30 ET. In this clip from the broadcast, Eng explains how she creates her lady bug pins, which are modeled after real examples she has stashed away in her studio. Eng was smart, sweet, and creative, if not just the tiniest bit quirky. The best jewelry designers have their peccadilloes, Eng’s just happen to bring good luck.
It’s London Fashion Week and I had to offer up Louise Gray’s tongue-in-cheek idea of jewelry: TP, mylar balloon, rolls of tape, aluminum foil, and what appeared to be (a least on my computer) disposable tart pans. There’s definitely a pun in there somewhere, however Ms. Gray took the runway, if not by storm, at least by a DIY craft project that speaks to the spare times most of us are still experiencing.
Jewelry at New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 was unambiguous and precise. Sure, there were a couple of runways where jewelry was tossed into the mix like potpourri; the designer, or stylist, hoping the overall effect would suffice as some sort of fashion statement. However, and clearly, most designers did not feel the need to pile on the accessories as in seasons past. Neither did they feel for celebratory manifestations of glitter and gleam. There was sparkle in the clothes, and a few noteworthy asides, like belts. Rachel Roy’s belts were highly sculptural and crossed the the accessory-as-adornment line. Wes Gordon gave us the belt as ornamental armor. The concept of highlighting the waistline in something that speaks to personalty, rather than a quotidian length of leather, is worthy of exploring. Not necessarily for everyone, but hey, that’s the whole point behind adornment anyway. In the end, it’s all optional.
Some jeweled ideas gave us a nudge in the quizzical direction. You needn’t read more into Rodarte’s barbed wire necklaces and earrings. Nor that of Anna Sui’s neck tie necklaces. Perhaps these are socio-suggestive of the kind of power women are seeking. Hands off, guys, it’s our turn to run things. I was scratching my head trying to figure out the inspiration for the silver necklaces at Kimberly Ovitz. Mating Horn Beetles? The necklace was organic and strong, yet it’s message, if any, eluded me.
The venerable went their usual way. Oscar de la Renta showed wonderful clothes; the jewelry was, at best, colorful. I’m a huge proponent of the pendant earring because it’s sexy, alluring, face flattering, and all that jazz; still, I need a new way to see the women who wear these clothes. Ralph Lauren is stuck in the same time warp. It’s all lovely, but it’s so expected that it’s become cliched to the nth degree. What if the earrings weren’t long and bold but instead directed towards the modern woman who dashes into the room while working a long day, a political campaign, or giving time to one of many charities. If I’ve inadvertently left out a demographic here please let me know. Women’s roles are ever-changing and the clothes and the jewels designers create need to reflect the mantle they are wearing at the moment.
Marc Jacobs isn’t in any way a traditionalist and his Marc by Marc Jacobs runway didn’t have any jewelry to speak of, except for the fact that the models were wearing…watches? I could have mentioned him in my discussion above about the quizzical, or the venerable. He is both and neither, and only when it suits him. Why anyone under the age of thirty would need a watch isn’t the point here. It is the idea of simplicity, of a watch being enough to accessorize a look without making it about the watch itself. It’s not a gold Rolex, or white ceramic Chanel bracelet. A sleek black strap and a neat, square or rectangular dial is enough. It is, in fact, cooler and more alluring because it’s about a flick of the wrist, the adorable clothes, and knowing the time of day. The girl who lives in the moment is far more interesting than the one who spends too much time aspiring.
Speaking of mantles, there was one thought that struck me. And perhaps you will call me to the mat on this as not being jewelry or adornment. Because of the materials employed in the dress were not sartorial in the usual sense but more of jewelry, I want to mention it here. The use of abalone on the right hand (facing) shoulder on a dress from Three As Four has a brooch-like quality. Ok, embroidery can do that, of course. The placement of that material, the insides of a mollusk the ocean produces and later washes ashore, was as detailed and emphatic as any pin I’ve ever come across.
Cindy Chao The Art Jewel’s Royal Butterfly Brooch will be inducted into the Smithsonian’s Gem Hall on March 5, 2013. This will be the first Taiwanese jewelry designer represented in the museum’s permanent collection. Chao’s Black Label line is a series of one-off creations that require a minimum of two years to execute.
The butterfly, with views of it front and back provided and be sure to click on them to enlarge, is three-dimensional and mounted with 2,328 gemstones totaling seventy-seven carats. Chao employs fancy-colored gems as well as color-changing stones. This winged beauty boasts sapphires, rubies, white and colored diamonds, and tsavorite garnets. Seen under ultraviolet light, many of the gems fluoresce, becoming a polychromatic play of extraordinary blues, greens, fiery oranges and reds.
This year’s third annual gold conference hosted by Initiatives in Art & Culture (IAC) from April 11–13 is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in jewelry. The roster of speakers is a rare and impressive gathering of industry icons and notables, from fashion editor favorites like Irene Neuwirth and Waris to master studio jewelers George Sawyer, Kent Raible, Namu Cho, and Henry Dunay. Great Britain’s Gemmologoical Society chief, Jack Ogden, will be on hand, as will Christine Miller, Executive Director of Ethical Metalsmiths, and executives from Van Cleef & Arpels, Buccellati, David Webb, and Cartier are also participating. Gold jewelry is never far from the discussion of style, design, and what’s new. Emerging talents Elizabeth Garvin, Annie Fensterstock, and Stephanie Albertson will explore their approaches to gold, and a discussion about the potential of incubator-stage technologies will offer insights into cutting-edge techniques in jewelry design.
A talk about jewelry today must include environmental concerns. The need for responsible mining and refining as well as environmental and social sustainability, the chain of custody and related requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are planned topics for conference lectures. Anyone who works in this industry or is touched by it should have these lectures penciled in! To understand the importance of these topics is vital to keeping current as well move forward in tandem with the consumer; where and how gold is obtained has become a pitch point in jewelry sales.
Receptions and opportunities for book purchases will be included in the conference. Until February 28, 2013, IAC is offering Jewelhistory.com readers a first opportunity to purchase tickets at a preferred rate of $250. Thereafter, tickets may be purchased for $350. Be sure to use the code JEWELHISTORY when signing up for the conference at www.acteva.com/go/gold.
For those of you who didn’t see the jewelry Mrs. Obama wore to the 2013 Inaugural Ball, here are a few images. The pieces were designed for her by the extraordinary Kimberly McDonald. Loved the idea of using rose-cut diamonds. Rose-cut stones offer a softer sparkle and gave the pieces something of a timeless, vintage(-ish) feel yet they were completely contemporary and organic in character. A nice mix done with a deft hand. Mrs. Obama managed to appear comfortable, glamorous, and even relaxed despite the fact that the world was watching. I was so happy that American jewelry and fashion design were represented in a way that celebrates them together — in their natural synergy.
Beginning January 23, 2013 and running through February 2, 2014, The Frick Collection in New York will exhibit a collection of eleven clocks and fourteen watches from the bequest of Winthrop Kellogg Edey together with five clocks lent by collector, Horace Wood Brock. Entitled Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection, the show examines the beauty, art, and craft of watchmaking, from the early sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Telling time prior to the mid-fifteenth century wasn’t easy. First there were sundials, which required a fairly cloudless day and a broad expanse of uninterrupted turf. For cloudy days, there was the water clock or clepsydra (Greek meaning “to steal water”). They were used to measure the time spent during a variety of activities, including, during the 4th century BCE, use as a stop-watch for imposing a time limit on clients’ visits in Athenian brothels. Perhaps Leonard da Vinci had the best insight into mankind’s motivation when he said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” Ultimately, neither the sun nor the running of water proved to be accurate keepers of time. The minutes, as we know them now, still ticked away, with a few more or less slipping by unaccounted for.
It was the ancient Egyptians who divided the solar year into 360 days and nights. Greeks and Romans adopted the number twelve to divide up periods of daylight, depending of course, on the season and the amount of light each day enjoyed. An urbanized Europe demanded a more reliable way to tell time. No one knows who first invented the mechanical clock, however by the mid-fifteen century a mechanism, known as an escapement, was developed. Once the use of springs were employed in an escapement, time keeping became somewhat more accurate, and more accessible to those who could afford to own a clock or a watch.
The show illustrates examples of clocks from as early as the sixteenth century, such as a gorgeous fusee gilt-brass table clock made by Pierre de Fobis about 1530, a rare, surviving work of this famous French clock maker. The absolutely stunning pendant watch shown above was made in Switzerland around 1685; the movement was created by Henry Arlaud and the enamel case by Pierre Huaud II. The case with its vivid coloration and painterly composition was inspired by The Toilet of Venus by French artist Simon Vouet. According to the The Frick Collection, there is doubt that Huaud ever actually saw the painting himself, but instead copied an engraving created by Vouet’s son-in-law Michel Dorigny in 1651.
The show includes several important eighteenth and nineteenth-century clocks and watches by the renowned Abraham-Louis Brequet and his son, Antoine-Louis Breguet. Most notable among the elder Brequet’s patrons were Louis XVI and Napoleon. The Frick Collection is remarkable place to visit as it is internationally recognized as a premier museum and research center. The Frick is home to distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts.The collection was assembled by the Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) and is housed in his former residence on Fifth Avenue, which is one of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions. Walking through it’s elegant halls, visitors can experience masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. The museum opened in 1935 and has continued to acquire works of art since Mr. Frick’s death.