Metamorphosis, a poetic strategy whereby plants and animals fused with the human form, was commonly used in art nouveau jewelry, perhaps most famously by Rene Lalique. Jewelers created mystical creatures, who emerged from nature erotically, as leaves and dragonfly wings were teased into looking like parts of the body. In comb making, parts of an animal or human body were elongated into being functional parts of the comb.

This comb was the star of the Lalique / Japanese comb-comparison exhibit in Hakone, Japan. The museum wouldn’t send the catalog outside of Japan. I had to ask my friend Shigeru-san’s brother to get it for me and send it. But, oh my God. I never knew this comb existed.

It is an honor for me to present what I believe to be the first Internet images of Lalique’s comb, “Metamorphosis.” It is ivory, with gold trim, pearls on the gold. The trim is faceted to the ivory by nails on the side and gold loops ended by lapis hearts. In it, a woman is born out of leaves: Rodin on a comb, an astonishing marriage of art and functional design.

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