“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend – so they say. Some girls seem to adore sequins even more. So do artists on stage, sportswomen, and me like ice figure skaters for their spangles costumes.
Paillettes, as the shimmering miniature discs are called in French, development probably goes back to the ancient Egyptians and thus dates back about 3,000 years. When archaeologists discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb the young mummified king’s body was found draped in lavish garments with what Smithsonian.com described as “gold sequin-like disks” sewn onto them.
Of course, those had been made from solid gold not plastic like ours today. In the 1930s, sequins were made of gelatin from animal carcasses because the material could be rolled into sheets and punched into shapes. The challenge with that is gelatin dissolves in water.
Wearing sequin dresses in the rain could end up disastrous, and they hadn’t been washing-resistant. In 1952, DuPont invented Mylar and that changed the sequin game yet again. Herbert Lieberman who founded Algy Trimmings Co. (today based in Miami, Florida) was a pioneer of sequin production in the United States. He adopted the transparent polyester film Eastman Kodak would use. Mylar surrounded the plastic-colored sequin. Et voilà – handwashing with care became an option.
Acting icon Sharon Stone seems one of the sequin lovers: On five of the last six red or green carpets on which she radiantly faced the photographers, she wore sparkling spangles. Conquering her audience with irresistible charisma, human depth, and a great acting variety she equally convinced as a femme fatale in “Basic Instinct” in 1992 as in Martin Scorsese's “Casino” (1995), for which she received an Oscar nomination and the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But the American actress does not limit herself to the role of the man-consuming vamp: Golden Globe nominations for her dramatic performance in The Mighty” (1998) and for her comedic talent in “The Muse” (1999) followed. Stone also navigates the independent cinema, working with directors such as Jim Jarmusch in “Broken Flowers” (2005) and John Turturro in “Lovelace” (2013).
Now, in 2021, she was awarded France's highest order for cultural workers, the “Commandeur des Arts et Lettres”. Also this year the Zurich Film Festival honored Sharon Stone with its highest distinction to be given.
Yvonne Heinen-Foudeh for Needle’s Eye