- Certificate from Verdura, dated June 15, 2016, stating that “In our opinion, this pair of gold and silver ‘wing’ dress clips was made from a design by Duke Fulco di Verdura for the House of Chanel in the spring of 1934.”
- “Vogue’s-eye view of the mode,” Vogue, May 1, 1934.
Born in France in 1883, Coco Chanel is regarded as the greatest twentieth-century fashion designer and is responsible for popularizing the modern casual and comfortable style of clothing. Her influence extended beyond clothing to handbags, fragrance, and jewelry. In 1927, she hired Fulco, Duke of Verdura, as a textile designer and recognizing his talent, quickly elevated him to head jewelry designer. Verdura worked for Chanel until 1934, when he moved to the United States and began designing for Paul Flato. In 1939 he opened his own firm that is still in operation today.
Coco Chanel, Daisy Fellowes, and Fulco di Verdura were three of the most important fashionable elite of the twentieth century, and this unusual and important jewel unites them. Verdura designed this pair of “Mercury-wing” clips for his last collection for Chanel in 1934. They appeared in Vogue in May of that year as a highlight of the spring collections, and were purchased and worn by the heiress Daisy Fellowes.
Mythology has long been a source for jewelry designers, and wing motifs referring to Mercury, the winged messenger of the Roman gods, or to cupids or other romantic figures periodically appeared in the form of brooches and tiaras from designers including Lalique, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chaumet, and Suzanne Belperron. By the 1930s, tiaras had fallen out of style, and Chanel’s comfortable style of dress based on chic suits and knitwear was popular. This new style of dress required unusual accessories, and Verdura took the form of the wings that appeared on bejeweled tiaras from Cartier and Lalique and adapted them to the brooch form. Keeping them oversized and paired at the neck, the clips maintain the impact of an important piece, but stripped down without stones they are simple enough to wear for day or evening.
Coco Chanel, according to Patrick Mauriès in Jewelry by Chanel, considered “her jewelry first and foremost as genuine art objects, as creations of their own logic and as intimations of absolute beauty and not as financial tours de force.”A Cecil Beaton photograph of Daisy Fellowes, from around 1934, demonstrates the beauty and wearabilty of these clips. Paris editor of Harper’s Bazaar and heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, Fellowes was one of the most stylish and glamorous women of the twentieth century and she is still known for the strength of her jewelry collection. She patronized the leading jewelers of her time such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boivin, and Belperron, as well as the most creative fashion designers in the world. This rare and iconic pair of “Mercury-Wing” clips was designed by and owned by legendary style icons and would be a beautiful and important addition to any collection.