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2009 October 27

A Real Gem: Hutton Wilkinson

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(NEW YORK) Now available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue’s fine jewelry department, the fabulously glamorous Tony Duquette name has experienced a rebirth. President and creative director Hutton Wilkinson presented the collection, along with his new book, More is More: Tony Duquette yesterday evening at Saks New York, to a bevy of eager guests and jewelry enthusiasts. Wilkinson ignited discussion earlier in the year when he was in the news for filing suit against Michael Kors for trademark infringement, in response to the Kors Resort Collection, which used the Tony Duquette name. While at the Tony Duquette for Saks event, we talked with Wilkinson about what sets his jewelry apart, the nature of imitation and the status of his lawsuit with Kors.
EMILY POPP 

How did you become involved with the Tony Duquette brand?
I worked with Tony since I was seventeen and into the last five years of his life. We now have a beautiful collection of hand-woven printed silks, linens and cottons as well as a beautiful collection of Tony Duquette lighting fixtures that will launch Tuesday in New York. We also have furniture and archival pieces that are doing very well. And the next thing we want to do is tabletop pieces—dishware, et cetera. And last but not least, we are thinking of a second line of jewelry for Saks, and so that could be very exciting.

How else do you apply this "more is more" mantra to your life?
I live for parties. Actually, parties are more important to me than business. They always have to be fabulous; we don’t settle for anything less. We will decorate the entire house for a party; the waiters will be in costume, the food is always different, the music is always different—we will have dancers.

What makes your jewels so special?
All of it is one-of-a kind, and it’s all hand-made in New York, and it’s presented in suites. People don’t necessarily always buy in suites, but actually a lot of women do. We normally sell about four pieces at a throw. We’ve been known to sell as many as forty pieces in one sitting. It’s so rare today to have anything that is one-of-a-kind. If you put on the necklace and it doesn’t quite fit you, we will fix it, and perhaps use one of the jewels to make a ring.

Can you speak a bit about the nature of imitation when it comes to jewelry, yours specifically?
We work with a collection of stones, and the stones tell us what they want to be. It’s different from another jeweler who makes a drawing and then the stones fit into the drawing. That’s easily copied; anyone can do it. Ours is almost impossible to copy because the stones are so weird. When I buy my stones, I say, sell me the stuff that nobody else wants. Hopefully I can make these great big stones into something sensational, something byzantine and beautiful.

Any news on your trademark infringement lawsuit against Michael Kors?
As far as the status, there is no resolution. It is pending. I don’t know anything more at this point! I do know when you’re in business, you have to protect your trademark. You have to continue to protect it aggressively, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. This is why people have trademarks and copyrights.




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