Mourning or memorial jewellery has been worn for centuries, especially during the Victorian era where funerals and the events attached to burying, immortalizing, and remembering the dead was of much importance. Common symbols used in mourning jewellery included forget-me-nots, flowers, hair of a loved one, hearts, crosses, ivy leaves, and more macabre symbols such as skulls, coffins and gravestones. I refer to these, and expound upon them glamorizing death to the level of Haute Couture Catwalk. I refer as well to other old or ethnic customs as the Andaman ( it is a little community in Bengal where the widow takes the skull of their husband after the burial to wear it as a necklace), urban legends as the Black Widow who kill her husbands for their money and historical events as crimes, serial killers, and suicides… My mourning jewellery illustrates these different forms of death. Each piece tells a story about the deceased and their widow. The widow of the deceased can wear the jewellery in his memory, or in memory of the manner in which he died.
But mourning is not just about dead people, it is also about dead relationships and decaying marriages. Today, 42% of the marriages finish by divorce in UK and 38% in France. My divorce jewellery refers to old and contemporary wedding customs to illustrate this sort of mourning. As a French, most of these customs come from France as the Bride Globe which it is a present to the bride to put her bouquet and her crown after the wedding. All the decoration inside symbolize the union and give luck to the marriage. I use union and marriage symbols and subvert them to show the inevitability of the breakup, but also show that from these ashes may raise a new life.
The materials used are mainly leather, sequins, foam, human hair and silver. I am interested in the symbolic and mythical function associated with the materials I use. Through the mixture of these materials combined with the celebrities or models that will wear them, I aim to create a sort of pop voodoo, or decadent curse. And by wearing this jewelry we can morn the death of the celebrity icons we love as they pass on in the coming years. In Victorian times, death provided an opportunity for people to display their anguish through various plumage and adornments. My intention is to come back to this spirit, to celebrate death and decay for the power that it holds over life. Imposing and visually heavy, my jewellery symbolize the weight of death and as a Memento Mori, reminding us that we all must die.
Gisele Ganne, Jewellery Designer
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