Hollywood Style- TONY DUQUETTE

Several years ago, I was in a store in Palm Beach that was having a book signing along with an exhibition of some of the most unique one of a kind pieces of jewelry I have ever seen. They were beyond description. Rare, over sized gems set into the finest gold, with settings that resembled rays of sunlight. I was mesmerized by their colors and fine detailing. Who was the creator of such beauty?

The man was Tony Duquette (1914-1999)

f0a6b3700f5dd2790901794d94725ddbI was instantly obsessed with finding out everything I could about this incredibly talented person. I purchased the book which was signed by the author, Hutton Wilkinson (and also co-written by Wendy Goodman)3b1169ebfa4874b320babd23461bf10cDSC00362To my surprise, I learned that, not only was this man a celebrated jewelry designer, but he was a legend in the glory days of Hollywood. He was a set designer, a costume designer and was especially known for his “over the top” interior designs among the Hollywood and social elite.

The Duchess of Windsor was among his clientele and below is a photo of her wearing one of his custom necklaces.

13307e4e266903f94c1f719f2ebd46beHutton Wilkinson began working for Mr. Duquette while still a teenager. He also became a jewelry and interior designer. Mr. Wilkinson carries on the legacy of Tony Duquette Inc. and is president of the Elsie De Wolf Foundation. Elsie De Wolf, known as “the first Lady of Interior Decoration” is credited with discovering Tony Duquette.  She was completely in awe of his creations and in the 1940’s, Elsie gave him free rein to decorate her entire new home she purchased in Beverly Hills. The most famous result of this project was a custom made secretary that Tony had painted in black and green lacquer. It was heavily adorned with typical Duquette detailing and has come to be known as one of his finest works.ee27d6796fb21f6265209ff9bba8e24aTony’s creation were not just limited to inside the home. Tony and his wife “Beegle” owned a house which they named “Dawnridge”. Together they created an outdoor sanctuary with buildings and sculpture that were in typical Duquette style.

“Phoenix Rising from it’s Flames” was an illuminated sculpture standing twenty eight feet tall!

cb048cbd5c43ba1c9f4c3e544793155c“Spirit Houses” and gardens at Dawnridge

d68001c9ae911b0d811408dc96ef2b29 8f2b4c3ac8fb0eafc299bb6955661d91Over the years, Tony and Beegle would buy properties and turn each one into a fantasy land of creations inside and out. Each one would have a theme and the properties would take on lives of their own. Huge parties were held regularly; a who’s who of Hollywood always in attendance. The Duquettes were in such demand by the “A List”.


43a43c2b6271aeb1d0cc96107a24f3b451f7873767e1f66750ed9378213f0a0a7595f5c1186668054ef7541912e738d4Tony started to gain a following in Europe, especially in Paris. He moved there at one point and earned the distinction of being the first American to exhibit a one- man show at the Louvre. Of course while living there, he indulged himself in the very ornate and grand details well known to the French.

67d8613c421fed05f5312966183e2792http://tonyduquette.com/doris_duke.htm3499ec0340b5d6ee7af08a178f62ac69dcce54466462734bb813d2e8620c7880Tony even received commissions in Venice

523a0857070f30c76953641db9f7e1a2794750d2ca1e40cc3543101a247347ebFollowing are more photographs of rooms that are wonderful examples of the over the top attention to detail and whimsical style of Mr. Duquette.

0f55b95d6eb00da9c946982c891dc2f48936dfd4e5c5d8e37df8a7304bbad739A room completely covered in shells…b18c557ab399ea34f85853cd056e7adaa749c507347df60cd71a9f93fefab6d2cd95a227ee6772d9e1f7d0e969d322db87f43a4a163b670884127976790340f1ed01cc928f50adb75adacba3409ceae4This happens to be my favorite space. True Art Deco at it’s absolute Hollywood glamorous best!

f5a391138b688536610569acfa726045This all purple room still is in style today.

b863fd7cab38a1cdb0dc1ec0f63ed4c2Coral and green4eb6158bae7ffa0d844859da13a6f93534cfb2e642f723952ab5369276b01883A powder room with faux bois trim and detail4e25f9dfcfc61f1e3cd4d0665a3e3a57A overhead view of an entrance. The chandelier was designed by Tony as well.

2f2fd2764466be71348abfe31f97cd2eAnd what would a post from me be without gilding, crytals and French antiques?? I love how the alabaster urns are lit from inside.

12350685ce116294f4a79284bd5116d2I must say, I am so glad I wandered into that store that very hot day! I had the pleasure of seeing and holding several pieces of Tony’s jewelry. I was lucky to have a piece of Hollywood history in my hands and to also discover the man who was the creator of it all. Tony Duquette is truly a design legend!


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