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Cross-Dressing!!

   
 

Coco Chanel, Verdura, 
and the Maltese Cross

   

 

  

 

Such an inspired marriage—the cuff and the Maltese Cross!  The cuff, bold and large, is by its very nature a statement piece of jewelry; the Maltese Cross takes the basic idea of the cross and exaggerates it, multiplies it, with doubled ends like wicked forked tongues.  The result is a Byzantine one-two punch! 

Fulco di Verdura originally set the Maltese Cross into a cuff for Coco Chanel when he was in charge of her costume jewelry collection.  Born in Sicily, and a cousin of Giuseppe di Lampedusa whose book, The Leopard, is based on their aristocratic family, Verdura was influenced by the medieval iconography of his native Palermo.

The Maltese Cross, also called an Amalfi cross, is the ancient symbol of the Knights Hospitaller and can still be seen on the new Maltese Euro coins.   It is an eight-pointed cross; the four arms are of equal length, widening slowly to end in doubled points.  Coco Chanel legitimized paste jewelry—with faux pearls and poured glass she emphasized design and drama over precious metals and gems.   And the Maltese Cross became a symbol of the beautiful barbarism that defined the look of Chanel jewelry, appearing not only on cuffs but on brooches and necklaces and interpreted in different materials and endless variations. Verdura eventually began his own design house and one can to this day buy jewelry there based on his original sketches.  

Kenneth Jay Lane has continued the Chanel tradition of faux jewelry and offers his own affordable variations on the Maltese Cross.  Or one can splurge and buy the modern updated take of the original cuff at Chanel boutiques.  Hit me, baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

Read: The Leopard, Guiseppe di Lampedusa

Buy: Chanel cuff bracelet

 

Tags:  fashion  jewelry  chanel   

 

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