A quick swing by San Francisco brought me to the wonderful Velvet da Vinci gallery where I was made to feel welcome by the owners Mike Holmes and Elizabeth Shypertt. I know I’ve said this before, but it makes such a huge difference to one’s  impression of a gallery when you’re warmly received. Velvet da Vinci is by far my favourite US contemporary jewellery gallery and I hope to show there some day (gush). They were setting up a great show; an international showcase of contemporary jewellery incorporating wood. You can see all the images from the show here. I discovered the work of Japanese artist and Hiko Mizuno alumnus, Kenta Katakura who was actually at the gallery when I was there, having just gotten off the plane. Go look at his site, the pieces in the show were the ones tiled Naked and are all articulated so they spin and move like many small helicopter blades or winged seed pods that spiral down from trees. They looked as if they were on the verge of taking off to flit in random trajectories around the gallery. Also new to me was local San Franciscan Agelio Batle who is primarily a sculptor but also makes jewellery.  I loved his Block, Branch and Faceted necklaces with golden geometrical wooden blocks hung from twigs that would gracefully encircle the wearer’s neck, sublime.

We also got some great tips from Mike for Haight St thrift stores, excellent Cuban food and Xanadu Gallery.

J’ai adoré the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. I almost didn’t go in, what was I thinking? The creations on display were indisputably works of art and belong in a museum. The pieces included beads, feathers, leathers, sequins, jewels, lace, fur, neoprene and techno fabrics galore as well as Madonna’s original cone bra stage corsets from the Blonde Ambition tour (worn during the infamous censored red bed scene!). There was also costuming from Pedro Almodovar film Kika. It was great to be able to get really close and see all the intricate detailing, having only seen Gaultier’s haute couture work in magazines and films, I didn’t know that they were so immaculately constructed. Some of the mannequins had video faces projected onto their heads that would speak quotes by Gaultier at random moments, which was both innovative and unnerving. Compared with the Westwood show that was at the NGA a few years ago, this was much more engaging. I actually enjoyed this show possibly more than some of the other art museums I’ve seen, just because it was something different.
One of the other cool things about the show was that the labels for each piece stated how many hours it took to make. (Should contemporary jewellers do that? Would that seem bratty?)

Regrettably, I didn’t get a chance to look at the rest of the museum, which seemed like it had some cool stuff.

Le bal des sirènes
gown, hinged corset with shells, pearls, mother of pearl, chiffon and silk crinkle crepe skirt with lame lace overlay and latex scales, Mermaids haute couture collection, 2008

Saut de l’Ange
gown, satin ribbon and lacing corset gown, Black Swan haute couture collection, 2011

dress, embroidered duchess satin dress with silk velvet underskirt, Cages haute couture collection, 2008

bodysuit, lamé, Movie Starshaute couture collection, 2009 (worn by Kylie on tour!)

Leopard skin beaded gown with rhinestone claws, Russia haute couture collection, 1997, 1006 hours to create.

We also swung by the fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright designed Xanadu Gallery. In addition to having an awesome name, the gallery was originally designed by Wright as a gift shop in 1948 and retains the furniture and built-in fittings designed by the architect. Behind an arched brick facade, the main gallery consists of a large circular room with a spiral ramp up to the first floor/mezzanine, it has a moulded Perspex ceiling composed of large and small white domes, a giant discus shaped hanging planter, as well as a gold dome over one of the counters on the ground floor. Xanadu Gallery has antique Asian jewellery, furniture and objets d’art and the dealer was more than happy for us to wander around & take pictures, she answered all our questions and showed us many of the jewellery pieces from the cabinets.


Reminds me of the opening lines of one of my favourite poems (and coincidentally one of the few that I remember) by Coleridge.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.


Velvet, Ribbons and the Pleasure Dome | 2012 | B L O G