Duquette first found fame creating costumes and sets for musicals during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He and Wilkinson, his longtime business partner and design collaborator, also designed for theater and dance productions, as well as the homes of their private clients.
Duquette brought that same design sensibility to the jewelry he created for his mother, aunts, wife, and later, private clients. He was famed for using anything that helped him capture the quality he was seeking: what he found in the streets, in the attic, in the desert, in the garden, and in the sea.
He had a life-long fascination with jewelry and bright, shiny things.
Wilkinson has since devoted much of his time to the design of unique jeweled creations under the Tony Duquette trademark. His work has been worn by Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, Sharon Stone, Liza Minnelli, Ellen Burstyn, Mandy Moore, Drew Barrymore, and Reese Witherspoon, to name a few.
Wilkinson also authored three books about Tony Duquette – his design philosophy, creative process, and jewelry.
Fashion designer John Galliano wrote in the forward to More is More, the second volume written by Wilkinson about Duquette, “Tony Duquette had the eye, lived the dream, created the ultimate setting. He mixed glamour with the glittering social scene like others would hang decorations on a Christmas tree. He applied these baubles of beauty to real life in his designs, and later in his jewelry line, and made everything beautiful.”
Duquette created his early jewelry pieces at the same time he was designing ballroom scenes, fashion, and dream sequences for MGM studios, 20th Century Fox, and Universal Studios. His film work included The Ziegfeld Follies, starring Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer; Lovely to Look At, with Zsa Zsa Gabor; and To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Legendary directors Vincent Minnelli and Alfred Hitchcock sought out the freelance designer for his ability to bring his bold, fantastical creations to their sets.
He won a Tony award for Best Costume for the original Broadway production of Camelot and was the first and only American to be honored with a one-man show at the Louvre in Paris. Another highlight of Duquette’s career was creating a commissioned necklace of citrine, tourmaline, and cultured mabe pearls for the Duchess of Windsor.
Duquette presented her with an 18K gold wreath of vines and flowers and she wore the necklace often, according to Wilkinson. By wearing it to evening events – even though most wore platinum at the time – she started the trend of wearing gold jewelry after five o’clock.
If it's not fabulous, it's meaningless.