The Jewellery Designer Everyone in Fashion is Talking About

Pin It
Gala-Colivet Dennison S/S17Photography Esther Theaker

Gala Colivet-Dennison has caught the eye of some of the industry's most revered tastemakers. We talk to her about Instagram, craft and performance art

You might be surprised, on seeing her work, to learn that Gala Colivet-Dennison hasn’t been making jewellery for very long. But the recognition she has received since she released her debut lookbook (it was made in collaboration with set designer Amy Stickland, photographer Esther Theaker and stylist Isabelle Sayer) earlier this year is directly proportional to her talent for silversmithing. “It’s moved a little bit too quickly!” she says over the phone from her Walthamstow studio. “It’s only been in the last six months that I’ve started to put my work out there – it has just kind of spiralled.” 

As an emerging designer who has yet to venture into the world of digital marketing and e-commerce, Colivet-Dennison has gained recognition in a relatively short space of time. Much of the interest she has received has been garnered through Instagram alone; the social media platform is a simple way in which to share her pieces and the inspiration behind them. “I hold back from sharing too much on there, though,” she says. “I use it as a selective platform to show finished work, pieces in progress, and a cross section of references. It’s an inituitive process.”

Colivet-Dennison comes from London and grew up in France, and didn’t start out with a fashion career in mind. She studied Sculpture at art school, with a focus on large-scale metalwork, and discovered her love of making jewellery almost by chance. “I was working with quite industrial large scale pieces, involving welding, and I basically couldn’t afford to store pieces anymore because they were so big. So as a hobby I took up evening classes at Morley College in Waterloo in jewellery,” she explains.

This background has served Colivet-Dennison well, allowing her to refine her processes and references through the lens of art history. A glimpse of her methodology can be seen on her Instagram account. “I use it as a moodboard; I guess, coming from a sculptural background, I look to artists such as Henry Moore and Louise Bourgeois. But also I was very inspired by the Viennese Actionists when I was younger, and a lot of performance artists, such as Carolee Schneemann. I see jewellery being an extension of the body in a sculptural way.” Alongside archival imagery we are treated to snapshots the jeweller has taken herself: a dog’s paw playfully sporting one of her rings; the back of a woman’s head wearing pair of chunky gold hoops; three Hasidic Jewish boys walking the streets of Stoke Newington. It all gives a small insight into her creative brain.

Colivet-Dennison also cites the work of Alexander McQueen as an influence, and despite the broad selection of Insta-reference, her jewellery remains reminiscent of the Modernists, who blurred the peripheries of art and design with traditional craft-based techniques. “I always work with silver. I’ve also found inspiration in roughly cut stones – carnelian, quartz and agate as well. I use them as a focal point to work around them, so it is a balance between organic and man-made materials. And then I just see what happens, really. I work as I go along, which can be a bit hit and miss at times.” 

The vacillating nature of craft dictates Colivet-Dennison’s expansion as a business, too. She endeavours to retain creative control over her work, talking with buyers who appreciate a slower production method. “I would be interested in being stocked in bigger places; but I guess it all depends on how true I can stay to myself and what I retain if I do that,” she says. “I want to make one-off pieces and design and make everything myself. That’s how I enjoy working – so I would not want to make a mainstream body of work that can be repeated. I would like to keep my pieces slightly exclusive in that way.” 

Whether she will open up an online store, too remains to be seen, but the jewellery designer has plans for the future nonetheless, taking up another course at Central Saint Martins this October to expand techniques to be put to use in her next collection. “I feel like this next collection will even be a surprise to me! But I know where it’s going.” A refreshing antithesis to fast fashion and the industry’s breakneck speed, we predict that Gala Colivet-Dennison won’t be going anywhere in a hurry.