The collaboration between Fulco di Verdura and Salvador Dali creates memorable historic jewels
Fulco di Verdura’s richly diverse jewels showcased his range of talent and confidence to collaborate with other visionaries of his time—from the iconic and colorful Maltese cross cuffs he created in his first design job with Chanel to the elegantly playful three dimensional pieces he crafted while working for Paul Flato.
Although he remained true to the tradition of his craft , he played with conventional notions, offering exuberant and often experimental takes on fine jewelry. He featured rebellious mixes in his pieces: sophistication with wit, precious with non-precious materials and unexpected combinations and colors of gemstones, which he mastered after opening his own jewelry house in 1939.
His long-time friends songwriter Cole Porter and his wife Linda were the couple who first introduced him to Coco Chanel; his clients included the a roster of socialites and he designed for Hollywood royalty on and off screen. A man of many interests and talents, he ran in the same circles as renowned painters, authors and fashion designers of his day, including surrealist painter Salvador Dali, with whom he collaborated on five historical jewels. These jewels were featured 75 years ago at The Museum of Modern Art as part of a Dali/Miro exhibition and then traveled on to eight more museums.
To commemorate the anniversary of the collaboration, Verdura has introduced the “Out of This World” collection inspired by the five original jewels from 1941.
Verdura and Dali shared a passion for mythology that provided the themes behind the pieces and explored love, loss and faith. The five pieces include the Medusa brooch, the St. Sebastian Objet d’Art, the Apollo and Daphne brooch, the spider cigarette case and the Fallen Angel pillbox. All incorporate paintings created by Dali.
Although Verdura and Dali were both part of Paris’ Café Society, they didn’t meet until Caresse Crosby, an arts patron and avant-garde publisher, introduced them in 1941 at her estate in Virginia where she had been editing Dali’s autobiography. “The visit,” Verdura commented, “turned out a tremendous success.”
Nico Landrigan, Verdura’s President said, “We have been discussing this collection for years but thought that the 75th anniversary of this collaboration was worthy of special recognition. Not only did it result in five historical pieces being created, but also Dali began his lifelong fascination with jewelry and Fulco created his first of many miniature paintings.”
After Fulco di Verdura created the jewels with Dali, he continued to design surrealistic inspired jewels—all of which influence the new collection, which include dogwood motifs inspired by the original dogwood design created in 1942 and and featured in a Dali surrealist landscape painting in Vogue in October 1943.
There are arrow ear clips in platinum, gold and diamond, which are inspired by the St. Sebastian Objet and a collection of snake cuffs, armbands, bracelets, rings and ear clips in gold with ruby eyes, which give a nod to the Medusa Brooch. The new collection brings together a modern take on art, history and the mythology of jewelry while paying homage to the groundbreaking jewels.
Painting by Salvador Dali of the “new accessories”, published in Vogue, October 1, 1943. Pictured in the bottom left foreground is Verdura’s pink tourmaline, yellow sapphire and gold “Dogwood” brooch.