Ravishing Retro: The First Uniquely American Style

"Forties jewelry is big, but it's very wearable, and it works well with a lot of clothes today-especially tailored clothes on tall women," says Camilla Dietz Bergeron, a Manhattan-based dealer who specializes in Retro jewelry. "You don't have to do contortions to figure out a way to put it on, and, obviously, jewelry that people can wear is easier to sell," Bergeron says. "Jewelry made in this period by Van Cleef & Arpels-without question one of the most important designers of the 1940s-looks just as contemporary as anything made today." Some say Retro was the first fashion look born in the United States. Cut off from war-torn Europe, Americans turned instead to the movies for fashion inspiration. Cartier began to shift its focus from occupied Paris to London and New York, eventually leading to regional distinctions and what became known as the "Cartier New York" look. Meanwhile,

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