Is this a Tony Duquette moment? It would seem so, with a book by Wendy Goodman about the Hollywood decorator and his fantastical tastes in the pipeline for next year. Meanwhile, a line of Tony Duquette furniture is being readied for late 2005, and Paris-based designer Andrew Gn has found inspiration in Duquette for his spring collection.
If minimalism is yesterday’s story could there be a better poster boy for the new neo-Baroque than Duquette? He created luxury with exotic excess, cross-cultural references and by unapologetically using cheap materials such as Coke caps to make a mirror, or gluing plastic serving trays onto the ceiling at his Hollywood Hills studio. “It was Baroque-psychedelic,” said Gn. “He mixed the real and fake. It was about being fabulous.”
Duquette, who died at 85 in 1999, worked for socialites and celebrities such as Doris Duke, J. Paul Getty and the Duchess of Windsor. He also dazzled them with extravagant jewelry that mixed precious and nonprecious stones. Some of that vintage jewelry will be used in Gn’s show, said Hutton Wilkinson, who was Duquette’s business partner and who now oversees his estate. “They’re all one-of-a-kind pieces, mostly brooches, bracelets and rings,” he said. “After the maximalism of minimalism, it’s time for Tony Duquette and one-of-a-kind pieces, which is really the definition of luxury.” Gn’s Duquette inspiration includes chinoiserie to jewelry integrated onto clothes. Helena Rubinstein, one of Duquette’s most famous fashion clients, also influenced Gn’s look for spring. “It’s so damn rich,” said the designer of Rubinstein and Duquette’s tastes for mixing the high and low to grandiose effect. To wit: Gn has embroidered coral motifs on dramatic dresses and then embroidered them with real coral, or embroidered scores of semiprecious stones on tops and gowns. Meanwhile, Gn said it’s all for a good cause. In November, he’ll travel to Los Angeles for a trunk show where profits will go to Step Up, a not-for-profit ovarian cancer research foundation. There will be a gala and a dinner in Tony Duquette’s former house.