Chanel

Fulco di Verdura, born Fulco Santostefano della Cerda was the last Duke of Sicily. Fulco was born in Palermo, Italy and lived most of his childhood at his Grandmother's estate being pampered while surrounded by a very eccentric and lavish lifestyle. Upon his Grandmothers death, the family was torn apart resulting in Fulco losing most of his inheritance. He was then enlisted in the army at the age of 17 to fight in WW2 however was injured early on and sent back to Italy for the duration of the war. It was then at his Father’s passing he inherited the title "Duke of Verdura" and began living the indulgent lifestyle of the Italian nobility. Eventually he made his way to Paris by way of a brief stint in Venice. It was in Paris he made the acquaintance of Coco Chanel by an introduction from mutual friends Cole and Linda Porter. Fulco took a job designing textiles for Chanel, however quickly she realized that given his feisty personality he was destined for more and she appointed him the designer of both her private and boutique jewelry lines. During this time Verdura created some of the prolific pieces he is known for such as the Maltese cross cuffs which consisted of mixed precious and semi-precious stones set in gold and mounted on carved cuff bracelets. The partnership went on for eight years and Fulco eventually decided to go explore America. He travelled the entire country from Los Angeles to Palm Beach and ultimately settled in Manhattan. Through his long list of influential connections and friendships he was introduced to Paul Flato and began working for with him designing a line called "Verdura for Flato" consisting of many items inspired by nature. These pieces had the social elite and Hollywood starlets captivated in their quirky and creative designs. Some of his famous clients were the likes of Marlene Deitrich, The Astor and Vanderbilt women, Princess Grace and Barbara Hutton amongst many others. In September of 1939, Fulco Di Verdura opened up a salon on Fifth Avenue in New York City where he attracted even more clientele of the Cafe Society set. In the year 1941, Fulco collaborated with Salvador Dali for a very artistic jewelry line equally representative on the both of them. Throughout the 50's and 60's Fulco remained consistently popular amongst all of high society and in 1973; he sold his beloved company and retired at the age of 75. He moved to London for four years and passed away at the age of 79. In 1985 the Verdura Company was purchased by Ward Landrigan who was the former head of Sotheby's USA jewelry division and a long time collector and admirer of Fulco's work. Along with the company, he also acquired over 9000 of Fulco's original sketches which have been used ever since to create new designs all with the same elevated level of product consistent with the Verdura name. The beginning of a new era of the Verdura empire began with a move into a new salon as well, above Bergdorf Goodman on the 12th floor and with spectacular views of Central Park from their private showroom.

"The great thing about Verdura is that there simply is less of it, which should, officially, make it more valuable," she said. "Owning a piece of Verdura is a little like having an elite club membership: Once bitten, forever smitten." -Evert Louwman of Bonhams and Butterfields Auction House