The Resale Evangelista
Do not miss this: Chanel Vintage Jewelry show, Aug. 9, 2014, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Marlene Vitanza, owner of Peregrine Galleries, is celebrating the gallery’s 30th anniversary with an exhibit and sale of vintage Chanel jewelry. The collection was originally owned by a long-time employee of the fashion house.
The tiny Peregrine Galleries, in Montecito, CA (home to Oprah, as well as other celebrities) is a destination for anyone interested in fine vintage jewelry, especially designer pieces by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Miriam Haskell. Marlene is also nationally known for her premier collections of silver jewelry by Georg Jensen, William Spratling, Hector Aguilar, Antonio, Margot, and Los Castillo, as well as paintings by masters of California plein air painting.
But for this big anniversary, she is pulling out a never-before-seen collection of Chanel pieces, the likes of which Mademoiselle Coco herself would be proud. In addition to hard-to-find and limited edition runway jewelry, the collection includes several couture Chanel jackets. The collector worked for Chanel in the 1970s, loved the jewelry and amassed many rare pieces.
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Looking for the iconic Chanel birdcage earrings with Chanel’s CC logo dangling inside, designed in the 1980s for a runway show? You can find them–or could, when I was there recently–at Peregrine Galleries. Mother-of-pearl earrings the size of a quarter, trimmed in gold-tone metal to look like turtles? They are there in the case, along with ropes of Chanel pearls and gold chains embellished with variations of the Chanel logo or Coco’s favorite lion’s head motif (she was a Leo). Or maybe the cuff with poured glass beads will make your hands tremble and your heart palpitate.
Marlene has been buying Chanel jewelry for about 20 years–and only regrets that she didn’t buy more early on. “I can’t tell you how many pieces I passed up that I would be thrilled to find now,” she says.
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Marlene divides her Chanel collectors into three groups: Those who want original Chanel, but nothing visibly sporting a Chanel logo; those who want original Chanel, but only pieces with subtle logos; and the group–many young and many celebrities–who want biggest and most visible logos possible.
Coco Chanel gained fame not only for her iconic knit jackets, with chain trim and demure pockets, but also for popularizing the suntan, wearing costume jewelry as a means of self expression, and articulating a philosophy of authenticity, rather than pretension.
Many of Mademoiselle Chanel’s thoughts (my thanks to Brainy Quotes) are as relevant today as the day she uttered them:
- “Fashion has to do with ideas the way we live, what is happening.”
- “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.”
- “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”
And a personal favorite of The Resale Evangelista:”Elegance does not consist of putting on a new dress.”
I’m going to write a lot more about Marlene in later posts. I’ve been visiting both her gallery in Montecito and the one her late husband had in Santa Barbara for many years. I was first attracted by the mid-Century plein air landscapes by California artists. But Marlene is known nationwide as an important dealer in Taxco Mexican silver jewelry and Native American jewelry and as an early and prolific collector of Bakelite. And she’s just fun to talk with, full of information and generous with her time. I’m so sorry I won’t be in Santa Barbara for the Aug. 9 opening celebration of Peregrine’s anniversary. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, either that evening–or for that matter, any time–stop in an browse.
About Peregrine Galleries
- 1133 Coast Village Road, Montecito, California 93108
- (805) 969-9673
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook fan page