Gisele Ganne’s jewellery has blazed the pages of Vogue, i-D, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar. Why? Because fashion loves any excuse for big bold beautiful jewellery, especially of late when it’s celebrating death, whether it be human, animal or relationship. Cleverly the French farmer’s daughter Gisele has turned mourning into another excuse to glam up – after all what better for a cadaverous haute couture model than a garishly gorgeous suicide celebration?
When was the first time you put an image of death into your work?
Death always been in my topic but it was more preponderant in my final year of my MA at the Royal college of Art. During the summer of 2007, I watched the Rules of Attraction, I have been so fascinated by the suicide scene in this movie! It was so beautiful! From there, I started to research about death and funeral custom and discovered the Victorian mourning jewellery which I fell immediately in love with!
I went and had a look at your display in Wolf & Badger. The sale assistant said your larger pieces were surprisingly doing better than the more affordable range of your collection. Why do you think that is?
That was a real surprise! A very good surprise. I was selling in Kabiri before Wolf & Badger. They had the same kind of pieces. In a year, they never sold big pieces but a lot of small ones. Yet in six months, Wolf & Badger sold only big and expensive pieces!
I don’t really know how to explain it. Notting Hill attracts another type of clientele and my big pieces have been featured world wide in so many magazines.
That’s great news! Why did you decide to make the giant bird skull pieces? What are they made from and what is the process?
There is a real bird skull inside the divorce knuckleduster. They are electroformed (a special technique which recovers the bird skull and rose in metal) and gold plated.
My first topic was mourning but mourning isn’t just for dead people it is also for dead relationships, for marriage. So here the divorce collection came. In France, we had this old custom which was to give to the bride a glass globe for her wedding, she will put her crown and bouquet inside where there is a lot of decoration and symbols to give luck to the marriage. Those symbols included a dove and some roses. As half of weddings end up in divorce, killing those symbols, I decided to make a divorce ring to celebrate this dead wedding! With a bird skull and dead roses!
Where about in France are you from? Have people in your family celebrated this tradition?
I am from the countryside near Nantes, in the mid-west. My dad is a farmer so I grew up in a farm! This tradition is old and nobody celebrates it anymore! My grandma on my mother’s side was one of the last one to have one!
Are the bird skulls actually cast from dove skulls?
No they are not doves but magpie or raven which are easier to find.
If you weren't a jewelry designer what do you think you'd do?
Since I was three, I claimed to everybody that I would be a designer! I didn't really know the specification but I was sure it would be a creative job. I started with three years of art school and three others in product design school where I got my BA and MA. I finally ended up doing a second MA at the Royal College of Art in jewellery! It is here where I really found myself and now I know I always wanted to be a jewellery designer! So if I wasn’t that, I would probably be a product designer or a shoes designer.
Have you thought of casting any other skulls or bones?
Always!! I love skulls! I am really obsessed with them so I’m always seeking new specimen for my collection.
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