WILD WOMEN 1990

02Mar09

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My grandmother never wore pants.  Living The Vie Sauvage of the 60’s and the 70’s opened many possibilities for women skirted for centuries (yes, take that in multiple ways…) and all her friends readily took to the look and comfort of freedom of pants. Her lady-like figure however remained in full dress and pearls, even in the middle of Summer.  That idea of holding a Bastion of Elegance remains a strong ideal for me, especially remembering her easily enjoying the such “non-ladylike” pleasures as a crass joke, a cocktail during Passover dinner or the obnoxious attentions of a man.

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Her lipstick shade always that matched every color of her dresses (I was especially fascinated by the mysterious “BLUE”-entitled lipstick which was actually pink but specified for blue toned outfits) was as much an inspiration to me as discovering Diana Vreeland’s famous utterance that “Pink is the Navy Blue of India.”  Here in the photo which has inspired me since the day I saw it…and my own environment of color upon color upon color.

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Some women always retain their sense of elegance no matter what they wear and historically, if you were inclined to separate yourself from the the pack of common wild folk..be elegant, a diva, to live La Vie noble, you would be choose in those days to be dressed by Bill Blass.  Bill dressed socialites such as Nan Kempner, Chessy Raynor, Pat Buckley, Casey Ribicoff, Nancy Kissinger and others.  His house closing this past December marked the end of an era.

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But for one season, Bill met Wild.

Flash forward to the 1990’s, I am a jewelry designer and my meeting with the man who was elegance himself, Bill Blass. Being tall and sweeping into a room helps however he was, more importantly, gracious, mannered and kingly.  We were asked to design accessories for three of Bill’s runway collections and were fortunate to dress supermodels such as Iman and Sheila Tennant in our nature morphic necklaces. We dressed-up for Bill’s Fashion Week shows at the Pierre with ladylike respect while later indulging in our glittery, crass and loud evenings in the East Village…another kind of naked elegance.

bill-blass-columnEarrings of pink sequins and gold in the ameoba-like shapes of ocean waves accessorized Bill Blass’s two tone pink column.

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We made navy blue silk shawls for Bill with silver beads coursing through.

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We made long windy necklaces that topped silken evening columns.

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And silver rubbery tubes like Jupiter rings.  Thankfully, Bill, being a man of a country manor, completely understood the appeal that Wild can have meeting a Lady.  Two other designers, Mary McFadden and Oscar de la Renta also went wild and put pieces from our collection on their runways.

The style and sensibility of our wild and nature inspired collection, JAMP, which I co-designed with Mare McClellan (now a painter of mystical and Rothko-like paintings ) attracted the attention of Sportswear International, the apparel trade magazine.  Asked to style a story on new fabrics inspired by elemental patterns, a crew came out to our farm in Bucks County.  The photographer, Adam Fuss (now an art photographer) and the crew complained incessantly about the insect life and summer, yet the results were beautiful.

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Interesting the elemental elegance and juxtaposition of Adam Fuss’s personal and professional work.  This piece below is Untitled from 1988.

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As jewelry designers, our passion was the idea of the “elegance of dirt” for example, making bird’s nests from twine and tin metal to wrap around the necks of elegant women to accessorize couture gowns, wild, subversive and elegant in a secret way.

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Like finding jewels in the dirt.  This bracelet was called “Devocean”, for the devas (Sanskrit for  “Shining Ones”, to describe the divine powers of Nature), so the meaning was Devas of the Ocean and as well referencing the concept of Devotion, rare, shining and stunning.

London also heard about our collection and pieces were used to style this British Vogue editorial shot by Sheila Metzner.

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Coorespondance, Terrepathy and Primal Search were the names we gave to the “jewels”, none of them made from precious or expensive materials.  It was more about how the shapes and designs brought out the elemental beauty in a woman.

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Studio Voice magazine from Japan also came out to the country and we styled a shoot about our studio and country lifestyle.

Pronto Magazine, also from Japan, came out into the Wild to feel the vibe.

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Do you like my hair extensions piled atop my head? ( I know it reads as an 80’s poof of hair but I must defend myself…they were actually long dread locks piled up with some dangling!)

We were covered in major magazines and worn by all types of women.  This next spread, “All About Eve” captured the essence of a woman who was surreal and earthy, a vision we shared with three of the most creative Visionaries in New York at that time…

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Stephan Gan and James Kaliardos and Josef Astor.  Stephan Gan discovered us. Currently the Creative Director at Harpers Bazaar, V and Visionaire,  Stephan was the fashion editor and photographer at Details magazine (it began as NYC cool mag for boys and girls prior to being a mens mag)  Stephan shot the image of the girl wearing our piece as roots and Josef Astor shot the tableau of the red Diane Pernet gown and our necklace.  James Kaliardos, co-founder of V and Visionaire was the make-up artist, who also went on to become the chosen makeup artist for some of the world’s most celebrated beauties such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie.

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I end with a drawing of mine,  “La Femme Furmental”.  A little Dreamgirls, a little Drag Queen, a little Nature, a little Brain-like and  a little Sexual.  Maybe Real Elegance is Truly Wild. Yes, I think I believe that.  What are the most elegant and wild moments you have had?

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One Response to “WILD WOMEN 1990”


  1. 1 Bon Vivants: Positions Available This Very Moment « Jade Dressler

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