Gilded Lives: New York Fashion and Design, 1880–1914

Jeannine Falino, Museum of Arts and Design

Tuesday, August 20, 2013Mini-exhibit: 7:15pmLecture: 8:00pm
de Young Museum
Fancy dress costume, “Infanta Margarita” after Velasquez, worn by Kate Brice to the Bradley-Martin Ball

Fancy dress costume, “Infanta Margarita” after Velasquez, worn by Kate Brice to the Bradley-Martin Ball, February 10, 1897, by John-Philippe Worth (1856-1926). White satin overlaid with alternating rows of white organza ribbon and galon d’argent bands; white organza; cream machine-made lace; silver metallic “lei” with spangles; pink taffeta ribbon; brilliants; black velvet ruched ribbon; rhinestone border backed by pink taffeta cockade. Museum of the City of New York, anonymous gift, 1942

Goelet Prize for Sloops, 1889, by Tiffany & Company (1837-present)

Goelet Prize for Sloops, 1889, by Tiffany & Company (1837-present). Silver. Museum of the City of New York, gift of Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, 1939

Paddle fan, Moluccan cockatoo, taxidermied hummingbird, beetles

Paddle fan. Moluccan cockatoo, taxidermied hummingbird, beetles. Museum of the City of New York, gift of Mrs. Alfred Maclay, 1945

When families such as the Belmonts, Carnegies and Vanderbilts amassed vast, new industrial wealth in the decades following the Civil War, they conspicuously consumed jewelry, fashion, interior décor, furnishings and decorative arts. Jeannine Falino will offer us stellar examples of New York’s fashion and design culture from between 1880 and 1914.

Ms Falino will provide an early preview of lavish objects that will soon be on view in “Gilded New York,” an exhibition she is co-curating for the Museum of the City of New York that will open on November 13, 2013. Her show and the accompanying catalogue will include exceptional examples of presentation silver by Tiffany & Company; ball gowns by Charles Frederick Worth, the premier French couturier of the era; as well as jewelry by Tiffany, Cartier and Marcus. These dazzling works will illuminate an era when members of the new American aristocracy often displayed their wealth in storied costume balls that were held on Fifth Avenue, and when membership in elite society was governed by Mrs. Astor and her master of ceremonies, Ward McAllister. It was a time when New York became the nation’s commercial heart as well as its cultural capital, where a popular Ladies’ Mile of luxury fashions and the establishment of cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art helped launch the city to global prominence.

Jeannine Falino is an independent curator. She was formerly the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she worked for more than 15 years. She has published and lectured widely on American decorative arts and craft from the colonial era to the present day. Her last presentation to the Forum was in April, 2012 when she spoke on “Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design,” the fourth in a series of landmark exhibitions that has been mounted by the Museum of Arts and Design on decorative arts of the 20th century.

Jeannine Falino’s familiarity with Tiffany (an important retailer in her upcoming “Gilded New York”) derives, in part, from her long association with the subject. She co-edited American Luxury: Jewels from the House of Tiffany (2008), and was also a co-curator for “Artistic Luxury: Faberge – Tiffany – Lalique” that was held at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2008. Jewelry has become a focus of her recent publications, including Edge of the Sublime: Enamels by Jamie Bennett (2008), which she curated for the Fuller Craft Museum, and an article for Knitted, Knotted, Twisted, Tied: The Jewelry of Mary Lee Hu (2012). One of her essays for “Gilded New York” is entitled “ ‘Blazed with Diamonds,’ New Yorkers and the Pursuit of Jeweled Ornament.”

Ms Falino has made scholarly contributions to numerous exhibition catalogues, including Craft in America: Celebrating Two Centuries of Artists and Objects (2007), Art Deco 1910–1939 (2003), Women Designers in the USA, 1900–2000 (2000) and Inspiring Reform: Boston’s Arts and Crafts Movement (1997). She was general editor for Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design (2011) and co-editor of Silver of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2008) as well as Colonial Silver and Silversmithing in New England, 1620-1815 (2001).

7:15pm mini-exhibit

Revel in Renaissance Revival and robber baron opulence. Share your couture, jewelry and silver that reflect Victorian finery.


Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Enter from Level B1 of the parking garage; pedestrians enter from the concourse side of Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and down the steps across the street from the museum’s main entrance.