Lyda Coppola – Toppo (Venice, 1915- Milan, 1986) was the designer and founder, along with her brother, of Coppola and Toppo, a fashion jewelry company active in Milan from 1948 to 1986. The accessories created by Lyda – bijoux above all, but also bags, scarves, belts, foulards – are precisely what gave the final touch to many of the outfits created by the stylists who influenced French Haute Couture of the late 1940s and by the Italian “boutique” fashion designers of the fifties, sixties and seventies.
At the beginning of her career, Lyda Coppola, perhaps due to her origins – her mother was from Trieste and had Jewish origins, and her father was from Naples – realized her products by combining, in an unusual way, traditional Italian materials from different parts of the peninsula, such as pearls made of Venetian glass and coral from Torre del Greco.
Immediately after the end of World War II, starting from 1948, Coppola and Toppo’s bijoux became famous in Paris (Elsa Schiaparelli, Jacques Fath, Edward Molyneaux, Robert Piquet, Pierre Balmain, Jeanne Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Cristobal Balenciaga, Jacques Heim were their first customers) and then in the United States, where – starting in the early fifties and for at least the following fifteen years – most of their production was based. The press, from “Vogue” France to “Vogue” America, and with editorials in “Harper Bazaar”, “Women’s Wear Daily”, “The New York Times”, “Herald Tribune”, accompanied the launch of the two annual collections of Coppola and Toppo in the most important American cities, increasing their commercial success. Since the early 1950s, Lyda Coppola has been creating jewels for Emilio Pucci and for most of the Italian fashion designers: Roberto Capucci, Germana Marucelli, Carosa, Biki, Sorelle Fontana, Pino Lancetti, Patrick de Barentzen, Federico Forquet, Enzo, Ken Scott, Valentino, Krizia. The combination of Coppola bijoux and designer clothes is captured by extraordinary photo shoots by Gian Paolo Barbieri (author of other 40 shots, reproduced here), Henry Clark, Franco Rubarteli, published by international fashion magazines.
The story of Coppola and Toppo unfolds at the same time as the growth and affirmation of Italian fashion, which went from being a simple craftsmanship in the early 1950s to becoming a flourishing industry known all around the world in the 1980s as Made in Italy.
Today, the bijoux and accessories by Coppola and Toppo are some of the most popular collectibles among collectors of vintage jewelry.