Sunday, May 22, 2016

Does Borrowed Bling Bother You?

Naomi Watts in a Bulgari necklace at Cannes 2016. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain.

There is an interesting article over at The New York Times called “When It Comes to Red-Carpet Jewelry, ‘Elegance Is Refusal’” by Bronwyn Cosgrave, about all the high jewelry at the Cannes Film Festival. A captioned photo of Elizabeth Taylor at Cannes in 1957 in her diamond tiara, and other gems, claims it was her showing up dressed this way that helped usher in the idea that Cannes was all about high-wattage glamour. The opening paragraph too, posits that the story of Liz swimming in a pool in Cap Ferrat wearing this tiara when hubby Mike Todd presented her with a magnificent Cartier ruby and diamond parure, was instrumental in burnishing the idea that the Cannes Film Festival meant jewels, the bigger the better. (For a recap of Liz receiving this Cartier set, in her own words, click here.)

Liz at Cannes in 1957. Photo by Ullsten Bild/Getty Images.

French fashion editor/stylist Carine Roitfeld says she doesn’t like that the actresses who show up on the red carpet at Cannes are paid to wear such big jewelry. I don’t mind that so much. I’d do it too, if I were, say, Naomi Watts, above, so resplendent recently in an Armani Privé gown and Bulgari jewels. And it was interesting to read about the various personal pieces owned by Ms. Roitfeld and other stylists. I would expect those gals to wear their own jewelry, why would they be in borrowed finery? They are the stylists! Most people don’t even know their names, let alone what they look like. It seems to me that the publicity garnered by their wearing jewelry from the big houses would be wasted (in my very humble opinion). I think the most famous stylist in the world is probably still Rachel Zoe (and I bet she owns the jewelry she wears).

What I thought was a more ridiculous premise was pointing out that Rooney Mara wore little or no jewelry during awards season this year—is the writer trying to suggest that jewelry-shunning Rooney is a purer person than the ladies (like Cate Blanchett!) who wore big gems on loan from the big houses? Does that mean, in addition to opting for no jewelry, Rooney also bought the Givenchy dress she wore to the Oscars? I bet not! (If she did, let me know in the comments, and I will stand corrected.)

Cate & Rooney at the 2016 Oscars. AFP Photo.

I realize that all red carpet dressing is a fantasy so I expect it to be borrowed—the gowns, the jewels, the bags, the shoes, even the dates! If the actresses get paid to wear it too, I say, Why not? If it weren’t for red carpet dressing, most of us would never get to experience, in any format, the pleasure of seeing the most beautifully designed and crafted jewelry pieces on the planet. I don’t know about you, but the thrill of that never gets old to me. It is wonderful to see what such talented jewelry designers, from any house, in any decade, were able to dream up and create. The fun is enhanced by seeing these amazing jewels worn by the lovely actresses we recognize from stage and screen.

If actresses want to add their own jewelry to their red carpet look I’m all for it, but let’s face it, can you name one actress who actually owns even one piece of jewelry we ever see? The only one I can think of is Jennifer Tilly. If she ever comes back to the Oscars I beg her to wear her glorious Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. brooch, seen below. (Liz also owned the same brooch, btw, and Jennifer tried to win it at auction and was unsuccessful. She found the one she does own at a different auction and spent $80,000 on it.) If you know of actresses who turn up wearing their own gems, please let me know!

Jennifer Tilly in Crazy About Tiffany’s. She owns that stunning Schlumberger for Tiffany brooch she wears!

Until there are more ladies like Jennifer, who has a true passion for jewelry (like Liz) and wears stunning creations from her personal collection, I vote that the red carpet stays awash in borrowed bling. Don’t you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Duke & Duchess of Windsor at the Moulin Rouge Night Club in the 1950s

The Duke & Duchess of Windsor dancing at the Moulin Rouge Night Club in the 1950s. Uncle Johnny on sax!

When my good friend Rosie sent me this great photo of her husband’s Uncle Johnny on sax playing with a band that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor danced to, I knew I wanted to share it with everyone. With her kind permission I am able to do just that!

Rosie tells me the photo was taken in the early to mid-1950s at the Moulin Rouge Night Club, in West Palm Beach, Florida, probably in winter, which was the height of the season there. Uncle Johnny is the dapper man with the saxophone in the back. I loved what Rosie wrote of him:

The handsome Johnny on sax!

“Uncle Johnny was a saxophonist much of his life and worked in many famous and upscale clubs, mostly in New York City and Florida. He also played the sax with the orchestra at the Waldorf-Astoria in the 50s. I loved his stories of the rich and famous who went to the nightclubs he played in. The moment I was introduced to him by my then-boyfriend (who became my husband), I knew we were kindred spirits.

“His two greatest loves were music and golf. He passed away in the late 80s on the golf course while playing golf.”

How great to get some background on Johnny! I have always thought the men who played in bands and orchestras in that era must have led some pretty interesting lives. Can you imagine the people they met and the traveling they did and the parties they must’ve had or attended?!?

A magnified shot to show the jewelry better, hers AND his!

As for the Duke and Duchess, their expressions in this photo crack me up because they both look so bored! You know my jewelry-addled brain could not help but immediately hone in on what pieces the Duchess had on and I thought it would be fun to try to identify what she is wearing in the picture.

The 1946 Cartier bangle. From the book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, 1987.

The bracelet was very easy—it is her 1946 Cartier bangle of carved sapphires, ruby beads, brilliant-cut diamonds and diamond baguettes, all set in 18 karat gold. Stunning! It was part of her collection that went to auction at Sotheby’s in 1987. The front was designed as a peacock feather and the center sapphire has a female profile carved into it, surrounded by a foliate border.

The original illustration of the Cartier bangle. Superb artistry!

The earrings were also easy to identify. They are her Van Cleef & Arpels mystery-set ruby and diamond earrings shaped like ivy leaves. The book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner does not state what year they are from, but my guess is the mid-1930s. They are magnificent. These earrings also went to auction in 1987. I weep, I think these earrings are just so gorgeous.

Also from the book by Culme & Rayner. I love these Van Cleef & Arpels earrings so much.

A necklace by Cartier once owned by the Duchess of Windsor.

The necklace was harder for me to figure out, and so was what looked to be a brooch pinned to the bodice of her gown, on her right hand side. It was not listed in the book. I searched around the internet and think I have figured it out: it is a Cartier-designed necklace, possibly from 1949, commissioned by the Duchess (or maybe the Duke) and intended to be Indian-inspired. It features ruby beads and detachable brooches that can be worn front or back and are connected to the ruby necklace by several slender gold chains. I think that is the brooch that is visible in the picture, and the gold chains would be hard for a camera to pick up on film. I read online that Cartier created the brooch from the tassels and clasp in 1963. I also read that the Duchess gave the brooch to Princess Michael of Kent as a wedding present in 1978, which would explain why it was not in the book. I have also read that it is now called the “Cherries Brooch,” so I am including a picture of it that I found on the web, just so you can see all the glorious color!

Now a brooch owned by Princess Michael of Kent!

All of those rubies on Wallis must have looked amazing. A glittery red heaven! Everything I read or learned about this necklace/brooch combination was from online sources, which I always take with a big grain of salt, so if you have any concrete information, do share it with us in the comment section. I love being a jewelry sleuth, but I also like to have my facts straight!

As for the Duke, I believe he is wearing two Cartier Trinity rings stacked on top of each other on his pinky finger. They appear to be of two different widths, one set a bit bigger than the other. He was frequently photographed wearing them this way, as seen in the photo below.

The Duke of Windsor with his Cartier Trinity rings. It looks like he is wearing two of them!

Let me know what you think of the jewelry on both the Duke and the Duchess. If you have any stories about what it was like to be in an orchestra or band in the 1950s, I am all ears!

Thank you so much to Rosie for sharing this photo with me so I could share it with all of you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Naomi Watts in Armani Privé and Bulgari Jewels in Cannes 2016

Naomi Watts at the Cannes Film Festival, May 2016. Photo by Andreas Rentz.

Naomi Watts and her stylist Jeanann Williams seem to have found the perfect formula for Naomi to wear on the red carpet. It’s this: Armani Privé gown + Bulgari jewels + L’Oreal makeup. It equals a glamorous look that she showcased last week at the Cannes Film Festival. Jeanann is selecting perfect colors for Naomi to wear in both clothing and gems and this was yet another look of hers I loved. There have been so many this year!

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain.

I really like this silhouette on Naomi. It suits her and it seems both easy to wear and to walk in. I am, of course, crazy about the necklace, which is a one-of-a-kind high jewelry necklace, according to the Instagram account of Bulgari. I would not say no to those big diamond studs either.

Jewelry by Bulgari. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain.

Great makeup on Naomi. Photo by Ian Gavan.

I think the makeup was perfection as well. I did love the deep berry lip the makeup artist Tyron Machhausen gave Naomi for the SAG Awards in January, but now that it is May and the red carpet is in Cannes, I like that the entire makeup look is very subtle and not overpowering. I think it lets the necklace and dress be the star of the show! The makeup was by Charlotte Willer. Do check out her Instagram account and scroll down to see a stunning shot of both the makeup on Naomi and the necklace!

Naomi and a ton of photographers. Yikes! Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the idea of walking a long red carpet with dozens of photographers in tuxedos calling my name and taking my photo sounds entirely too daunting for me. I hope Naomi had a glass of bubbly in the car ride over, I would need at least that to deal with the flare-up of nerves that would come my way knowing I would be facing people with long lenses and possibly longer memories! Could you walk the red carpet at Cannes with ease? Let me know in the comments!