The Bijou Museum in Casalmaggiore (Cremona) – founded in 1986 and the only one of its kind in Italy – hosts until 16 February the interesting exhibition “It all started with a button …”, dedicated to Lea Stein and edited by Lorena Taddei. Adored by collectors from all over the world, the French artist reveals in this exhibition her creative journey into the world of plastic jewelery through hundreds of pieces never before exhibited and coming directly from her Parisian archive: the rarest brooches, among which the amazing silk-screened, the objects of tablecloths (some of them created for the Maison Guerlain), bracelets, rings, necklaces and…rivers of buttons! Buttons are at the centre of Lea Stein’s work and life, because it is thanks to an original button that she wears, that she becomes acquainted with her future husband and collaborator Fernand Steinberger. Born in 1936 in Paris from a Jewish family of Polish origin who escaped the horrors of the war, Lea Stein began the production of her brooches in the sixties: collectors know her famous characters (the Ballerina, Carmen, the Diver) and animals (the Ric dog, the Gomina cat, the famous Fox), made in the most curious and fascinating patterns with cellulose acetate sheets, cut and “superimposed” by her chemist husband Fernand with a technique he himself invented and still secret, always imitated worldwide: up to 50 overlapping ‘sandwich’ layers that even allow the insertion between one layer and another of fabrics such as silk or lace, to create particular shades and textures or create three-dimensional effects. A job that can take up to six months. The originality of her pieces is therefore entrusted to this ingenious recipe and is guaranteed by the “dovetail” clasps on which the inscription “Lea Stein – Paris is engraved”.