No one wore Southwestern jewelry quite as elegantly as Millicent Rogers. It can be argued that no one did more to bolster the advancement of the craft and Native American artisans than she did. It is not an understatement to say that you and I and the rest of mainstream America likely would not be so enamored by -- or even as aware of -- squash blossoms or ketohs or statement cuffs, if Millicent hadn’t brought them to the forefront of fashion. She was truly a pioneer in that way. (There is abeautiful book that showcases her jewelry collection and museum; we highly recommend it.)
So much of the Taos collection is an homage to Millicent, and week by week we’ll be celebrating her style in a series. This week, we’re taking a look at how she went bold with bracelets.
Ketohs originally served as bow guards for Navajo warriors; simple wide bands of thick leather to protect their wrists from the snap of their bow strings. They evolved to become more ornate, incorporating sterling silver shields, and then stampwork, repousse, and eventually stones, mostly turquoise. After centuries of only being worn by men, ketohs became acceptable accessories for women, and often were traditional pieces passed down from generations. As their aesthetic grew more elaborate, they transitioned more toward decorative pieces than utilitarian ones. Millicent, more of a waif than a warrior, donned them surprisingly naturally.
One of Millicent’s signature styles was how beautifully she juxtaposed dainty diamonds with chunky Southwestern pieces of heavy sterling silver and turquoise. She had a way of wearing wide, bold sterling silver bands or large cluster cuffs with an elegance that made them seem graceful.
Perhaps one of our favorite aspects of Millicent’s style is her willingness to load up. It wasn’t uncommon for her to be wearing half a dozen bracelets or more. She was the queen of stackers and we love her for it.
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