October 14 begins a roughly 2 month celebration of one of the great brands and masters of what is today referred to as “haute joallier.” Verdura is one of the most highly respected and iconic jewelers of the 20th century and still retains its status and its place in the hierarchy of fine jewelers worldwide. This once in a lifetime exhibit has been curated by Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera along with their daughter Patricia Lansing. This rare opportunity affords the viewer “face time” with some of the most incredible and legendary creations ever to have been turned out by the Verdura workrooms. Many pieces have been “loaned back” to the company so that they may be exhibited for this occasion.
Having been afforded a one on one with Nico Landrigan (CEO) a while ago, it seemed highly appropriate to reissue and update the results of our meeting. As one of the great highlights of that meeting, Mr. Landrigan (CEO) was kind of enough to offer me the chance to actually ”fondle” Mademoiselle Chanel’s Maltese cross cuffs which were retrieved from the company vaults. If one ever has experienced a true fashion moment, well that was mine!
Besides, Mlle. Chanel, Duke Fulco di Verdura was more than acquainted with the likes of Diana V., Greta G., Babe P., Marlene D., Doris D., the Porters, a few Astors, a Hepburn, and countless other luminaries who remained loyal clients during their lifetimes. Many of the original designs that once belonged to these ladies are still available provided that you shop at the salon above Fifth Avenue in NYC or at one of rare points of sale worldwide.
Lest we forget to mention the Duchess of Windsor, Mona Bismarck and Millicent Rogers; if none of these names are familiar to you; you can just be awed by the genius of the design that goes into every design and the exquisite pieces that are still turned out by “the jeweler to the stars.”
As Mr. Landrigan said “our jewelry is like art for the body” and I must say it is the equivalent of owing any Monet or Picasso as they are all meant to be treasured in much the same ways.
Here are a few facts you might not be aware of:
Did you know that the “Duke” was introduced to Coco Chanel by Cole Porter and his wife?
Did you know that the first Maltese cross cuffs that were sold in the Chanel Boutique somewhere around 1930 and were “costume jewelry?”
Did you know that Chanel originally hired Verdura as textile designer?
Did you know that the original Verdura salon (1939) was at 712 Fifth Avenue, just a few doors down from the present 745, and the opening was backed by the Porters and Vincent Astor?
So there are a few choice tidbits of background about the profusely and prodigiously talented Signor Verdura. Now it is even more interesting to know that since the Landrigans took ownership of the legendary name and archive, that business remains an open secret amongst the cognoscenti as there is less that points of sale in sale in the world and 2 of them are in New York City. They have no wish to turn the name Verdura into a Tiffany&Co. or even a Cartier which would have meant that the product might be classified as a more “mass produced” entity. This rather brilliant mind set /business model is what allows the brand to retain its allure, cachet and mystique which are coveted qualities in today’s marketplace for any luxury category.
The salon in New York allows the visitor to see the entire world that encompasses the brand and its products. You can see sterling purse pens and pencil sharpeners to the most elaborate historical pieces that are hidden away in the archives. Needless to say, the aura of the salon invites the serious and not the curiosity seeker that are found street level at its neighbors. Just as its beginnings, Verdura remains unrivaled when it comes to original design and astounding workmanship. To this day the name still reflects consummate good taste and with its ownership comes the privilege of possessing a piece of great history. All Verdura designs have descended from the hand of the eponymous designer.
October 14 through December 23 .., 745 Fifth Avenue