Belgian born designer William De Lillo started his career working for reputable fine jewelry houses such as; Cartier, Harry Winston and Miriam Haskell. before branching out on his own with the help of Robert F. Clark (head designer for Miriam Haskell) forming William De Lillo Ltd. In New York City in 1968.
1968 was a significant time in modern day American History, the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War caused a cultural phenomenon and revolution where students took to the streets to protest war and social and sexual stereotypes. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, The beatles psychedelic music, Woodstock, the birth of Gay Pride and the Stone Wall Riots ignited a fashion movement in New York City of gender bending (unisex). Long hair, layers of beads, flowing robes started appearing on men channeling a Parisian Bohemian look. Inspired by his surroundings, William DeLillo started designing gender bending jewelry for men in 1968, his first collection constructed out of heavy gold tone rhodium plated brass included twisted ropes, chokers, fringe and tassels.
The unique bold aspect of DeLillo’s pieces attracted the attention of Elizabeth Taylor and American and French fashion houses which he later collaborated with. For Adolfo he created exaggerated layered pearl necklaces with tassel finishes. King Tut’s exhibition was a phenomenon is the early 1970’s; taking inspiration Mr.DeLillo created avant-garde, geometric, tubular encrusted jeweled collars for Bill Blass.
The vision and talent of William DeLillo and Robert F. Clark did not only transcend to jewelry, but also to art. Beautiful brutalist wire sculptures of different scales, depicting geometric shapes.
New York City’s fast paced lifestyle caused the designing duo to make a move to a chateau in the South of France. This was not the end, but the peak of their careers. In Paris, they collaborated with the house of Chanel, Nina Ricci, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent. The impeccable craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail built a reputable European clientele, one being the Duchess of Windsor. The Baron and Baroness de Rothschild sponsored an exhibit in Paris in 1978, showcasing jewelry and sculpture by William de Lillo and Robert Clark.
After a few years in France, William DeLillo and Robert Clark decided to move back to the United States, eventually settling down in Phoenix, Arizona. Not much is known about the House of DeLillo, however their pieces are some of the most scarce and coveted amongst private collectors and museums. Mr. DeLillo died in 2011 followed by his life partner Robert F. Clark a few years after.