Jewelry is a miniature art form. This craft holds the same principles, ideas, and virtues with the other, more popular disciplines of art. It’s only because it’s heavily interspersed with commerce and business that jewelry is magnanimously set aside as more of a business venture rather than a form of art. Same goes for other areas within the trillion-dollar fashion industry. As many brands continue to effortlessly prove, however, jewelry represents some of the wildest imaginations and the most ingenious creativity brought forth on any industry. There are some pieces that deserve to be in museums as much as paintings and sculptures, particularly those of Gaelle Khouri’s.
If there’s one jewelry designer out there who best exemplifies the marriage between jewelry design and fine artistry, it’s Lebanese designer Gaelle Khouri. Her creations are among some of the most magnetic and magnificent. They can instantly draw one’s eyes similarly to how a Michelangelo sculpture or a Van Gogh painting captures one’s attention. Her brand is primarily known for their surrealist ornaments, an art movement that has oftentimes touched base with the fashion industry for several decades now. Today, Khouri proves that artistry and jewelry go hand-in-hand, and one without the other just won’t work at all.
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From Finance to Fine Jewelry
Similarly to how other important designers started in the game, Gaelle Khouri didn’t initially plan to become the widely-known jeweler she is now. Born to a family of academics in Tripoli, a city in northern Lebanon, she centered her academic career towards finance. She always explained that growing up in the academic-geared town influenced her to create her initial career goals. At age 20, she moved to New York City to get her masters in the field and got a job in economics. However, as her career in finance and economics started to rise, she’s often shared that at the time, she thought about what she really wanted to do was something completely different—design.
After she cut short her financial career, Khouri interned in various fashion houses to learn and start designing. She worked for the likes of Oscar De La Renta and Elie Saab, two undeniable powerhouses in the industry, wherein she worked on the business side but eventually learned all the tricks of the trade. They even offered Khouri permanent positions in the companies, but she declined knowing full well she wanted to start her own business. After going back to school to further learn the art of jewelry design, she eventually opened her eponymous line in July of 2015.
Khouri is widely-influenced by her native Lebanon which is very evident in the style and aesthetics of her pieces. In her hometown of Tripoli, the Gold Souk is said to be the oldest of its kind in the area. From the curved lines, heavy focus on finger accessories, and the substantial gilding, it’s clear that her Lebanese origins have been steady inspirations. She’s even often expressed that her affinity for fine jewelry and attention to detail stem from her Middle Eastern upbringing. Specifically, she has a special interest towards rings, bracelets, and other hand and finger accessories—influenced by how Muslim women in the region wore such pieces to spice up their conservative outfits.
Couture and Conceptual
The Gaelle Khouri brand differentiates their collections into two kinds: Couture and Conceptual. Through this process, they’re able to intricately focus on individualistic designs that cater to a wider variety of customers. The first of the two, Couture, makes use of the most exotic stones and materials to further push the brand’s level of luxury. These pieces are generally the more intricate in her range, crafted to perfection by her artisans. Bejeweled by the likes of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds, each is one of a kind. They exemplify the general idea of fine jewelry yet are still elevated by the creative design and the stunning craftsmanship.
The second kind of their jewelry, Conceptual, is more casual in terms of overall style and aesthetic. It’s in this class where they usually trot out the flora and fauna-inspired creations. Quirky yet sophisticated, the Conceptual pieces are incorporated with the surrealist aesthetic that has since become one of her indelible signatures. The animal-inspired creations, in particular, harken back to Elsa Schiaparelli’s haute couture in the 1930’s—the designer who first established the strong relationship between fashion and surrealism. Furthermore, these items also evoke a more gothic vibe compared to the Couture selection. They contain a certain rebellious spirit in the way they’re formed and imagined, breaking standard fine jewelry rules to further establish their own identity.
“The Garden of Earthly Delights”
On July 2015, Gaelle Khouri released their debut collection simultaneously with their actual brand launch. Named “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” their first-ever range of exquisite jewelry was inspired by the modern woman’s relationship with nature. Beyond the standard floral pieces, this collection shed light on the complexities of a woman by integrating it into the complexities of nature. As some of the label’s pieces may look undesirable at first glance, the surreal quirkiness beholdens anyone who looks further into their details and fine artistry. A few stand-out pieces from this line are the shimmering deep plum Cucaracha ring, the rose gold “Tyche Twisted Link” ring and the emerald-eyed Pelican earrings.
The Gaelle Khouri Woman
In many of her interviews, Khouri has often been asked who her brand’s target market is, and she answers the same every time. “She is cultivated, sophisticated and a fashion-forward thinker. She can afford fine jewelry but is looking for a distinctive edge in the pieces she wears. She seeks quality and does not follow the pack when it comes to personal luxury.” Khouri shared. In many respects, her creations hold true to the kind of clientele she aims to cater to and satisfy. Her very specific mindset has led her to design some of the most stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces in the entirety of the fine jewelry market.
Lebanese jewelry brand Gaelle Khouri and their namesake founder is proof that the road to success need not be planned out in the beginning. They also show that the complexities can become the beautiful inspirations for some of the most exquisite pieces in fine jewelry today. Celebrating life and love, Gaelle Khouri and her luxury jewelry label is bound for greater success, all because of her rebellious yet widely-creative mind and spirit.
Images Courtesy: Gaelle Khouri