Carmel Magazine

Holiday 2017

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Page 98 of 219

The compacts of the 1920s merged practicality with trends, as the rage for automobiles called for its own kind of cosmetic containers with com- pacts being "incorporated in the visor, steering wheel, and on the gear-shift handle for easy access." As the Jazz Age came to a close and the Great Depression loomed, the compact had become an integral part of American pop culture. By the early 1930s, to escape their economic woes, Americans flocked to the movies. The influence of the Art Deco movement produced abstract, sleek metal cases where advertisers found it easier to follow the images of the glamorous movie stars to show customers how they should look. It was an era where glamour reigned and women used their com- pacts as a testament to their sophistication and as a personal calling card. For the majority of the compact's run as a "must-have" fashion acces- sory, metal was used because it was readily available, cheap to produce and could be brushed, enameled, engraved and painted. The compact had assumed the shape of praying hands, a mask, a suitcase with travel decals, pianos, cameras and animals. In 1935, Salvador Dali designed a powder compact in the shape of a telephone dial for Elsa Schiaparelli. Customers had the option of person- alizing the object by having it engraved with their name and phone num- ber on a brass plate, which was centered on the dial. Several versions were available: black lacquer or tortoise shell, among others. This tele- phone dial compact is now avidly sought after by collectors, and is valued between $150-450, depending upon condition. Today, vintage compacts are plentiful. However, those produced by fine jewelers such as Tiffany & Co., Boucheron, Bulgari and Cartier boast lux- ury price tags at online shopping sites such as 1st Dibs. These exquisite cases of gold and sterling silver, often embellished with jewels, were influ- enced by the fashion houses of Schiaparelli, Pucci, Jean Cocteau and the whimsy of Salvador Dali, with their high-fashion creds. Their prices range from $2,500-$82,000. The lifecycle of a once essential part of a woman's makeup portfolio, the decorative compact first arrived on the fashion scene in the early 1900s, reached its peak in the '20s and '30s and quietly passed out of exis- tence by the mid-1950s. And while I drool online at these rare works of art in all their digital elegance and glory, which were intended to flaunt the wealth and privilege of their owners, I am happy to be sufficiently smitten over my collection of gold-plated versions of those designed for the bourgeois and the hope- less collector such as I. Marjorie Snow is a published writer and photographer with a vast knowl- edge of antiques and their history. Snow was the owner of Terra Cotta in Las Vegas, an exclusive architectural vintage gallery, which has been featured in numerous West Coast magazines. C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 7 97

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