Four years after leaving her job as jewelry designer at Erickson Beamon, where she worked on high-profile projects alongside Matthew Williamson, Rifat Ozbek, Julien Macdonald, Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen, South African-born Kirsten Goss...
JOHANNESBURG — Four years after leaving her job as jewelry designer at Erickson Beamon, where she worked on high-profile projects alongside Matthew Williamson, Rifat Ozbek, Julien Macdonald, Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen, South African-born Kirsten Goss faces a future that has never been brighter.
In May she unveiled a new look for her two-year-old boutique in London, a stone&'s throw from Kensington Palace. Now, with a retail area of 250 square feet, the Kirsten Goss boutique has been transformed into a gallery that looks like an oversize jewelry box, with white walls and light aquamarine-tinged wooden floors.
"Basically, with the new shop, we&'ve gone gallery style, with an ever-changing selection of pieces on exhibition," explained Goss. "We&'ve pulled out of wholesale completely, and expanded our range to include our exclusive pieces — all handmade, bold and beautiful precious and semiprecious jewelry with a bespoke element — as well as our new collections for men and children."
Goss is also introducing a Precious Collection, which she said features diamonds and precious stones set in platinum. "I use them in a less obvious way," she said, "as diamond beads, for instance."
Goss said she resisted doing diamonds for some time, preferring to concentrate on other precious and semiprecious stones, which she sources mainly from big jewelry fairs in Hong Kong. "I am on a mission to break people&'s concentration from this absolute desire to covet diamonds all the time and make them aware that there are other stones," she half-joked.
She cited amazonite, citrine, chrysoprase, Zimbabwean kyanite, unusual Australian opals and white agate as among her favorite stones. She loves juxtaposing them in unusual combinations and textures, adding an element of surprise, such as a bright, oversize turquoise sphere with smoky topaz chunks. "It gives the jewelry a bit of an unexpected edge, I like to think."
Sensual and sophisticated has become her signature look, a departure from the rich yet multilayered neo-Edwardian vibe she started out with in 2003, prompting London&'s Sunday Times to christen her "The next big thing." Liberty of London came calling soon after, asking Goss to design a collection for the Spirit of Liberty exhibition. Earlier this year, she was commissioned to design special gifts for the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Oscars.American expatriates in London are among her loyal clients, not to mention celebrities Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosamund Pike, Helena Bonham Carter and Jane Krakowski, plus a host of chic English aristocrats. Goss believes a presence in the U.S. is the next logical step, and is looking for an American agent.
Goss has done trunk shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and has been pleased with the results. She recalled her first trunk show in California&'s Marin County, at the home of a friend who lived next door to Sean Penn. "It was crazy, all these fabulous women coming in to buy. It was like a scene out of ‘Desperate Housewives&'! I left the States a few days later with my jacket stuffed with dollars, like a drug dealer, because I hadn&'t opened banking facilities in the U.S. yet."
Goss hosts regular trunk shows here and in Cape Town, South Africa. She lives with her husband and daughter in Durban, where she has a small showroom. She retains two workshops, one in Durban "for all the labor-intensive metalwork," and another in Chiswick, London, where all the pieces are handmade and hand-finished. Goss is in London every two weeks to oversee operations.
She believes full control of all aspects of the business has been key to her success; sales have quadrupled in three years. "When I started out, it was just me," she mused. "Now, having a staff of 11 allows me to concentrate on the creative process — sourcing the most amazing stones cut in the most unusual way and using them in designs that are just as individual, and of exceptional quality. I am hugely into texture and form."
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast