BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Surrealistic sparks flew when Salvador Dalí and Duke Fulco di Verdura collaborated on jewelry design in 1941.
Seventy-five years later, enthusiasm for this meeting of the creative minds still exists, as evidenced by the recent gathering of members of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation for a preview Verdura’s new “Out of this World” collection inspired by that collaboration from so many decades ago.
The invitation-only preview hosted by Cindy Chereskin and Kim Moore was a jewelry lover’s paradise. Who could resist trying on gold and ruby snake cuffs and hoops, tendril flame earrings, and platinum and diamond arrows, all based on the designs by the House favored by Greta Garbo, Babe Paley, the Cushing Sisters, Elizabeth Taylor, several Chicago Armors, and Mrs. Edward Byron Smith?
Verdura CEO Ward Landrigan told how Dalí met Verdura:
“With the financial backing of Cole Porter and Vincent Astor, Verdura opened his doors on Fifth Avenue in 1939. Carisse Crosby, the expatriate art patron and head of Black Sun Press, introduced Verdura to Dalí, and they produced five pieces together. Verdura’s dogwood design even appears in a 1943 landscape. It, however, wasn’t always smooth sailing. Verdura complained to Dalí that he was taking liberties with his designs.”
Standard Oil heiress Millicent Rogers—rumored to have been involved with Roald Dahl, Clark Gable, Ian Fleming, The Prince of Wales, and others—owned three of the five pieces. In her later years, the Taos beauty became a great supporter of Native American art and jewelry, but the pieces she bought from the Verdura-Dalí collection were all based on mythology. They included a pink tourmaline and ruby pin entitled “Apollo and Daphne,” a Medusa brooch swarming with snakes, and a figure of St. Sebastian pierced with arrows.
The University of Chicago’s Cancer Research Foundation board has a close relationship with Verdura, as board member Diane Thomas explains:
“For many years, Verdura has been a lead sponsor of our annual gala. Verdura generously donated their Criss Cross Cuff, inspired by Cole Porter in the 1940s, to our live auction, as well as gold and topaz Byzantine earrings—originally created in the early 1930s for Coco Chanel, when she asked for jewelry in previously unused bright colors—for the raffle prize. They have also donated proceeds from all sales at their salon events, such as the ones held recently at the homes of Cindy and Kim.”
Kristi Nuelle, President of the Research Fund Board, which raises funds to underwrite clinical research programs on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer at the University of Chicago Cancer Center, ranked as one of the top 15 cancer programs in the nation.
Ward Landrigan is always delighted to return to Chicago for the salon sales benefitting this important cause.
“This board is very passionate about their work and we are equally proud of our relationship with them. It is also great fun to see my friends in Chicago who are always traveling to visit us in New York. I love the old-fashioned feel of Chicago at the holidays and do most of my Christmas shopping on Oak Street.”
We hope there will be a few of you unwrapping something beautiful from Verdura this holiday season!