Even the perfect little black dress sometimes needs a little sparkle.
that’s whyBeyond the little black dress,An exhibition running until October 29 at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, showcasing a variety of jewelery alongside more than 60 reproductions of the classic wardrobe.
Most “gems” are imitation jewelry, a term for inexpensive designs made from common metals and stones or imitation gemstones, created for fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel, Dior, and Schiaparelli.
The show charts the fashion world’s embrace of costume jewelry from the late 1920s to the present day, offering insights into jewelers’ view of the little black dress as an elegant backdrop for their often whimsical creations.
It opens with a long-sleeved silk crepe dress by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from 1926, the year “We kind of made legends in fashion history as the birth of the little black dress, and also this kind of promotion of fashion ‘jewelry’,” said Georgina Ripley, 37. Years, the main coordinator of the exhibition.
“I thought there was something there to explore, about that little black dress — with which I am now synonymous — being the canvas for these accessories,” said Mrs Ripley, although concerns about potential damage led the curators to display the jewels rather than the clothes.
One of the show’s most important pieces of jewelry is a long necklace of sterling silver and pale yellow rock crystal that Parisian jewelry house Lukès made for Chanel. Carys Wilkins, 33, who curated the jewelry collection, said the piece dates back to just a few years after Chanel opened its first jewelry counter, which happened in 1924.
She said the designer is “really credited with raising the profile of fashion jewelry,” and “he’s really credited with bringing it into the mainstream in the couture industry.”
The necklace is owned by William Wynne, 66, a jeweler in Northern Ireland who lent several pieces for the show. One of them – a brooch made by French jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger for Elsa Schiaparelli’s fall 1937 collection – depicts a gilded bronze bear with a nose ring set in glass and four imitation pearls.
Another is an unsigned rooster brooch, attributed to either Schlumberger or Jean Clement (both employed by Mrs. Schiaparelli). It is made of red and green enamel, mother of pearl, glass and gilded metal. “A lot of early couture and jewelry weren’t signed,” said Mr. Wen. “For that, we rely on documentation: photos from old magazines and various sources.”
These photographs helped Mr. Wynn source a section with three bakelite oak and gilt metal leaf, also in the gallery. “I was doing some research with old magazines and found an illustration of it on the cuff,” he said. Two of them. One on each bracelet, which is a very elegant way to wear them.
“Then I also found, in old Vogue, a hand-drawn two-page illustration of accessories, and there was an acorn,” described with a Schiaparelli clip, for sale at Saks Fifth Avenue. The museum said Clement created it for the Fall 1938 Pagan Collection.