This fall could be known as the moment when the term “fashion as art” truly takes over—particularly in the world of jewelry. From Dada to Deco, one needn’t have a degree in Art History to appreciate the type of mastery shown in this year’s collections.
Blurring the lines between art and design is certainly not new. The sartorial set has always flirted with museum masters from obscure interpretations (Cristobal Baleciaga vis-a-vis Diego Velazquez) to downright homages (Yves Saint Laurent’s “Mondrian” dress circa 1965). Conversely, modern art pioneers have a history of creating their own wearable masterpieces. To wit, Alexander Calder fashioned avant-garde necklaces out of brass and silver wire. Harry Bertoia crafted abstract rings, brooches and pendants from metal due to the lack of materials during World War II—some of which became precursors to the larger sculptures he created later in his career such as this silver, ebony and ivory ring circa 1940. (The Italian sculptor also createdwedding bands for Mid Century designers Charles and Ray Eames as well as the architect Edmund Bacon.) And in the late 1960s, photographer Man Ray famously created twisted gold “lampshade” earrings, which style icon Catherine Deneuve gracefully donned in a memorable portrait.
Today jewelers are taking artistic license to the next level—in some cases offering literal recreations of the most iconic oeuvres. Take young London designer Delfina Delettrez whose witty lip earrings recall Man Ray’s lip prints and Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1930s button sculptures. New York-based designer Wilfredo Rosado’s Group 4 collection evokes miniature Mondrian tableaux for the hand. Even Oscar de la Renta put out chunky, mixed stone earrings and cuffs for his fall and resort collections calling to mind Picasso’s Cubist period.
This season, why not test-drive the newest incarnations of art-as-adornment? For Donald Judd fans, Geneva native Alexandra Jefford’s minimalist linear rings will do.(The Central St. Martins alum regularly exhibits her work in art galleries around the world.) Lovers of the Baroque-era will appreciate the decadence of Italian designer Diego Percossi Papi’s ornate keepsakes. While Salvador Dali enthusiasts will flock to Florentine Stefano Alinari’s neo-Surrealist rings. The best part? Even if you’re still building your bundle of Murakamis and Monets, with these pieces you’ll have a curated collection all of your own.
Photos: Photo: (from left) Harry Bertoia Ring in Ebony, Ivory and Silver (1940); Harry Bertoia Untitled Sculptural Form; Man Ray A l’Heure de l’Observatoire Les Amoureux,1933; Man Ray ‘Pendants Pending’ Earrings, 1970; Catherine Deneuve with Lampshade Earrings, Photo by Man Ray, 1966; Delfina Delettrez Eye & Lip Earrings (F/W 2012) Bottom Photo: (from left) Wilfredo Rosado Group 4 Collection Earrings; Piet Mondrian Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1921; Alexander Calder Hanging Mobile, 1951; Salvador Dali Lugubrious Game, 1929; Alinari Stefano Pandora Ring