"The iconic choker was my biggest challenge - but I love a challenge. It was important to get it right as it was my favourite piece of Diana's jewels," Susan Caplan tells Hello! Fashion.
Vintage jewellery guru Susan was born into a family of passionate antique collectors, who had stores in Camden Passage in Islington, "so I’ve been surrounded by art and objects d’art from an early age." Her parents’ home was designed by revolutionary architect Walter Segal, featured a kitchen personally designed and fitted by Terence Conran and pieces by Eames, Hille and Robin Day. "These all deeply influenced my style and creativity and my eye for detail and appreciation of beautiful things." After travelling the world at 21 while working on the QE2 ocean liner, began selling antiques like her family, and found that she was especially drawn to vintage jewellery. "My namesake brand was launched in 2008 as a selection of curated collections for luxury department stores that created synergy between vintage and contemporary style and confirmed vintage fashion could be luxury," explains Susan.
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Princess Diana arrives at the White House in her iconic 'revenge dress' and pearl choker
Her vintage treasures have graced the catwalks and covers of many publications with Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn wearing Susan Caplan on the runway and Claudia Schiffer, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa all seen wearing the brand. Beyoncé and Adele both graced the cover of British Vogue in Susan Caplan. "Rhianna has been a loyal supporter since the outset, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such loyal support from the media and fashion industry," she divulges.
So of course it was natural that when it came to sourcing the vintage jewellery Elizabeth Debicki would be wearing to play Princess Diana in Netflix's fifth series of The Crown, they’d turn to Susan. "We were so grateful when The Crown's Costume Designer reached out," Susan reveals, "Due to our expertise in curating jewellery, we were asked to source interpretations of the pieces that we were briefed on. Working in TV & film is quite a new chapter for us and having worked with the Costume Department on the Crown, we’ve not only built a wonderful relationship but we truly value the craft of costume design."
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Susan Caplan's replica of the infamous necklace
Susan's team worked with them on several of the iconic scenes and looks, so you will come across many of her vintage pieces as you watch the series. But the ultimate challenge was sourcing Diana’s iconic pearl choker which was worn with her revenge dress, "It was so important for us to get it right as it was our favourite piece," says Susan. The four stranded faux pearl choker they created is inspired by Princess Diana's choker she wore at the White House as she danced with John Travolta. It features a central oval-cut brilliant jet Swarovski crystal complimented with round-cut clear crystals.
We asked Susan about what the process was like to replicate the iconic necklace:
How did the Susan Caplan team find Diana’s ‘revenge dress’ pearl choker for The Crown?
"Due to the nature of the film industry needing specific requirements, I was to source an interpretation of the one she famously wore when dancing with John Travolta and of course when she was seen in the ‘revenge dress’. This meant editing a vintage necklace from our archives," explains Susan, "Having been in the field of vintage jewellery for more than 40 years, I have amassed archived collections of vintage pearls and clasps, varying colours and sizes. My team and I got to work, sifting through the thousands of vintage pearls; colour and size were paramount to meet the approval of The Crown's costume designers."
Susan Caplan has over 40 years experience working with vintage jewellery
"Then there was the challenge of sourcing the centrepiece, changing the discoloured stones to sparkling clear ones - to complete the look we delved into another of our archived collections - thousands of Swarovski crystals (our go to) dating back to the 1930's all in their original packaging. We found the perfect supersized oval faceted gem - finally putting the strands of pearls together with the centrepiece to complete the look. A satisfying moment, challenge completed."
Why do you think Princess Diana and her jewellery is still so captivating?
"Diana was loved by so many. She is a true icon - a symbol of kindness, fashion and beauty whose legacy continues today. Her style and how she accessorised with jewellery was full of bold yet understated elegance which is still celebrated today by all generations."
What jewellery trends do you think Princess Diana will inspire now that The Crown season five has premiered?
"The pearl trend will undoubtedly continue in all forms whether it be with understated or statement pieces. Pearls have the power to evoke an air of timelessness whilst enhancing any look. I'm also certain that the supremely decadent trend of bold crystals will thrive as we’ve seen on the SS23 runways. A huge amount of our collections feature Swarovski crystals, some taken from our archived collections allowing us to redefine opulence and share these vintage pieces with our consumers."
What should we bear in mind when it comes to starting our own vintage jewellery collection?
"I would suggest doing a volume of research, acquiring a vintage collection takes a huge amount of historical knowledge and expertise which can be learnt through books, antique markets and at auction houses to name a few. Familiarising yourself by handling and looking at the pieces is very helpful. I would also always encourage going to a reputable vintage source to ensure authenticity. In terms of specifics, if you find a piece you love, check it`s condition. Condition is always important. And finally, enjoy it, it’s a beautiful passion full of history and stories!"
Shop The Crown x Susan Caplan collection here
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