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Gala Colivet-Dennison jewellery lookbook esther theaker
Gala Colivet-Dennison SS17Photography Esther Theaker

Gala Colivet-Dennison finds beauty in awkwardness

For SS17, the emerging jewellery designer embraces the imperfect

For Gala Colivet-Dennison, jewellery is wearable sculpture. Born in Hackney but raised in France, the designer studied fine art at Kingston University, working mainly in large-scale sculpture using industrial materials before transitioning to jewellery. An organic and experimental process, it enabled her to bring her art closer to the body: exploring the relationship between natural form and that which is man-made. 

As a child, the designer often visited antique fairs – her parents are antique dealers. She remembers being beguiled by the vintage jewellery on display and, later, seeing it come to life on her mother. “My mum is on my mind while I’m designing,” she says. “She always wears thick chains and lethal rings – they are integral to her. I can’t imagine her without them.”

More than just an accessory, jewellery to her is “an extension of the body”. It is part of a person: their identity and history. For this reason, she creates pieces with presence, personality and with the intent to empower. She honours nature – building collections around the specific qualities of gemstones – and its connection to the body, women’s in particular. In a celebration of all these elements, the SS17 lookbook – published for the first time above – captures “the beautiful awkwardness of the way people naturally are”.

The SS17 story is equal parts fantasy and reality – for Colivet-Dennison, storytelling is very important. She understands the significance of a well-placed arm or a slightly off-centre gaze, and how a fuzzy-focus has the power to alter meaning. Featuring set design by Amy Stickland and shot by Esther Theaker, the lookbook depicts “strong, beautiful women in a domestic setting”. Models – Asta and Vian – are captured in poses natural to them: arms stretch behind heads, hands slump in pockets or rest on jutting hips, heads tilt back and hair tucks neatly behind ears – exposing angular and sculptural earrings.

“I used some rough agate slabs for the collection, which someone mistook as slices of salmon. I also have a huge fascination with rutile quartz – they seem to have what looks like strands of hair growing inside them” – Gala Colivet Dennison

“I was working with a variety of materials that might seem contradictory. So, texture was important in the lookbook,” Colivet-Dennison explains. “We wanted the photos to echo the physical elements of the jewellery but nothing too stylised.” The jewellery is somewhat abstract in shape, crafted in solid silver or brass which frames rough and richly coloured stones. Whereas the model’s hair is softly feathered, make-up is neutral and the clothes – styled by Isabelle Sayer – exude an air of understated and timeless style. The images, shot on film, possess a soft and dream-like quality by “deliberately playing around with the focus and framing in idiosyncratic ways.” An arrangement of model and still-life shots, the lookbook marries opposites, creating natural harmony and beauty in conflict.

Perhaps, for the most complete delineation of Gala’s SS17 collection, we need to look no further than the jewellery itself. Like the lookbook, the pieces celebrate the natural “beautiful awkwardness” of the gemstones – their intricate layers and unique markings. “I used some rough agate slabs for the collection, which someone mistook as slices of salmon. I also have a huge fascination with rutile quartz – they seem to have what looks like strands of hair growing inside them,” says the designer. The lesson: look once and look again, but closer this time. Embrace that which looks obscure or imperfect. Only then will you appreciate the history, personality and identity embedded within.

@galacolivetdennison