Loot: MAD About Jewelry Honors Loreen Arbus, Carolee Lee, & Karen and Michael Rotenberg 

Sports lovers have March Madness and jewelry enthusiasts and collectors have LOOT: MAD About Jewelry, The Museum of Arts and Design’s annual and wildly popular exhibition and sale. Now in its 18th edition, it runs through April 21st.

The LOOT 2018 Opening Benefit took place on Monday, 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. The evening’s events included first access for patrons to meet the 2018 LOOT artists and acquire their designs, a cocktail hour and reception, as well as a dinner honoring the 2018 LOOT Award recipients.

Marsy Mittlemann, Trustee and Loot Chair
Photos: Marilyn Kirschner unless otherwise noted

The LOOT 2018 Chair for the second year in a row was Marsy Mittlemann. Fashion designer Dennis Basso joined the Opening Benefit Host Committee, which also included Iris Apfel, Davina Benshetrit, Andi Potamkin Blackmore, Noreen Buckfire, Marian C. Burke, Kathy Chazen, Caroline Blackman Coakley, Michele Cohen, Paolo Costagli, Jessica Kagan Cushman, Gino Di Geso, Patti Dweck, Joan Hornig, Ann Kaplan, Judith Leiber, Shari Siadat Loeffler, Ella McHugh, Robert Lee Morris, Rebecca Moses, Linda Plattus, Polina Proshkina, Angela Sun, Barbara Tober, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Kay Unger, and Barbara Waldman.

Loot Curator, Bryna Pomp

The Curator for the past 8 years has been Bryna Pomp who has spent her whole career in the field of jewelry and travels the globe in search of the most amazing artists who create the best in design and craftsmanship. No wonder this event has become known as THE ultimate 5 day pop up shop for contemporary artist-made jewelry representing 35 emerging and acclaimed international jewelry artists from 15 countries. It is truly like a jewelry “League of Nations” right here on Columbus Circle.

Michael and Karen Rotenberg

Each year, the LOOT Award is presented to luminaries in the field of jewelry, including artists, collectors, and designers. This annual prize is in keeping with the long-standing commitment of the Museum of Arts and Design to presenting jewelry as an art form. This year’s honorees were writer, producer, and philanthropist Loreen Arbus, whose career achievements include becoming the first woman to head programming for a major television network; Carolee Lee, former CEO and founder of Carolee Designs and AccessCircles (she literally turned a small Greenwich business into an international brand); and renown collectors (and avid world travelers) Karen and Michael Rotenberg. They were all feted at a spirited Benefit Dinner held at Robert, the museum’s wonderful top floor restaurant.

Isabelle Molenat and her son

It was during the dinner that the winner of the third LOOT Acquisition Prize was named. This honor is in recognition of a LOOT jewelry artist “whose work reflects a maturity in artistry and concept, exhibits superior and experimental understanding of materials and form, and demonstrates expertise in technique and execution”. Like last year, there were two winners: French jewelry designer Isabelle Molénat and Thai jewelry designer Sarran Youkongdee. Ms. Molenat considers her jewels to be messengers, carrying stories about our heritage and linking us to other times. Her nature themed “Knots” collection represents the tying and resolution of these links, to understand their meaning and impact. She works entirely in silk and eco-prints her fabric using dye from carefully selected plants, which produce tannins that change through the seasons. She uses the dyed silk to make sheathed ribbons, which she then weaves to create wearable textile sculptures.

Sarran Youkongdee with his award winning designs

Thai jeweler Sarran Youkongdee began his jewelry practice in 2008. He is inspired by the rich culture and heritage of his birth country to create art to wear, characterized by flowers and an artistry that pays tribute to women past and present. His pieces are amalgamations of elaborate designs and royal handicrafts from the past, re imagined for now, owing to his use of contemporary materials.

Karen Rotenberg

As always, many of the patrons and invited guests used the theme of the Opening Night Benefit as a good excuse to break out their own statement making accessories. Among those who stood out in the crowd were Honoree Karen Rotenberg, wearing a truly unique swan neck piece by Emily Cobb, who makes use of digital technology and traditional fabrication techniques for her work. Her husband Michael accented his dapper suit with a wonderful pin by an Israeli artist.

Rebecca Moses

It was impossible not to notice the turban clad fashion designer and author Rebecca Moses, who I first met in the 80’s when I was a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar. She has certainly had quite the interesting life thus far beginning with her first collection at the age of 21. She closed her New York-based design company in 1992, replaced Gianni Versace as designer for the Genny Collection and Genny Platinum in 1993, continued as a consultant for Genny and Genny Platinum for some years, designed for the Gerani line, 2000, and in 2010, penned a book on style. She continues her creative endeavors.

Eteri Chkadua wearing her own jewelry 

Artist Eteri Chkaduai certainly stood out with a colorful and unique mod Sputnik- like rubber necklace of her own design.

Jean Shafiroff
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Jean Shafiroff’s Van Cleef & Arpels necklace, was a perfect complement to her colorfully printed, Alice + Olivia gown “Arabella” gown.

The event was a perfect excuse for me to wear my vintage pearl waterfall necklace paired with my decades old and still fabulous Carolee pearl cuffs, and they assuredly grabbed Honoree Carolee’s attention. In fact, the jewelry designer, known for her use of semi- precious stones, unique glass beads, crystals, and pearls, was herself wearing a chic and understated gray pearl necklace and matching cuffs, and when she spotted me, joked, “You’re the only person wearing more pearls than I am!” (See opening shot).

But naturally, the “raison d’etre” of the evening and the main event are the artists and their jewelry. They are all gifted and exceptional in their own way but these are some of the ones I was especially taken with:

Tania Clarke Hall and her jewelry

Based in London, Tania Clarke Hall is an award-winning jeweler working in leather. Inspired by the built environment, Japanese design, and her early studies in chemistry, Clarke Hall considers leather to be her “perfect creative playmate,” and her jewelry which is clean, minimal, and a bit edgy celebrates the overwhelming potential of this natural material.

Tina Karageorgi’s porcelain bird necklace

Greek designer Tina Karageorgi focuses on porcelain. Precious and semiprecious stones, and patinated and gilded silver complete the palette of materials. Her iconography looks at flora and fauna captured in vivid motion and vibrant color. Beyond her experience of the natural world, Karageorgi draws inspiration from a personal reading of Old Master paintings and Far Eastern artistic traditions.

Catherine Le Gal and her jewelry

Paris-based jeweler Catherine Le Gal’s pieces are minimal, modern and sculptural (they reminded me of Calder). She works in brass and gold leaf but regardless of what material she uses, the surface is always oxidized, scratched, and sanded, as to appear timeworn. In addition, they are versatile since many are reversible or contain interchangeable elements so the wearer can create her own designs. Now, that is what I call smart design!

Lynn MacLachlan and her jewelry

Lynne MacLachlan, based in Glasgow, creates jewelry that plays with light, space, and color. She takes an experimental approach with digital tools, exploring and pushing their capabilities, using bespoke software and 3D printing to realize complex forms.

Anna Porcu’s iconic cameos  

The daughter of an antiquarian, Italian jeweler Anna Porcu inherited her knowledge of antique artifacts and an eye for rarity and fineness to detail. She creates her own collection of jewelry using rare antique cameos. This will be Porcu’s fifth year at LOOT, which remains the only opportunity to purchase her work in New York.

Gerda and Nikolai Monies 

Danish based Gerda and Nikolai Monies, both trained goldsmiths, have made a name for themselves with their art to wear pieces that mix colors, textures, and shapes. Each piece is dramatic and individual and quite show stopping and more often than not, when they are displayed, they are displayed in multiples, adding to the impact.  They are definitely not for the faint of heart!

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.