The name Mignon Faget has come to represent iconic Louisiana jewelry, but in 1969, Faget was actually an up-and-coming clothing designer in New Orleans when she decided to create a few coastal-inspired accessories to go with her collection. More than half a century later, her bold and organic jewelry shapes have sparked a new exhibition at the West Baton Rouge Museum.
“Mignon Faget designed purses, skirts and vests in leather and suede before she designed jewelry in sterling silver,” says museum historian Ferin Jones. “The first sterling silver design was taken from a sand dollar, part of her personal seashell collection, made to accessorize her apparel designs.”
The show, which originated from a conversation between museum exhibits coordinator/registrar Lauren Hawthorne and co-curator Nolde Alexius, features more than 80 pieces of Mignon Faget jewelry from 27 series created between 1970 and 2019. Visitors will see rare pieces cast in silver and gold from forms including seashells, animal bones and architectural fragments. Among the most notable items on display are an Armament Cycas pin, a pair of Voussoir cuff links, and a Beast of Knowledge pin from the Romanesque Return series, considered Faget’s tour de force.
“Mignon has described New Orleans as layered, rich and standing apart from the mainstream,” Jones says. “When her designs were first enjoying national representation, she decided to establish her business in her hometown rather than leave for New York City or San Francisco. Her lifelong draw to the culture, built environment and natural world of New Orleans, and to the marine life of the Gulf Coast, is reflected in her oeuvre.”
An opening reception for the exhibition will take place at 6 p.m. August 1.
“‘The Collectible Life of Mignon Faget’ is unique for its focus on personal collections of Mignon Faget jewelry,” Jones says, “showcasing not only her artistry but also her collectors’ curation of it.”