Art Historian & Collector

Tell us the story of how and when you started with your career as a historian and collector?
My career stared in 1980, when during my honey moon in USA, my husband, who is an antique dealer, bought about 200 pieces of fashion jewellery in sterling silver because they were so cheap that the value of just the silver was double compared to their price, so my husband had decided to buy them and melt them and sell the silver in lingots. Though, when I saw the two hundred pieces together ready to be melted, I asked my husband to leave me so time so that I could see how much one could sell them as finished products. A very good friend of mine, a socialite in Milano, offered 50 euro for each one of them instead of the 10 that my husband could eventually get for the silver, so that’s was my start! Immediately after deciding to trade fashion jewellery, I went to New York and then Providence to find out the history of American Fashion Jewellery and from there I started to get involved in the subject and learn more and more.

Which jewelry designer/brand gave you the most inspiration in your career?
Probably the jewellery of Schiaparelli, from 1935 till 1950, because it is very unpredictable and “surrealistic” in the sense that its subjects are very unusual, ironical and never seen before in jewellery.

What do you think is the future of fashion jewelry compared with contemporary jewelry?
The difference will be cost: the more we think of future, the more we have to reduce costs of each item, because more and more people want that type of item and therefore there have to be many and very inexpensive, so to beat inEurope  the challenge of less expensive workmanship (India China Korea Taiwan) due to lower salaries of the people involved in the business.

What inspired you to choose this career?
As I explained above, it was a mere accident that brought me to choose to get involved in fashion jewellery. My background of art historian (where I graduated) helped me to understand styles and therefore dates and countries of origin, so I applied what I know already in a subject that up to that date nobody had dealt with and I started the big business of vintage fashion jewellery that exploded mostly in Italy and Great Britain in the second half of the 1980.

Which Bijoux piece fascinate you the most and why?
The fashion jewellery piece I like the most is the one I do not understand and I do not know where to place (which year? which maker? Which country?) For me it is a challenge and I give to that piece all my attention till I understand where possibly it comes from in its date, then once I have understood it, it becomes as the others,another item to dispose of: photograph it, make a technical record, then sell it if possible.

Tell us something about your books and publication?
My first publication about this subject was in 1987, “Joys of Hollywood”: Italian after the war have been in love with USA and everything that was American, so that title attracted a lot of simpathy and interest. All the magazines covered the exhibition (in Venice,  in an Art gallery) and the catalogue accompanying it (as I said, Joys of Hollywood). The jewellery was very well sold the the American Vintage jewellery became very popular, expecially for the “Made in Italy” fashion of the ’80 that was very much inspired to 1940 and 1950 American fashion, exactly when that jewellery on sale in Italy was made in Usa. Then the second book was “Jewels of Fantasy”, another catalogue for an exhibition held 1991 in the Museo Teatrale Alla Scala in Milano and then in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the State Museum of Berlin and Zurich, in the Los Angeles County Museum, in the Fashion Intitute of Techonology in New York, in the Rhode Island Museum of Design and many other museums and public sites in the Far East and Middle East. The exhibition was an overview on the history of fashion jewellery of the 20th century and was developped by me as editor and by other 5 experts and had an enormous success all over the world (it travelled till the end of the Nineties)

Which decade do you think is the most important to fashion?
Between the 1920 and 1930 because women are liberated by corsets and can show their bodies in a way nearer to the way it is in reality and not just imaged by Couturiers men.

What are your upcoming plans or projects?
I am starting to write a book on Chanel jewellery of the period in which Mademoiselle Chanel was alive.

Tell us something about your first exhibition?
My first exhibition was “Joys of Hollywood” and I talked about it already.

What suggestion would you like to give to upcoming designers?
To sign their pieces, to adopt a style to be as much as possible recognizable, to dare, to be patient, to keep track of what they do so to allow historian in 50 years to be able to write about what they did.
Posted by : Amal Kiran Jana from Milan at 02:11 PM