Adorning Fashion: The History of Costume Jewellery to Modern Times

Image of Adorning Fashion: The History of Costume Jewellery to Modern Times
Release Date: 
November 11, 2019
ACC Editions
Reviewed by: 

Don’t judge a book by its cover. This one has Jean Shrimpton in all her ’60s glory, elegantly turned out wearing a strapless dress accessorized with an over the top statement necklace, her hair piled high and exuding that hauteur that she was so capable of. Consequently, that image led this reader to believe that aside from being a sort of photo album of editorials and individual pieces there would be a very highly curated textual history. Wrong!

Deanna Farneti Cera proffers a history of costume jewelry to the point of really too much information. This is no easy breezy read with beautiful images, other than of individual pieces with a heavy focus on the Italianate, and far too many pieces of unknown provenance and of forgettable impact.

Adorning Fashion is broken down into a fact-heavy monograph starting with the historical aspects of costume jewelry’s beginnings over four centuries ago. The first half of the book will be mind-numbing to some and more like a textbook rather than a book within the fashion genre.

The second half of the book is broken down by decades. What was extremely interesting was that many of the giants of the costume or fashion jewelry business from the United States have not been included or were given very little copy. There were so many notable fashion jewelry designers who were true innovators within the classification, and yet they are absent from this historical telling. With so many items whose provenance was unidentified, this reader would have remained more attentive to the subject matter if there were more identifiable selections. There is a heavy concentration of Gripoix and Chanel, some of which is actually quite boring when you think of what that this pair has produced in decades of collaboration; this seems like a somewhat weak presentation of their accomplishments.

Regardless, the book is interesting. The images are beautifully reproduced, albeit not as magnetically as one might have expected.