For this week’s edition of Haute Jewelry, we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Martin Katz. The jeweler, whose designs are perennial favorites of Hollywood’s elite, has created some of the most iconic looks in red carpet history.
While it may be ubiquitous nowadays, the appearance of high jewelry on the red carpet is a relatively new phenomenon, the origin of which can be traced back to Katz himself. When we asked the jeweler about his first ‘red carpet moment’, he told us, “I more or less attribute it to Sharon Stone in 1991, when she was doing Basic Instinct. I was called to the set to loan her jewelry for a premiere, and after some conversation that I didn’t loan jewelry, the studio stepped in and asked me to do it as a favor. Before that, it was really just Armani dresses and Harry Winston jewelry – that was it. So when I, an unknown independent, hit the red carpet in the manner in which I did, it really kind of threw the whole thing. All rules were off.”
Since then, Katz’s jewelry has been a celebrity favorite, including most recently, Sandra Bullock, who wore Martin Katz jewelry during the press tour for Gravity. “There are celebrities that I’ve worked with over the last 20 years on the red carpet,” Katz said, “most of which I have fond memories of and still work with today. And those are the ones that really work a little more directly with me, versus through three deep of staff. They’re the ones that are always the most delightful to work with – they’re respectful and appreciative. Most of the times, the bigger the star, the more appreciative they are, and the lesser the star, the less appreciative they are.”
Although he’s proud not to have had any real misses, Katz did admit that a perfectly coordinated dress and jewelry can sometimes unwittingly be outshone. “I have had situations where everything seemed right and then the celebrity did something crazy like put on a ridiculous hairdo, and there’s so much talk of that, that you lost the beauty of everything else that came together so well,” Katz told us. “But such are the faux pas of fashion.”
Luckily for Katz, those situations are few and far between. Among the jeweler’s most famous creations are the Mogul Indian jewels Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars. Paired with a chartreuse green Christian Dior by John Galliano dress, the outfit catapulted Kidman to fashion royalty. “Originally they had asked for some rubies,” Katz told us. “When I saw the dress, I said, ‘You know, this would be fantastic with some vintage mogul Indian jewelry.’ So I convinced them to wear that and you can see what a hit it was – it looked great on her. We still see that photograph surfacing today; it’s still a very memorable photograph and a very memorable red carpet.”
Katz has also teamed up for collaborations off the red carpet, from a $1 million perfume bottle for DKNY to a diamond-clad cellphone for Motorola and a $5 million Miracle Bra for Victoria’s Secret. “The bra was a wonderful collaboration that we had a lot of fun doing – coming up with something different that hadn’t been done before,” Katz said. “The black diamonds with the accents of the rubies was something that was kind of exciting, and the two 100 carat black diamond drops. And of course, working with Adriana Lima was not hard at all!”
Most recently, Katz teamed up with The Plaza to create a one-of-a-kind suite in the iconic New York City hotel. The 5,000 square foot Jewel Suite features a 20’ ‘Waterfall of Diamonds’ chandelier, jeweled china, and original artwork by Katz. “Well that was an exciting phone call to receive! They originally wanted to do a diamond suite,” Katz told us, “but I thought a jewel suite has a richer sense to it, and we can play with the colors of all the jewel tones. It’s a three-level triplex, and we used lots of chartreuse, greens, purples, rich blues and accents with all these wonderful jewel-tone colors. The new ownership, they want to take the legend that was, and give it a rebirth, bring it back to the elegance the hotel had. Luckily our visions – of design and luxury – aligned, so it was a wonderful partnership and they’ve been absolutely fabulous to work with. They’ve spent millions of dollars doing this suite, and it’s really been a blast.”
We look forward seeing his future collaborations, and celebrating many more anniversaries with Mr. Katz!
Photos courtesy Martin Katz.