Monday, August 29, 2016

On My Mind: US Open Tennis 2016, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Gems, and Yellow

Andy Murray practices prior to the start of the 2016 US Open. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images.

It’s time for US Open tennis and I had so much fun attending in 2014 that I decided to go again this year. Unlike in 2014, when I knew I would be seeing Roger Federer play, I bought tickets for an evening session without knowing who will be on the court that night—it’s less expensive that way, I have found—but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get to see one major player, either for the ladies or the men. Andy Murray is in the middle of an amazing summer, having won Wimbledon in July (so proud of him!) and being a back-to-back Olympic gold medal winner in Rio. I would love to get a chance to see him play in person!

A 1967 floral brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels from the MMP collection. I weep! Photo courtesy of the Hillwood Estate.

I was very excited to learn by browsing on the Hillwood Estate site that there will be a major exhibition of the jewelry owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post next summer called Spectacular! Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection. Hooray! Hillwood Estate is in Washington D.C. and was one of MMP’s many homes. This exhibit of her jewelry will cover almost sixty pieces once owned by the cereal heiress and businesswoman, from houses like Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, David Webb, and Verdura.

One of the things I learned last year from the Van Cleef & Arpels lecture about Great American Jewelry collectors was that MMP gave a lot of her jewelry to museums. The jewelry writer Ruth Peltason, who moderated that night, even made light of it, “She kept giving things away!” Sure enough, the exhibit will include pieces still owned by MMP’s estate, as well as items that were once owned by her that will either be on loan from the museums she gave them to or from private collections. I do believe I saw some of her pieces in the 2011 exhibit Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, like the 1967 mystery-set ruby and diamond floral brooch, above, which MMP purchased in 1969, but I am thrilled to have another chance to see them in person and to view things I have only seen in books, such as her carved emerald and diamond brooch made by Cartier London in the 1920s. It is enormous! She wears it in the portrait with her daughter Dina.

I love little Dina (who would grow up to become the actress Dina Merrill) in her yellow dress. Adorable!

A portrait of MMP with her daughter, Dina.

Speaking of yellow, the theme for September’s “How I Wear My” is devoted to that sunshine shade. I an normally not a big fan of that color for clothes, but a yellow dress that really caught my eye (and has stayed in my memory) is the Louis Vuitton gown worn by the lovely Alicia Vikander at the Academy Awards this past February. I thought she looked beautiful in it.

Alicia Vikander in yellow at the Academy Awards 2016. Photo by Jason Merritt.

I finally watched “The Danish Girl” last weekend and I understand why Alicia took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. My definition of a worthy recipient of that award is an actress who steals every scene she is in and Alicia did just that! The movie was visually beautiful and very compelling. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it!

If you would like to join Adrienne and me for “How I Wear My: Yellow,” send your pictures to us at howiwearmy@yahoo.com by September 12, 2016.

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend and if you are headed out to Queens for the Open, let me know!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jackie’s Pearls

Jackie with her pearls and the mail, September 21, 1960. Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

Back in February, when I saw the Vigée Le Brun exhibit at the Met, I was intrigued to learn that one of the portraits of Marie Antoinette, “Marie Antoinette with a Rose,” from 1783, is owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick. A Marie Antoinette painting not on loan from Versailles? Owned instead by Americans? I didn’t know who the Resnicks were at the time, but a Google search said they were the owners of POM Wonderful, Fiji Water, Teleflora, and, for over twenty years, the Franklin Mint. I suddenly understood how they came to own such an important portrait of the last queen of France! I decided to read Lynda’s book Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business (with Francis Wilkinson).

The 1783 Marie Antoinette portrait owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

What does this have to do with Jackie’s Pearls? The Resnicks are the people who paid over $211,000 at auction for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s faux triple strand of pearls in 1996 and Lynda writes about it in her book in a chapter titled, “The One True Copy of Jackie Kennedy’s Real Fake Pearls.”

A great business book by Lynda Resnick.

“You know the pearls I’m talking about. Jacqueline Kennedy was so often photographed wearing those pearls that they seemed a natural extension of her—an integral piece of her legendary grace and charm. She wore them to state dinners. She wore them on trips to India, Greece, and Japan. She wore them when she greeted the high and mighty and when she was looking after the children. Believe me—you know those pearls! But what you may not know is that the pearls were fake. Jacqueline Bouvier purchased them at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1950s for about $35.00.”

The book People & Pearls: The Magic Endures by Ki Hackney and Diana Edkins says Jackie’s pearl necklace was by Kenneth Jay Lane, though that tome has several errors in it, so who knows if that claim is correct. If you have any confirmed information let me know in the comments.

Wearing the necklace in India, 1962. Photo by Arthur Rickerby.

When Lynda realized Jackie’s pearls were coming up for auction she decided they were the only thing she wanted to bid on and she warned her husband Stewart they were going to go for an insanely high price when the gavel finally came down at Sotheby’s. She wanted to make sure he believed as much as she did that they were going to be worth it. She writes,

“I spread photos across Stewart’s desk—Jackie in the pearls here, Jackie in the pearls there, John-John on Jackie’s lap pulling at those same pearls.

‘She wore them in nearly every picture ever taken,’ I said. ‘They are the icon of the icon.’”

John pulling at his mother’s pearls in 1962. One of the most famous pictures taken of the two of them! Getty Images.

Once the Resnicks were the winners of these prized faux pearls they sent guards from the Franklin Mint to retrieve them from New York. Lynda writes,

“They delivered them to me at work. Everyone stood around and watched the unveiling. The pearls were still in their original silk-lined box from Bergdorf’s. As I opened it, I caught a faint scent of Jackie’s perfume. It was a chilling experience. My eyes welled up as I thought about what that divine creature had meant to me and my country.”

She goes on to write that the Franklin Mint made exact reproductions of the 139 European glass faux pearls, color-matched them to the originals, and had them hand-knotted on silk cords.

“The circle of was closed by a silver art deco clasp featuring nine period-style rhinestones…They were as close to the real fake Jackie pearls that any combination of art and technology could muster.”

The Franklin Mint sold more than 130,000 copies of the pearl necklace at $200 each and grossed $26 million. How’s that for return on investment? The Resnicks donated the original necklace to the Smithsonian Museum, where it is now part of the permanent collection.

Jackie’s name scrolled across the front of the box.

I did not buy a set from the Franklin Mint when they were originally released but I did just purchase them from eBay for only a few dollars more than what Jackie paid for hers back in the 1950s! They are heavy, well-made, and very elegant. They came in a sturdy velveteen-lined box with Jackie’s named emblazoned on the front, and accompanied by a short pamphlet with photos showing Jackie wearing the originals, as well as a Certificate of Authenticity. I hope to get a lot of use out of them this fall and beyond! It was so interesting to read Lynda’s account of how the Franklin Mint acquired the originals and all the care and attention to detail that she and her team put into making a fabulous recreation. Thank you to Lynda and the Franklin Mint!

A recreation of Jackie’s original necklace.

A detailed shot of the clasp.

The brochure and Certificate of Authenticity that came with the pearls.

Jackie during Pope Paul VI’s 1965 visit to the US. Photo by Henry Groskinsky.

This summer I have really noticed how often pearls are worn by women of all colors and ages, from Olympic athletes in Rio to ladies walking down the street in Brooklyn, and how pearls never fail to make all of them look sophisticated, feminine, and beautiful. Jackie is famous for having said, “Pearls are always appropriate,” and her words are just as true today as they were when she was wearing hers every chance she got.

Let me know if you happen to own this same necklace or have read Lynda’s book.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Glamour at the Rio 2016 Olympics

Gisele at the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony, August 5, 2016. Getty Photo.

I think everyone who reads my blog knows I look for glamour wherever I can find it and I’m definitely finding doses of it at the Rio Olympics! Gisele Bündchen looked so beautiful doing her catwalk stride to “The Girl from Ipanema” at the Opening Ceremony last week, wearing a gold sequined dress by Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitz. Who better to make that walk (it must have felt like forever to her) than the ultimate Brazilian beauty! The song is one of my all-time favorites so it was a thrill to hear it performed live.

That smile! Getty Photo.

Laurie Hernandez flies above the balance beam, August 7, 2016. Photo by Tom Pennington.

I’ve also been loving the women’s gymnastics team makeup look. Those girls go in for gold eyeshadow, a dramatic cat-eye liner, and stud earrings, sometimes in multiple pairs. My favorite makeup is on Laurie Hernandez, whose eyes seem bigger than the rest of her body. I love that she opts for simple pearl studs!

Big eyes, big pearls! Photo by Ezra Shaw.

It’s hard for swimmers to glam out but I love it that every one of them seem to have bright nails, of all shades, and I’ve noticed both the ring manicure, as well as nail art, on the gals in the pool. Kathleen Baker, who came in second in the 100m backstroke despite having Crohn’s Disease, looked adorable with her stars and stripes manicure, her pearl studs, and that beautiful smile as she held up her Olympic silver medal.

Nail art and a silver medal: Kathleen Baker with her hardware for the 100m Backstroke . AP Photo.

Let me know if you are watching the Olympics and what your favorite moment has been so far. I can’t wait to see what the track babes are wearing next week. I’m predicting long nails, possibly bejeweled, layered necklaces, colored streaks in their hair, and of course, lots of fierce eye makeup. GO USA!