Summer Arts Events in Boston: Jewelry & Fashion Collections

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Where to go and what to see for your summer arts fix.


Pair of tassel earrings, 2018, by Hemmerle. Black finished iron, white gold, sapphire tassels. Gift of Hemmerle with the generous assistance of Christian and Yasmin Hemmerle. / Photo courtesy of Hemmerle, courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Beyond Brilliance

Highlights from the MFA Boston’s vast jewelry collection will, at long last, be on view for the public to see once the Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation gallery opens. The MFA’s assortment of jewels encompasses a robust trove of treasures that range from ancient artifacts to fine jewelry to designs made by contemporary designers. Spanning 4,000 years, the collection explores how jewelry can communicate strong messages not only about its wearer but also about the art and culture of the time in which the pieces were crafted. Showcasing more than 150 objects, the array includes an ancient-Egyptian broad collar necklace, along with dazzling 20th-century designs by Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari, and fashion jewelry by Chanel, Dior, and Elsa Peretti; adornments made by present-day jewelers, including Wallace Chan, Anna Hu, and Feng J will also be on display.

Opening May 18, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.

“Iris Barrel Apfel Collection,” Fashion and Design Gallery, PEM. / Photo by Kathy Tarantola/Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum

Iris Barrel Apfel Collection

In March, renowned fashionista Iris Apfel died at 102. One of the original true fashion stylists of the era, Iris was a collector, businesswoman, and interior designer. She and her husband, Carl, were a decorating team: Unable to find cloth appropriate for period décor, Iris adapted a design from an old piece of fabric and had it woven in a friend’s family mill; she and Carl then set up Old World Weavers in 1952, commissioning traditional makers around the globe. Though they sold the company in 1992, Iris, with her signature oversized glasses and iconoclastic stylings, was nowhere near slowing down. In 2009, the Peabody Essex Museum hosted the exhibition “Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” which featured more than 80 ensembles reflecting her singular and inexhaustible creative spirit. Iris greatly admired PEM’s installation of her collection, so much so that she pledged the “Rare Bird of Fashion” collection as a promised gift to the museum and thereafter regularly donated many other pieces from her collection. In 2019, she gave the museum a selection from her late husband’s equally adventuresome clothing collection. With Iris’s donation of the “Rare Bird of Fashion” collection in 2023, PEM houses more than 1,000 works representing Iris and Carl Apfel; for those who revered the icon’s imitable style, this permanent collection is a must-see.

Ongoing, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500, pem.org.


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