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Expert in vintage costume jewelry from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s & 1950s

Jewelry On the Runway: A Modern Take on Vintage

Even though the record-breaking heat and humidity altered my planned attire for the evening, the weather didn’t dampen my excitement. On September 5, I attended my first fashion show. But that’s not the exciting part. From my front row seat, I was thrilled to see my jewelry on the runway, debuting at the Christopher Paunil show at Toronto Fashion Week. Vintage necklaces, earrings, and bracelets from the TruFaux Jewels collection were selected by the designer and showcased with his exquisite bridal and evening wear. Let me tell you about the experience and my favorite bridal gowns.

Behind the Scenes

When you see a fashion show on TV, you don’t get a sense of the flurry of activity that precedes each event. The evening of Christopher’s show, his was one of eight scheduled from 4:00pm to 10:00pm that day – one each hour. The models had their hair and makeup done in a centralized area away from the show space. Each designer had to wait until the previous group vacated the backstage before gaining access to unload and get the models ready for their runway walk.

Front of House

Out front, volunteers scrambled to usher out the attendees, clean up, and get the space ready for the next crowd. When I and the other audience members and press were allowed to enter the long and narrow runway space, we saw three rows of 50 seats on each side. Each chair had the name of the person assigned to sit in it as well as sponsor gifts and promotional material. The wall at the front of the room was lit with Christopher’s name. Guests and press were hurrying to find their seats.

Then suddenly the house lights went out, and an image from the Palace of Versailles took over the lit wall. The music started, and the image began to move. What had looked like a flat wall was actually three separate panels – the one on the left was the models’ doorway to the runway; on the right, their exit. Everyone snapped to attention, and all eyes were on that moving image – it seemed to beckon us. The first model stepped out in a bridal gown. As she moved down the runway, she appeared to be walking down that Versailles hallway. It was magical!
Bridal Wear

We saw 13 bridal gowns, which included one jumpsuit. The silhouettes, sleeve styles, necklines, and fabrics reflected the designer’s “return to elegance with current sensibilities” (from his press release). This post will discuss two of my favorites.

The gown on the left, according to the printed card with a sketch and description of each design, is “a strapless ball gown in floral organza jacquard with swag sleeves”. As you can see, it has side seam pockets. The bridal jumpsuit on the right is described as having long sleeves “with floral-embroidered shimmer lace bodice, high neck, and Spanish stretch mikado cigarette pants”. (Mikado is a blend of silks that result in a slightly shiny fabric that lends structure to a garment.) The removable overskirt is done in “flowing layers of satin organza”.

Bridal Jewels

Although I remembered which jewels Christopher had selected, I didn’t know which pieces would actually make the show and how he would pair them with the gowns and the models. As each one stepped out, I remember quietly gasping as I recognized the particular jewelry she was wearing.

I wasn’t surprised when he mixed decades on a model, as he did to accessorize the gown with swag sleeves (photo on the left). He chose 1950s diamanté chandelier ear clips by Pennino Brothers as well as an Art Deco aquamarine line bracelet from the 1920s (both sold). I, myself, often mix Art Deco pieces with jewelry from the 1940s and 1950s in my own attire and in my styling tips. Jewelry from this era is so classic that it harmonizes well with many other styles.

But I confess that I was surprised – and inspired – by his choice for the model in the jumpsuit (photo on the right). Here she is wearing late-1940s ear clips designed by Frank Hess for Miriam Haskell. They feature three vertical rows of opaque, white-glass beads and diamanté set in gold-tone metal. This pair has a Machine-Age-look as well as lots of sparkle and movement. I think they are a perfect, yet unexpected accessory for this extraordinary look.

Post-show Thoughts

In one of his Instagram posts, Christopher kindly wrote: “Thank you for your beautiful jewels – they brought everything to life on the runway!”. I want to thank him for choosing TruFaux Jewels to add a twist of vintage to his exquisite modern creations.


Barbara Schwartz

Thanks so much for your compliments, Linda! Those Haskell earrings are a knockout! I never would have thought about them for a bride, but Christopher really inspired me!

Glenavie Norton

I’m so thrilled for you! What an honor! Congratulations!
And what a beautiful collection of jewelry.

Barbara Schwartz

Thanks so much, Glenavie!

Cornelia Powell

Barbara….what a perfect “marriage”….the elegance of your vintage jewelry with lovely rite-of-passage gowns! Congratulations on the collaboration…..hope there’ll be many more.

Barbara Schwartz

Thanks so much, Cornelia! I love your analogy! You would have swooned over the gowns!

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