When Camilla Dietz Bergeron passed, it was “a great loss to the industry”, but that phrase never quite sums up the personal loss. Camilla was a woman of a different era. She was rare, feisty, charming and lovely. As I said to my friend right after she passed, Camilla was a real lady. She was a lady in that grand Southern sense. She had grace and gumption. She was fearless and strong. Camilla blended a keen business acumen with her strong sense of personal style. She grew a jewelry business built by her Southern charm and impeccable taste. I was lucky to have been around her, even though it was for just a short while.
When I was younger, and wanted to move to New York from Los Angeles, I was asked to work with Gus and Camilla for a short stint. Camilla let me stay in her studio, which I thought was posh and stylish in a great building on the Upper East Side, right off Park Avenue. I would get an occasional call at the odd late hour - Camilla needed help getting out of a necklace or bracelet. Doing little personal favors for Camilla came with the territory and I was happy to oblige. Along the way, I got to admire Camilla's collection of jewelry. It was lost on me in the beginning. I could barely comprehend the meaning of who Suzanne Belperron was, or why Paul Flato hand pins were chic. In fact, I wouldn't know what CHIC was without first studying Camilla's style. She embodied, and lived it effortlessly.
The entire time I knew her, Camilla had MS, but that never slowed her down. Shopping on Madison Avenue or getting a coffee at Food Emporium, you could often find her on her scooter. When I would see her around the neighborhood, she always asked me about my partner Richard, and never failed to notice my jewelry. A while back I remember going to Woodbury Commons with her and Gus, and helping her in the fitting room. I would be there, eager to help her in and out of sweaters and pants as she found the perfect fit to complete her look. MS is a terrible disease. While she must have had pain and frustration, Camilla never complained. She handled every situation with a calm, "I got this" attitude. Once she
accidentally set her trash can on fire with a cigarette. She just called to Jane nonchalantly. When lunch fell off the desk… No problem, the dogs will have at it.
I never experienced, but only heard about the Wall Street Camilla, the trustee to Vanderbilt University Camilla and the League of 200 Camilla. She was so much to all walks of life, effortlessly a leader and respected. I am happy just to have been around jewelry lover Camilla - to learn how to wear a clip earring “the ONLY kind of earring”. I heard her opinion to use bronzer and Laura Mercier makeup sets, and most importantly that a lady must wear a bra that flatters and fits correctly!