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The Purple Shop- Anthony Gardner

The late Anthony Gardner (1938-2023), a notable London-based jewellery dealer and collector specialised in both the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts periods.  He established The Purple Shop in the 1960s with his civil partner Michael Becker (1943-2013). They originally sold fur coats and belts on the Portobello Road market, but soon created the famous and much-loved London shop and brand. Specialising in costume jewellery and later in luxury Art Nouveau antiques and becoming world-leading experts in their field.

 

Their business had a great following in Chelsea and further afield. They opened at a time when the Kings Road was full of creative energy and the home to contemporary designers like Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes and Mary Quant. Among their customers were Princess Margaret and Barbra Streisand. Purple Shop designs and jewellery were regularly seen on catwalks and fashion magazines across Europe.

Anthony was a trained RADA actor in a cohort with Albert Finney, Sian Phillips, Sarah Miles and Tom Courteney. He occasionally acted on stage in the West End and had several screen appearances, alongside legends such as John Hurt, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, John Cleese and Vanessa Redgrave. One of his most memorable performances was with Elizabeth Taylor in Franco Zeffirelli's film 'The Taming of the Shrew'.

Michael was originally from Hamburg and trained as a graphic designer at Central St Martins. He worked for London fashion brands before honing his skills with jewellery making. Capturing the fashions and zeitgeist of Chelsea from the late 1960s to the 1980s as well as focusing on Art Nouveau designs and developing an unrivalled expertise.

Business and life partners for over 50 years, Anthony and Michael were avid collectors at their home in West London and their collection includes works that undoubtedly influenced their designs and projects.

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