David Beckham already has stopped by to put his stamp of approval on the first boutique for Santa Monica-based jewelry line Hoorsenbuhs in SoHo, Manhattan.
The Broome Street gallery likely will enjoy a healthy dose of celebrity attention — after all, this is the jewelry brand favored by everyone from Pharrell to Rihanna to Jay Z to Jennifer Lopez. The 3,000-square-foot space itself is likewise noteworthy: Upstairs, jewelry vitrines are built into rough-hewn walls of reclaimed wood studded with Hoorsenbuhs bolts crafted of sterling silver and then dipped in gold. Along the back wall, the oversized door of a gilded bank vault is forever propped open, allowing visitors a peek inside the vault with its walls of golden drawers — “They hold secrets,” says brand founder and creative director Robert Keith. (For VIP visits, scrims inside the vault are lowered to ensure privacy.) Links that take their cue from anchor chains, a signature design theme of the collection, are celebrated with two oversized sculptures given prominent placement in the front window; they were crafted at Damien Hirst’s foundry outside London, says Keith.
Downstairs, an open, artwork-filled space featuring pieces by Hirst and others reinforces the idea that the boutique was conceived to extend beyond retail. “I had been sketching ideas of a public-space atmosphere, rather than a private atelier,” says Keith. Kether Parker, Keith’s business partner and brand ambassador, notes that timing also played a role. “Five years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” he says.
The profile of Hoorsenbuhs, which Keith founded in 2005, has risen considerably over the past five years, most notably when collaborating with Jay Z on a 2013 holiday collection for Barneys (which since has started carrying the line full time) and a collaboration of limited-edition pieces with Hirst, dubbed Cathedral, which launched in 2014. “We befriended Damien a couple of years back, and we’ve since become very close,” explains Parker, adding that Keith and Hirst are currently at work on a watch design. “We’ll always be doing something together.”
Crafted in 18-karat white, yellow or rose gold and often embellished with diamonds, Hoorsenbuhs pieces feel tactile and substantial. Clients may choose from a wide range of Keith’s designs, but customizing is also common practice.
“When a client comes into the space, we really engage them and encourage them to get involved in the creation of their jewelry,” notes Parker. “Among a row of white diamonds, maybe they want one ruby off to the side? Sure, we can do that. We’ve also done a great job of curating the brand and keeping it special. We haven’t diluted it out to the world.”
Parker is married to stylist Mariel Haenn, whose work with fellow stylist Rob Zangardi includes dressing such A-list clients as Lopez, Charlize Theron and Gwen Stefani. “I was a fan of the jewelry brand even before I knew who [Keith and Parker] were,” says Haenn (she met Parker after being set up on a blind date with him; they married in September of last year). “I used to stand in Barneys and drool over every piece and want one of everything; now I’m married to the jewelry.”
A ready-to-wear and accessories collection, ranging from chic T-shirts and jackets to leather duffel bags and a cashmere throw patterned in the brand’s signature links, also is exclusive to the New York store and is wholly made in L.A.
“Los Angeles is our home — act globally, think locally,” says Keith. When asked what’s next, the designer breathes a bit of a relieved sigh. “I’ll think about that when I’m feeling a bit more centered and grounded,” says Keith. “I’ve been a bit of a FaceTime dad for almost six months. I need to step away from this for a minute because it’s been so big — but from there, the inspiration will come.”