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A Duke's Designs Are Gleaming Again

November 27, 1987|MARY ROURKE | Times Staff Writer

Aftershocks are still shaking the fashion world since last spring's exhibit and auction of the late duchess of Windsor's estate jewelry. Now everybody wants the good stuff, or what can pass for it.

With that in mind Edward Landrigan came to Los Angeles recently to display a collection of jewelry the duchess herself could appreciate. All of it was designed by the late Fulco di Verdura, the Italian duke and jewelry maker whose heyday was in the 1940s, and it was on view in Beverly Hills at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Company Revived

Landrigan recently took over and revived the Verdura company on Fifth Avenue in New York, made contact with the same craftsmen who worked with the duke in the old days and now has them re-creating original pieces from detailed sketches the designer left.

"His name is well-known among jewelers, more so than the general public," Landrigan said. "Angela Cummings, who designs for Tiffany, told me Fulco was her great inspiration." The Verdura style, like that of Cummings, included use of very small precious or semiprecious stones.

But most Verdura designs were custom ordered, and many of his best customers were based in Hollywood. For Joan Crawford, he designed a heart-shape brooch pierced by an arrow.

There are costume pieces that fashion designer Coco Chanel commissioned Verdura to make for her in Paris, but Landrigan said he is only duplicating fine jewelry now.

Landrigan used to head the jewelry division at Sotheby Parke Bernet auction house in New York. Now that he owns a storefront, he said, he is struck by the way women shop for real jewelry. There's a science to it. First they stop by his Fifth Avenue address alone and choose everything they like in three price categories: around $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. Then they send in the buyer--usually a husband or a lover. "He picks out something to fit his pocketbook," Landrigan explained.

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