Hollywood movie stars and socialites of the 20s, 30s and 40s were masters at meticulously managing their images. To grab the spotlight, they amped up their wattage by piling on the glamour. As movie star and famed figure skater Sonja Henie said, "Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles." That, among other reasons, was why famous women decked themselves with jewelry created by Paul Flato. Though not a household name, this world famous jeweler, who died at 98 in 1999, is celebrated for his special flair. Author (and former Westporter) Barbara Irvine Bray has written a book about him, "Paul Flato: Jeweler to the Stars," and on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. at Westport Library, talks about the designer and his innovative jewelry. Bray, who now lives in Los Angeles, is a graduate of the New York Gemological Institute of America. She worked as a Christie's auction house jewelry specialist for several years and, in addition to her writing, continues in the field as a consultant and appraiser.
Texas-born Flato brought a unique vision to 20th century jewelry. ''He was the first of the major American jewelers to do highly imaginative work on a par with European jewelers,'' historian Penny Proddow told the NY Times. And his clientele was always top tier. Flato designed a compact for Elizabeth Arden, as well as special gems for Katharine Hepburn, Mae West and Merle Oberon, among others. And in addition to Hollywood, Flato also attracted East Coast socialites by inviting the year's debutantes to model his jewelry at New York's Ritz Carlton, National Jeweler magazine reports. Hear Barbara Irvine Bray describe the fascinating, multi-faceted story of Paul Flato and you'll be treated to a glamorous interlude. The event is free. For more information, visit the Library's website .
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