I’ll Glitter and Gleam So…
We sparkle a lot, don’t we? The Imperial Court of New York is known for its big jewelry, and for good reason. We are sometimes the most over-jeweled drag queens in the world, and occasionally will listen to the advice of the great Coco Chanel, who said, “Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”
Who am I kidding? We never listen to Coco. We’re Emperors, Empresses and drag royalty in New York: we put one more piece on!
New York’s courtiers benefit from being in New York: people from all over the world come here to be part of Broadway — singers, dancers and choreographers, costume designers, wigmakers and costume jewelers.
When your humble correspondent first joined the Imperial Court of New York in 1997, there were three jewelers among our membership: the great Larry Vrba, Robert Sorrell and David Mandel. Each one of them had a different style, a favorite period and their own eye for color, and every one had a passionate and devoted following. Not only would they create work for courtiers, but as Dame Dina Dynell, the Grand Duchess Swana Swarovski and Infanta Shonda Lear, they were also their own best walking billboards!
Today those three men are still actively producing some of the finest costume jewelry in the world, and they’ve inspired others to step up learn the craft as well. Today’s courtiers also have access to the art of Chris Crouch, Tim Thorin and Rob DiSanto, in addition to dozens of other designers around the country working with courts throughout the system.
These designers have their own creative spirit and vision, but are also studied historians of jewelry through the ages: whether you want something that ‘could be real’ or something that’s a fantasy out of a Broadway dream, they find a way to give you exactly what you want.
Of course, sometimes it feels like an arms race: who has the biggest, who has the shiniest, who’s wearing something new. Many courts have guidelines about who can wear what kind of head adornment and who can’t, but not New York. Save a rule that only an elected monarch can wear a full circle/ round crown, we don’t put limits on creativity or sparkle and even the newest members of ICNY can walk the runway with a foot high tiara or dripping in a mantle of Swarovski crystal.
Fortunately, New York’s jewelers also “get” the Court. They’re not just vendors, they’re members, and in the cases of Chris Crouch and Rob DiSanto, also past monarchs (Empress XXIV Farrah Moans and Emperor XVII Rob Hunter de Woofs, respectively). Oh, and in addition to being vendors and members, they’re also among ICNY’s biggest and best donors. Each year, we can count on them for tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry for auctions and raffles, and they are a backbone of how ICNY has been able to give away over two million dollars over the last 30 years.
In contrast to Coco Chanel, New York’s true Empress, Brooke Astor once said, “If I go up to Harlem or down to Sixth Street, and I’m not dressed up or I’m not wearing my jewelry, then people feel I’m talking down to them. People expect to see Mrs. Astor, not some dowdy old lady, and I don’t intend to disappoint.”
New York’s Imperial Court feels the same way, Mrs. Astor and we don’t ever disappoint.
MOANS, Sorrell Originals and Thorin & Co., will all be presenting their work for sale during Night of a Thousand Gowns and the Imperial Court of New York’s coronation weekend.COME GLITTER WITH US