November 2011

IMAGE Screen Gems

Verdura’s celebrity jewelry from Hollywood’s Golden Age makes an encore for a new generation  by BOOTH MOORE

  • Marlene Dietrich
  • The Lily bracelet, inspired by Marlene Dietrich
  • Greta Garbo and the curb-link watch she inspired
  • Slim Keith and the gold belt-buckle cuff

Jeweler Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura, attained international fame by collaborating for eight years with the house of Chanel on its fine-jewelry collection. He reworked pieces that were gifts to Coco—like the cuff made from a Maltese cross given to her by the Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia, which continues to be a recurring motif of the Chanel brand. After his last runway collection for Chanel in Paris in 1934, Verdura set sail for America, eventually mingling with the beau monde of New York, Palm Beach and, eventually, Hollywood.

While in L.A., Verdura often stayed with Cole Porter and, as he did with Madame Coco, the charming Sicilian duke, who died in 1978, sat alongside the likes of Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead and Tyrone Power, designing pieces for them at the drafting table by day and socializing with them at dinner parties by night.

This fall, the New York jewelry house that bears the Verdura name celebrates that golden era with the Hollywoodland Collection, featuring about 20 re-creations of designs made for his famous clients.

Take the flowery diamond, platinum and gold Lily bracelet he made for Marlene Dietrich ($83,500), the perfect foil for her masculine-meets-feminine style. Or the mother-of-pearl, diamond and gold curb-link watch ($26,500) that was inspired by a constant in Greta Garbo’s stunningly simple wardrobe.

Equally understated is the black jade and gold belt-buckle cuff ($27,500), a tribute to Slim Keith, whose pared-down chic seems particularly fashion relevant right now.

The collection is available until Oscar Sunday, at which time it is highly likely one of today’s stars will be wearing a Verdura on the red carpet, making it her own signature piece. $4,950–$375,000,