A LOVE AFFAIR WITH HARRY

by Astrid Joss

Whilst we’re currently all eyes on a certain someone called Harry, MINE’s Editor Astrid Joss turns her attention to another real gem of a man by the name of Harry…


Anyone that declares “People! Drama! Romance! Precious stones! Speculation! Excitement! What more could you want?” will turn my head, and I’m quite sure yours. Harry Winston was a man that not only adored jewels, he lived and breathed them. Without meaning to sound too much like a song by Sting, every move he made, every thought he had and every person he met was somehow, in a round about way, inspired by his love of gem stones. “Jewels” he once said, “are more than my love and my life; they are an insatiable obsession.”  Hmmmm. Roger that Harry! 

This was a man that lived in an era when Hollywood was in it’s heyday, giving birth to iconic film stars who really were film stars in the true sense, and defined the real meaning of glamour as we know it now. He dressed the great and the good in with his works of art, ensuring they were dripping in diamonds at any given chance. For it was here that he could see his passion for extraordinary stones come to life. 

Weather you admire these women or not, we all love to look back at the impeccable style of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and the Duchess of Windsor, taking inspiration from both their finesse, as well as Mr. Winton’s work and how they wore it. What must have it been like to live their life? Equally for Mr. Winston himself to both design for them and then see his work in such a enchanting light? I’ve lost track of myself wondering about it too many times to count but one thing is for sure, as the saying goes, we all want to ‘look like a million dollars’ such a they did. For in looking like it you will inevitably feel like it!

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Given the opportunity to view the new ‘Winston Cluster Colour’ collection last week (where emeralds, rubies and sapphires all sit magnificently with marquis and pear shaped diamonds) I was blown away. The Winston Cluster is still one of the houses most coveted motifs - a design Harry Winston himself came up with in 1940, inspired by a Christmas holly wreath hanging on his own front door. Noting the way the leaves stood majestically apart from their branches, glistening in the snow, it was this famous moment that he made a historic change in the world of fine jewellery design - gemstones not the metal should dictate the design of the jewels. A free flowing, free standing design technique was born. 

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Now back to little old me, perched on high on goodness knows what floor within the Bond Street townhouse, trying on lots of precious stones and feeling rather fanciful about it. Then all of a sudden something rather magical happened. ’Shall I paint your portrait?’ Susannah Garrod asked as she passed me by in the room. The rest is history but I have something momentous as a keepsake - a beautiful picture of myself by my favourite illustrator, wearing jewels by the only Harry I have eyes  for and…..you guessed it, feeling like a billion dollars! The best bit was showing it to my five year old son - ‘Beautiful Mummy - but it doesn’t really look like you.’ Of course I was quick to correct him “Well it does actually…it’s how I want to look.” And that is THAT!