Haute Event: David Webb’s Fashion’s Night Out

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Lizzie Tisch and Kat Cohen

Lizzie Tisch and Samantha Boardman hosted a cocktail party in the David Webb workrooms and archives last night during New York’s Fashion Night Out.

In 1941 at the age of 16, David Webb traveled from his birthplace, Asheville, North Carolina to New York City. His special gifts as a jeweler and designer soon became apparent, and shortly after his arrival, he was noticed by Antoinette Quilleret, a French woman with exquisite taste and an eye for talent. In 1948, with her backing, he formed David Webb Inc., setting up shop on 57th Street. Within a few years, David Webb had established himself as the ‘go to’ jeweler in Manhattan, and at the height of production his two full-time workshops employed 200 jewelers and 37 setters.

The New York social register flocked to him. They warmed to his personal charm and appreciated his brilliance as a designer. Special order pieces and the re-styling of older designs fueled a creative bond between David Webb and his discerning customers.

David Webb’s designs of the 1950s and early 1960s showcased endless variations on flowers and organic forms. His love of nature took shape in jewels of all sizes and varieties. Almost all of his iconic animal jewelry was designed in the 1960s. By the turn of the decade, he was trailblazing a new style…an emboldened look that spoke to a new era. The times were changing and he embraced them: the rich vocabulary of hammered gold, enamel, colors, textures and shapes were synthesized into a new geometry that reflected the spirit of the 1970s.

By his untimely death in 1975 he had established an incredible legacy. After his death, the company was managed by the Silberstein Family for 35 years. The company saw expansion and growth in new markets such as Beverly Hills, Houston and Kuwait.

In 2010, the company was sold to Sima Ghadamian, Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian. The three plan to carry forward the rich tradition of design, craftsmanship and creativity drawing on the immense archives of illustrations, models and molds, that represent the legacy of David Webb, a unique American genius.

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