Never one to shy away from making a statement, Lebanese-born jewellery designer Anne Gedeon has always had an irrepressible creative streak. Starting out in advertising followed by a 7-year stint in events management, her innately creative soul rebelled whenever she was faced with advertising or design briefs. Deciding that it was time to do away with the fetters of the dreaded ‘brief’, Anne finally broke into her own creative stride with her own jewellery label, GRIN by Anne Gedeon.
With its peppy, playful vibe and boldfaced designs, GRIN is a product of Anne’s constant experimentation with myriad forms and a spectrum of interesting materials. Her signature jewellery comes in many incarnations including hard-hitting precious metal bling and silicone pieces intermixed with freshwater pearls, semi-precious stones, Swarovski elements and more unconventional additions like fabric, plastic and felt. And it seems the world is taking well to her audacious creations, with her designs being stocked in a growing stable of respectable boutiques around the world, including fashion and lifestyle haven, L’Usine in Saigon and the esteemed Etoile ‘La boutique’ in Dubai.
Lest you think GRIN, is all fun, laughter and starbursts of sunshine, be prepared for its more um, grim side. A designer in touch with her moral essence, Anne Gedeon hopes to shed light on the atrocities of the war in the Middle East with her new jewellery collection titled “I Shot A Flower”. An elegy to the children that have fallen on Middle Eastern soil, each piece in the collection is a metaphor for the sorrow, bloodshed and futility of war. A portion of the proceeds go towards the Palestinian Children’s Fund, in helping the children of the Middle East rebuild their war-shattered lives.
STARTING AN INDEPENDENT ACCESSORIES LABEL
I wanted a vocation where I would be my own boss, where I would have the liberty to create and design without a ‘brief’ and where I could decide my own hours. Coming from an advertising background, we always had to follow a brief and that’s what used to annoy me. In Heineken, I was more interested in creating cool, never-before-seen bar branding than how many hectolitres we were selling in the region! When I delved into events, I was ‘designing’ creative concepts & bringing them to life, something I found very rewarding. I found that creative outlet in jewellery making, a passionate hobby that I turned into a business.
PHILOSOPHY FOR ACCESSORISING
One item of flash is all that is required to make an outfit, and of course it has to be statement-worthy!
THE ‘GRIN’ PERSONA
The woman I create for is definitely an adventurous woman who knows what she wants. She’s one who is bold in her opinions, fearless in her sense of dress, in tune with the world around her and at peace with herself.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
For me, it’s an enjoyable journey that serves as a catharsis of sorts. In long periods, the process turns into a deeper form of meditation. In shorter periods, it mimics a lighting of a firework…calm at first then when sparked, an explosion of ideas illuminate my mind. I would describe it as a series of dangling ‘inspiration threads’ and whichever ‘thread’ is most exhilarating to me is the one I choose to seize.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
My dreams. My travels. My children.
THE NEW COLLECTION: “I SHOT A FLOWER”
Last summer, what I saw on the news was wicked. Very wicked. And I still see it on the news. All these innocent civilians and children that are paying the price for our power-struggles…our senseless ego-wars… The Middle East has become a graveyard, and we still haven’t learnt. I wanted to help. I felt compelled to help those children who had survived. I am a parent of two and I can’t fathom the emptiness and sorrow these kids must feel. Some of them are left without homes, some without parents. It’s too much to bear. That is how ‘I SHOT A FLOWER’ was born.
This collection is dedicated to all the innocent children that have lost their lives on Middle Eastern soil. A red flower marks each piece and each flower represents an innocent child. Each eagle represents prey. Each bullet represents the quest for power and each red bead represents a drop of blood. Part of the proceeds from this collection will go to those children who have survived without homes or parents, to help them build a future. The charity of choice is the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
SUPPORTING A WORTHY CAUSE
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is a non-political, non-profit organiSation dedicated to healing the wounds of war, occupation and poverty for children in the Middle East, regardless of their nationality, religion, race or gender. They also organiSe volunteer missions, medical care and sponsor humanitarian projects in Palestine and Lebanon.
THE MEANING BEHIND EACH PIECE
You will find that the pieces bear powerful messages and their names are just as bold, but that is the point. Raising awareness is a duty and can only be achieved if the subject evokes emotion.
The ‘PREY’ necklace features a large eagle pendant hung on an endless row of bullets. With its razor-sharp eyesight and hooked talons, the eagle is a merciless bird of prey with precise aim for a precise target, emblematic of the systematic way innocents in Middle East are being targeted with bombs and bullets.
‘HAND CUFFS’ are cuff bracelets designed to fit snugly around the wrist. Each of the three cuffs are designed with one or two bullets and represent a civilian’s stance of being ‘trapped’ in the face of the political power struggles.
The ‘BLOODTYPE’ necklace is composed of a row of bullets attached to a row of red glass beads. The handwork in this piece is beautiful & the beads are strategically designed to fall face down; to only flip over when you move. It’s a still and gripping piece, with a brooch to match. Brooches have been included in this collection to mimic the badges or medals of war hung so proudly on crisp starched army suits.
‘HOMELAND’ is the feature piece in the collection. It’s a maximalist 2-tier necklace made with freshwater pearls and old Lebanese piastres (coins) that were used in the 70s. It is an ode to our lands. An antique silver Palestinian version exists too, made using Palestinian coins.
There are other pieces in the same theme… ‘Bubble’ because we live in a bubble whilst all this is happening around us. A symbol of the hope in a time of moral despair, ‘Threads of Hope’ bracelets are made of thin rope and tied around the wrist, meant to be worn all the time until they wither away and fall off.
I found myself faced with the usual challenges that plague emerging designers. Namely, the difficulty in maximising exposure on small budgets, finding the right manufacturer and having to run a one-woman show.
My next goal is to infiltrate Asia. We started stocking in Saigon this year, and I’m casting my eyes towards Japan and Indonesia next.