“Before I came along, costume jewellery was never designed to be stylish – it was the sort of thing made for women to wear to church.” So said the late Kenneth Jay Lane, celebrated costume jeweller, wit and self-declared “fabulous fake”. Lane is one of four flamboyant New Yorkers to be celebrated in Interiors: New York Visions, a seismic auction at Christie’s that will take place in Manhattan on Wednesday June 6.
A major attraction at the gathering will be 30 signed pieces from Lane’s archives in rhinestones, enamel and gilt – their exotic glamour reveals why celebrities such as Diana Vreeland and Elizabeth Taylor clamoured for his work during the 1970s and 1980s. However, the bulk of the 350 lots are furniture, art and books from the designer’s Stanford White-designed Park Avenue home, a theatrical space crammed to the rafters with treasures from around the globe. It’s fascinating to note the parallels between his gems and his taste in furniture: the delicate tracery of a 19th-century Japanese lacquer cabinet (estimate $3,000-$5,000) is echoed in the fronds of a rhinestone-and-gilt leaf necklace ($1,000-$1,500) dating from 1975.
Artefacts from the colourful home of Lane’s close contemporaries, society couturier Arnold Scaasi and publisher Parker Ladd, form the second part of the sale. A panelled wood sculpture ($70,000-$90,000) by American artist Louise Nevelson that once hung on their ceiling is accompanied by other examples of 20th-century fine art and furniture, including a pair of extravagant 1930s silver table swans ($5,000-$7,000) by Portuguese artist David Ferrara and a kitsch portrait of the couple ($1,000-$1,500 by American painter Norris Church Mailer).
Last but by no means least, Parisian-born architect and interior designer Robert Couturier is ringing the changes in his SoHo apartment by selling an eclectic mix of pieces from his personal collection. Ceramics, glass, Asian artworks and carpets are all up for grabs, but the most interesting lots are undoubtedly those by the great French and American modernists. Jacques Adnet and Maurice Savin’s c1948 monumental oak dining table ($20,000-$30,000), the legs of which are formed from four white ceramic female figures, is one of the more covetable pieces, as is Paul Evans’ 1970s burled walnut Cityscape game table with acrylic chess pieces ($2,000-$3,000). Couturier’s fans may also wish to attend the Christie’s Lates event on Monday June 4, which the designer is co-hosting prior to the auction.