What I Collect // Martine Chaisson

Martine Chaisson, Gallerist

Walk through Martine Chaisson’s namesake gallery in New Orleans, which specializes in artwork by established and emerging contemporary artists, and it’s clear that this is a woman with a discerning eye. Away from the gallery, Martine is drawn to a different kind of acquisition: The busy married mom of two is a collector of costume jewelry. “During the day, I’m either in mommy mode or working in the gallery—moving, patching and painting—so you’ll find me in Lululemon or jeans and Converse sneakers,” says Martine, who lives in apartment above the gallery with husband Juan Linares, their 3-year-old son, Jake, 1-year-old daughter, Lorelei, and the family dog, Baxter. “But come 5:30, the cocktail dresses come out.” So do the sparklers. “I go crazy with jewelry,” Martine admits. “For me, more is more.”

Martine’s collection, which stands at close to 30 pieces—for now—is chic, irresistible eye candy. Among the jaw-dropping offerings: a leopard-inspired bangle bedecked with green bejeweled eyes, kicky tassel earrings, and a faux sapphire necklace that wouldn’t look out of place grazing the décolletage of Princess Kate.

“My love of jewelry comes from my mother,” says Martine, who displays her favorite pieces on the top of a dresser in her walk-in closet, surrounded by framed pieces of art and treasured cards from close friends. “She had fantastic pieces from the late 70s and early 80s that she would let me play in when I was little.” Martine’s own personal preference skews more toward the late-50s and early-60s. “I love the super-feminine look,” she says. “Over-the-top costume jewelry that obviously are not real diamonds or sapphires, but who cares? They’re still fabulous.”

Apparently, Martine’s penchant for all things bling has been passed down to her precocious little girl Lorelei. “I named her after the Marilyn Monroe character from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, says Martine. “I joke with her all the time. When she plays in my costume jewelry, I’ll tell her, ‘Diamonds are girl’s best friend.’”

Square sapphire necklace (bottom left): “I love this faux square sapphire necklace because it’s so deceiving. I picked it up for $12 at Forever21 a few years ago—and every time I wear it no one believes me!”

Lattice necklace (bottom center): “This lattice necklace is one of these pieces that was ‘borrowed’ from my Momma’s closet. I know she’s going to see this and say ‘Hey! I want to wear that! Give it back!’”

Pink danglers (center): “This is a pair of pink dangling earrings, from the early 80s, are also from my Momma. I admired them as a child, and years later, she gave them to me.”

Tassel earrings (top left): “I recently purchased these tassel earrings at Em’s, a boutique here in New Orleans. They have such a vintage feel and the mint-colored tassel is so unexpected and fun.” https://www.instagram.com/shopems

Flower broach (left center): “This flower broach was a gift from my mother for my wedding day. I wore it pinned to the lavender ribbon on my bouquet.”

Ear cuff (right center): “I like to wear unusual ear cuff with an all-black outfit, my hair pulled back in a sleek pony tail.”

Bib necklace (far left): “This bib necklace floats around my neck and makes such a beautiful statement with a plunging neckline.”

Leopard bracelet: “One of my favorite pieces, this glamorous leopard bracelet feels like something Marilyn Monroe would have worn. The eyes are emerald green and the mouths of the two heads are the clasp.”

Lariat necklace (far right): “I’ve worn this gold mesh lariat necklace many different ways—as a belt, a headpiece, and a bracelet. It’s made of vintage watch pieces and old jewelry. I picked this piece up in the Bywater [a neighborhood in New Orleans] from talented designer Jess Leigh.” http://www.jessleighjewels.com

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