It’s 9am on March 13, 2012. The day of the Seaman Schepps Spring/Summer 2012 catalogue shoot. Our model Yulia T has arrived and is getting ready for what will be an elaborate transformation into a ’40s siren. Makeup artist Bryan Z begins…
More footage of Miss Yulia’s transformation to come!
It’s a month before production begins on our next catalog, and I’m obsessively sifting through John Rawlings’ photography for Vogue through the 40s and 50s. In the age of provocative-bordering-on-obsene fashion photography à la Terry Richardson et al, Rawlings’ eye for composition and form–together with the refined 40s styling–is suddenly refreshing… and surprisingly sexy. Here’s a shot by John Rawlings for Vogue, circa 1941. The models are peering into the March 1941 of Vogue, which just so happens to feature Schepps jewelry on the cover!
There’s nothing I find more delight in than discovering a vintage photo with Seaman Schepps jewelry. I often find myself trolling through old magazine archives and society photos, hoping to catch a glimpse of an iconic Schepps jewel. Luck was on my side today… Here a stunning shot of a model wearing our large and medium Link Bracelets, as photographed by John Rawlings–influential Vogue photographer of the 40s.
The legendary jewels of Elizabeth Taylor are practically as famous as Liz herself! The recent auction of her jewelry at Christie’s garnered much attention, and sold for many times the estimated value. Of course, Seaman Schepps did not escape the woman who adored jewelry like no other. Here she is at the height of her fame wearing Schepps on the cover of Modern Screen magazine from 1952.
Style is the ever elusive thing that every woman wants and few have. The legendary Diana Vreeland once said,
“A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”
Schepps’s clientele have always been independent women of great style and accomplishment. They march to the beat of their own drum. When you are in the presence of such a woman, you feel her allure immediately. It’s more than beauty. It’s more than just wearing the latest fashions. It’s undefinable and intangible. It’s a bit of magic. Very much like Diana Vreeland.
For each finished image in the catalog, we sometimes have to take hundreds of shots before we get the right one. For this particular series, a total of 398 shots were taken! It’s nice to go back now and look through the ones that didn’t make the cut. There are so many good ones… the editing process is brutal!
Here’s a photo of Miss Duke from 1953, wearing her Schepps citrine cabochon bracelet and ring suite, made for her in December of 1940. At that time, the price was $500! The pairing with a crisp white shirt is absolute perfection.
The set was part of the Christie’s “Magnificient Jewels from the Doris Duke Collection” auction in 2004. (Click on images to enlarge.)
To see some of her other Schepps’ pieces, see our previous post.
A little piece of Schepps history–Patricia Schepps Vaill’s business card. So simple… because the Schepps name said it all.
Her obituary in the New York Times:
February 18, 1993 Patricia Schepps Vaill, a jewelry designer, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 74.
Until she became ill in 1990, Mrs. Vaill was acting as a design consultant. She was known for her work in the Art Deco style in jewelry and the use of beach glass and rock crystal.
Mrs. Vaill was the former president of Seaman Schepps, the Park Avenue jewelry design firm founded by her father… She took over after her father’s death in 1972, retiring in 1988.
In May 1986, Interview magazine published an article about her that was illustrated by Robert Mapplethorpe.
She was born in San Francisco. She attended L’Ecole Mont-Choisi in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Todhunter School in New York City, where she studied American History under Eleanor Roosevelt.
Besides her daughter, Amanda, a writer in New York City, she is survived by a sister, Virginia Jane Scott of Cold Spring Harbor, L.I., and two grandchildren.
I have to thank the BrandLand blog for this image. They had found the card in the back of an old desk that was once in the Abraham & Straus department store in Brooklyn. Of course, our store is still located at 485 Park Avenue. Our phone number is still indeed PL3-9520.
In 2010, I was fortunate to catch one of the most extensive exhibitions of Irving Penn’s photography at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Whilst peering at the 120 photographs on display at the gallery, the one above (of beauty icon and writer Francine du Plessix Gray–left— with her stepfather Alexander Liberman and mother Tatiana du Plessix Liberman) stopped me dead in my tracks. The photo was taken in 1948 in New York. Tatiana is wearing Schepps’ Pearl Wrapped Link Bracelet and Earrings!
My curiosity was piqued. Who were Alex Liberman and Tatiana du Plessix Liberman? After all, you had to be a bit of a somebody to sit for Irving Penn.