Costume Jewelry. American Dreams

16 April 2016 – 2 October 2016

Palazzo Mazzetti Asti

From April 16 to October 2, 2016 Palazzo Mazzetti will be hosting the exhibition “Costume Jewelry. American Dreams” with over 500 Costume Jewels belonging to Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s personal collection. Necklaces, brooches, earrings, bracelets will guide visitors through the fascinating story of Costume Jewelry, evolving from reproductions of classic jewelry, to the finest pop creations of the 1950s and 1960s, designed by leading designers such as Trifari, Marcel Boucher, Coro, De Rosa, Eisenberg, Miriam Haskell, Eugene Joseff, Kenneth J. Lane, Pennino, up until Wendy Gell and Iradj Moini.

The historical building Palazzo Mazzetti of Asti, a baroque treasure chest filled with fine collections of carvings, ancient textiles and ceramics, offers the ideal setting for an exhibition dedicated to a particular decorative arts’ field such as “Costume Jewelry.” The exhibition is a journey into Costume Jewelry production, a socio-cultural phenomenon born in the US in the aftermath of the Great Depression between 1929 and 1939. With the drastic reduction of luxury goods trade, experimentation with non-precious materials became the only way of survival for jewelers, as well as a greater spur for their creativity and development of new techniques. These were the years of fabulous and inexpensive ornaments that Hollywood studios did not hesitate to use, turning Costume Jewels into protagonists of the golden age of American cinema. Huge and showy, these jewels were more visible during filming and allowed productions to save money previously spent for the rental of real jewels.

Despite the use of non-precious stones and low-cost alloys, these jewels’ top quality features and astounding size highlight the extraordinary creative skills of designers of the time and their greater freedom to experiment with new materials. Costume Jewels were worn on stage by movie stars like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh. The legendary Joseff of Hollywood created jewelry for hundreds of highly successful films, including Gone with the Wind.

Along with Hollywood Divas, also First Ladies as Mamie Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, showed them off on public occasions.

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has developed a strong interest in Costume Jewels “because they represent a cultural heritage that brings us back to difficult times full of great social changes. The meaning they carry and transmit is significant, likewise their accurate inherence to the exact historical moment in which they were made. What I seek and find in Costume Jewelry is imagination and creativity through the use of innovative materials, such as vulcanized rubber, rhinestones, celluloid, bakelite, plexiglas and acrylic, all materials able to anticipate many future trends. These Jewels are “poor but beautiful”, accessible and thus affordable for all”.

Beautifully Fake, Trifari: from Naples to New York, Hollywood: Jewelry Takes the Scene, From Creativity to Design and Say it with Flowers are just some of the sections included in the exhibition, further enriched by illustrative panels, photographs and projections. The catalog is published by Sagep, Genoa.


Costume Jewelry. American Dreams

Palazzo Mazzetti

Corso V. Alfieri 357, Asti