When ‘Fashion Takes a Trip,’ Jewelry Comes Along

Fashion and jewelry are among the most visible indicators of what a society values, what it lacks and desires, mourns and celebrates. Such connections are being explored in a new exhibition, “Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip,” opening Nov. 22 at the Museum of the City of New York.

The show, which focuses on 1960 to 1973, “starts at 1960 because it’s the beginning of the modern decade,” said Phyllis Magidson, curator of the museum’s costume collection. (She and Donald Albrecht curated the exhibition and the accompanying book.) “It’s the start of the decade of space travel, of luxury air travel, of optimism” symbolized by President John F. Kennedy and especially his wife, Jacqueline.

“People aspired to achieve the Jackie look and wanted to know how to get it,” Ms. Magidson said. One way was with pearls: in the exhibition, a three-strand necklace by the costume jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane. (All the costume jewelry on display was from the museum’s collection; the high jewelry pieces were lent by Tiffany and Cartier and edited by Judith Price, the president of the National Jewelry Institute.)

“The finished look of the era was very ladylike,” she said, adding that Barbara Billingsley, who played the mother on the TV sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” vacuumed while wearing a strand of pearls.”

When the British Invasion arrived in the mid-’60s, “you didn’t want to look like your mother,” Ms. Magidson said. And, in jewelry, plastic replaced pearls — dome rings and drop earrings that shook as women shimmied in discothèques.

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