Saturday, July 16, 2011

Diana Vreeland and the Fire Breathing Fish.

One of my favorite images of Vreeland,
during her years at the MET.
 I am getting ahead of myself.  I wanted to make a brilliant tribute to the one and only Diana Vreeland, notorious editor of Harper's and Vogue, shaper of destinies, story teller, doyen, among other things, but I found a marvelous little memento of hers that I had to share post haste. 

Imagine you are dripping with style in 1960's New York; just walking up 5th or Madison Avenue as you do.  Maybe you had been to lunch with friends, or are on your way back from the Kenneth Salon, freshly shellacked.  With a gloved hand you reach into your bag for your 2:15 pm cigarette and stop to stare disappointed at the sad state of your lighter.  It's worn, tarnished, dented; just not up to par.  A woman like you must posses beauty in all forms for all uses.  Contemplative, you feel that there is no room for inconsequential design, it all must serve a purpose and be aesthetically pleasing.  Lit cigarette secured between two graceful fingers, you continue your stroll, passing before Tiffany & Co., and there you see it.  Behind the glass, a sparkling cigarette lighter designed by Jean Schlumberger rendered as a golden fish with incised scales and an articulating tail.  You must have it.

The fish, presented in a Tiffany & Co. hinged box.

You and Mrs. Vreeland are women of the same mind.  Vreeland and hundred of others snatched up Schlumberger's lighter, and other trinkets that he designed exclusively for Tiffany & Co. during it's Renaissance under the ownership of  Walter Hoving (former president of Lord & Taylor and later owner of Bonwitt Teller) and the Creative Direction of Van Day Truex (former director of the Parson's School of Design). 

Schlumberger's appreciation and interpretation of natural motifs made his designs instant classics at Tiffany, and they remain highly sought after today.  Google the Jackie bracelet by Schlumberger and you'll see what I mean.  Incidentally, Schlumberger was the first designer to ever be allowed to sign his name on a Tiffany products; later additions to the lucky few include Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Frank Ghery.

Flip the head back and strike the flint.  It fits beautifully
in the palm of your hand.  The perfect size to carry in your
evening bag as well.

The golden sardine Mrs. Vreeland carried in her bag was just another talisman of her personality.  Wit, humor, style, and taste were hallmarks of the impeccable woman, and certainly elements that we can all use a little more of in our lives.  I'm not saying you should take up smoking to have the opportunity to be glamorous, but adding a little extra flair to the everyday never hurt anybody. 

- Ian

Vreeland's fish lighter has an articulated tail, and is made of Gold
with Ruby and Sapphire eyes.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful find! So much elegance...Actually a new book about Diana Vreeland is coming out in October.