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  • Los Castillo: Mid-century Mexican modernism

    Los Castillo dish

    As painters, writers and musicians of the 1920s confronted a brave New Mexico in the wake of the nation’s revolution, silver artists engaged with a reinvention of their own.

    In the wake of a bloody revolution that had raged for a decade between 1910 and 1920, Mexico was ready to embrace renewal: artists and artisans across the newly democratised nation were inspired to re-examine their national identity and cultural traditions.

    Borrowing freely from Aztec through Art Deco designs more than a half century ago, American professor of architecture, William Spratling began reshaping Mexican silver jewellery into a modern style that is rich in leafage, mythological animals, astrological symbols, ranch images and Jazz Age motifs. In the process, he helped transform Taxco from a sleepy mining town in the Guerrero Mountains in Mexico into a world-renowned silver centre.

    Los Castillo dish with frogs

    The pre-Hispanic motifs Spratling began with were soon mixed with modern Cubist and contemporary folk elements in the highly sophisticated earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets and money clips he designed. He was also responsible for combining wood and silver and such semi-precious stones as obsidian, amethyst, onyx, turquoise and jet.

    Los Castillo dish with frogs

    Antonio Castillo and his three brothers, Jorge, Miguel and Justo all trained in Spratling's shop before they went out on their own to open Los Castillin 1939, one of the most prominent of the Mexican jewellery producers which is now in its second generation.

     

    The Castillo’s were responsible for introducing works that married two or more metals. They also did enamelling, feather work and Aztec mosaics. Their practice combined complex and simple selections in solid silver sometimes with semi-precious stones or glass.

    At 16 years of age in 1929, Antonio was the first of the Castillo brothers to join Spratling as an apprentice. The eventual success of their enterprise was based on their individual skills, both as silversmiths and as designers. Their work was inspired by old Aztec figures and decoration, which over the years have become increasingly diverse and popular.

    Lost Castillo wine bottle coaster

    The work of Los Castillo is an important representation of the mid-20th century Mexican modernist movement and is now keenly sought after.  Today, Los Castillo lives on in the hands of Antonio Castillo's daughter, Emilia and her two daughters.

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  • The Story of Jeanne Lanvin and her Paris design house

    The story of Lanvin begins in 1889, when Jeanne Lanvin had just turned twenty-two and finished her milliner’s apprenticeship.  She opened her first hat shop in the heart of Paris at 16 Rue Boissy d’Anglas. Even at that young age, her talent was truly dazzling.

    Four years later, Jeanne Lanvin’s crowning point came when she obtained a commercial lease on the prestigious Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and established her eponymous fashion house. 

    Lanvin perfume bottle | Contemporary Cluster

    Her first fragrance was American: My Sin, formulated by Maria Zède and launched in the United States in 1925, was an immediate success. But it wasn’t until 1927 that the legendary fragrance Arpège was born in France.

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