Jeweller Verdura star-studded Hollywoodland collection.
Born of an influential Sicilian family, the career of the artist and later, jewellery designer Duke Fulco di Verdura began with a fateful introduction to fun-loving couple Cole and Linda Porter (while they were on their honeymoon in Italy, and for whom he designed the famous Night & Day cufflinks), which lead him to Paris designing textiles for Coco Chanel (who wore a pair of his Maltese Cross cuff bracelets every day) and, eventually, to Los Angeles. It’s there, in the 1930s, that Verdura created the indelible, understated curb-link watch and bracelet that Greta Garbo favoured all her life, along with pieces for Marlene Dietrich (the Lily bracelet), Slim Keith (the Acorn bracelet), Joan Crawford (countless clips and earrings), Tyrone Power (the Wrapped Heart brooch for his wife Annabella) and Tallulah Bankhead, who was known to wear Verdura’s diamond-studded Shell brooch strategically: pinned near her impressive cleavage.
The latest revival from Verdura’s design archives is called the Hollywoodland collection and features the Duke’s golden age of Hollywood-era designs; the catalogue pairs images of the historic pieces with iconic photographs of the stars wearing them. Unlike the front pages of US Weekly or even jewellery ads, the use of bygone celebrity images is not paid endorsement – just historical fact. “It’s a cultural moment, not a commercial one,” explains Nico Landrigan, whose father Ward Landrigan, the former head of Sotheby’s jewellery division, purchased Verdura the 1980s (in Canada, Verdura is available exclusively though Myles Mindham Jewellery in Toronto). “My dad sometimes says that Verdura is a little bit like a club. I don’t want it to sound exclusive, but there is an element of the story being so big and yet still so under-exposed, because we’re not a big corporation.”
“We are, despite having been doing this for however long,” Landrigan continues, “pretty naïve about it, still. We just call them up and say gosh, we’re planning this spread, we’d love to use a picture of your grandmother in this thing. They generally know who Verdura was, and we’ve been surprised and pleased to find that they’re flattered and agree. We do get permission first but we’re lucky that people don’t see us as a big firm, which we aren’t. Because the way the Oscars are done these days, a brand like [Harry] Winston pays a million bucks and Gwyneth [Paltrow] gets to wear the necklace. And then keep it!”