Summer Exhibition

Ultra Vanities – Bejewelled Make-Up Boxes from the Age of Glamour
Goldsmiths’ Hall from Friday May 31 to Saturday July 20, 2013 – Admission Free

The exhibition celebrates a unique, private collection of exquisite, finely wrought, jewelled and enamelled boxes that were all the rage in the 1920s through to the 1970s.

With early, minimal and elegant pieces from the 1920s shown alongside extravagantly adorned examples from the 1950s and later, Ultra Vanities provides a window on a glamorous world of luxury and elegance and reflects the social and design history of the times.

Aside from being stunning objets d’art the boxes were miracles of miniature engineering featuring tiny components all contained in a very small space.  A powder compact, lipstick, comb, cigarette holder, mirror and occasionally a little note pad and pencil were typical components – everything a lady might need for a night out!  Some also had special slip cases made in rich matching fabrics or a precious leather notably shagreen.   Such essential accessories or nécessaires were created by all the major jewellery houses with status and refinement in mind - designed to rest glittering on cocktail bars and grand dining tables, to be coveted and admired for their preciousness and ingenuity.

The exhibition will be staged in the principal first floor rooms of Goldsmiths’ Hall which will be transformed, for the occasion, into an elegant Parisian salon of the 1930s and dressed with historic touches and references back to an age of glamour.

The associated book “Ultra Vanities – Minaudières, Nécessaires and Compacts” written by Meredith Etherington-Smith will be on sale during the exhibition priced at £39.50