Halloween has come and gone, which means—like it or not—gift-shopping season is officially upon us. And if a mad dash to the mall is the last thing you want to be doing on the eve of St. Nick’s big day, may we suggest pencilling Vancouver’s jam-packed schedule of holiday markets onto your calendar?
The fun kicks off with the Circle Craft Christmas Market, which will bring more than 300 artisans from across Canada to the Vancouver Convention Centre’s West building from Wednesday to Sunday (November 7 to 11). This year’s edition, which will follow the quaint theme of “farmhouse Christmas”, will feature everything from handmade ceramics and stained-glass art to gourmet foodstuffs and succulent-shaped candles.
Below, we spotlight a few of our favourite fashion-centric vendors to look for—two new, one returning—and what Canadian-produced pieces you can expect from each.
Yeonji Anj Kim grew up watching her artist mother make jewellery and had no intention of following in her footsteps. But offering further proof of prophecy that, despite our best efforts, we all eventually become our parents, that’s exactly what she ended up doing.
Unable to deny the inscrutable lure of metalsmithing—“there was something about it that excited me,” she tells the Straight by phone—Kim abandoned her plans to pursue a career in accounting after high school to major in jewellery and metal at the Alberta College of Art and Design. It turned out she had found her calling. “It’s not just something that adorns people—it becomes part of their history and part of themselves,” the Seoul-born and Calgary-raised artist explains, when asked what draws her to accessories. “And they get to hand it down to the next generations.”
Now based in Vancouver, the 32-year-old runs Thirteenth Studio, her two-year-old label of handcrafted pared-down jewellery. Preferring to use only sterling silver and gold—though a handful of pieces incorporate pretty gemstones like citrines, Ethiopian opals, and sapphires—Kim dreams up statement bling for the self-described minimalist: delicate chokers adorned with a single oversized disc-shaped pendant; shimmering shoulder-duster earrings; and thick “melt in your skin” rings that are shaped as though they’re partially liquefied, slowly dripping onto fingers. Many of the items feature textured surfaces, like they’ve been weathered from years of wear. “I don’t like the look of perfection,” notes Kim. “I find it more charming and interesting when it has a little bit of roughness to it.”
Other Thirteenth Studio creations are more whimsical: the Casa Azul hoops, for instance, are made up of hollow brass tubes that hold the stems of flowers so that the petals remain visible when the earrings are worn. Inspired by influential Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her love of blooms—La Casa Azul is the name of her childhood home turned museum—the jewellery essentially functions as a blank canvas for the ear, inviting wearers to customize them with fresh or faux lilacs, chrysanthemums, and more. “When I think of Frida Kahlo, I think of her headpiece, her garden,” says Kim. “She drew a lot of flowers in her work, so I wanted to do something with flowers and it kind of evolved into that.”
Find the budding designer’s full Thirteenth Studio range (from $50) at Circle Craft, including some new pieces that combine Kim’s signature organic lines with freshwater pearls.
Sustainability is a theme that’s only recently—and rightfully—come to light in the fashion world, but for Manitoba-based designer Andréanne Dandeneau, it’s always been part of her brand’s core identity. “Opening a business, I knew I was going to create consumption,” she tells the Straight in a phone interview. “So I had to figure out how to do it [in a way] that wasn’t going to hurt the next generation.”
Since its launch in 2005, Dandeneau’s Voilà Designs has been committed to environmentally minded practices. Ethically designed and manufactured in Winnipeg, the line of casual but work-appropriate womenswear—which includes items such as figure-hugging dresses, blazers, leggings, and wide-leg pants—uses natural, responsibly dyed, and Canadian-made fibres like cotton, bamboo, and linen. Voilà even produces a zero-waste collection, which features patchwork tank-tops, cardigans, and skirts crafted from fabric scraps. Each piece is designed with comfort and a women’s curves in mind—and are made to last.
“People come back after nine years and say, ‘Oh, I need a new pair [of leggings],’ ” notes Dandeneau, who was a contemporary dancer before enrolling in Montréal’s LaSalle College School of Fashion Design. “And, for a clothing company, that’s maybe not the best thing to hear because you can’t make money. But for me…that’s what I want: people to use my stuff and wear it out, so cost-for-wear becomes a penny.”
In addition to its quality, ecofriendly threads, Voilà is known for its integration of Indigenous handicraft techniques and patterns. Dandeneau is Métis and her artist father, David, produces the label’s heritage motifs: nature-inspired prints that borrow from Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork and Plains First Nations symbols like the birch tree and eagle feather, which are then silk-screened atop T-shirts, scarves, and bumwarmers. Other garments, like the high-neck Merlot blouse, use floral beadwork and embroidery, an art which the Métis people were once recognized for. “Sometimes, I describe it as definitely a Métis look and people are like ‘Well, what is Métis?’ ” explains Dandeneau. “It’s Aboriginal and Europe run together—and that’s exactly my style. You have this touch of Indigenous culture with French flair.”
The designer, who will have Voilà’s full range (from $14 for accessories; from $40 for clothing)—as well as an assortment of Cree-made jewellery—on hand at Circle Craft, adds that the Indigenous elements in her clothing help inspire pride in other First Nations folks. “I think that’s so cool to see them coming out and being proud of what they can create and being proud of their own heritage.”
A little defiance led jewellery designer Amanda Nogier to find and embrace her material of choice. The Saskatoon-based artist was studying industrial design at the University of Alberta in 2014 when one of her professors deemed concrete an inappropriate medium for a décor-production project because it was, apparently, impossible to manipulate into smaller forms. Nogier disagreed. “I was like ‘No, no, no, this is totally doable,’ ” she recalls for the Straight by phone. “And I came back to him with all the research.”
The instructor gave Nogier the greenlight to employ concrete in her practice, and four years later, she hasn’t looked back. The former graphic designer specializes in jewellery that uses the highly durable substance—a specially developed version of it, anyway, which is prepared in small batches—in places typically occupied by glittering beads or gemstones. Offered under her brand, Béton Brut—a French term meaning raw concrete—the modern, minimalist pieces take after everything from Art Deco to elementary geometry, though each is heavily influenced by Brutalist architecture. “[The architects of that movement] were the ones that popularized concrete as a viable building material,” notes Nogier. “They were the first ones to celebrate the aesthetic of concrete.”
The 32-year-old blends vibrant pigments into her concrete moulds, resulting in marbled slabs that are marked with swirling shades of blue, violet, and peach. Brass flecks are also incorporated into the concrete mixes, which complement the 3-D–printed brass hardware that Nogier designs and casts herself. From circular studs and dramatic drop earrings to hexagonal pendants and badass double-finger rings inspired by modernist-architecture figure Ernő Goldfinger—a person that Nogier describes as “oft misunderstood”—each piece of Béton Brut jewellery is decidedly simple in form and totally one-of-a-kind.
“I use a lot of geometric shapes because they work really well with concrete,” she says, “and they also happen to be really timeless and age well.”
At Circle Craft, Nogier will have her entire jewellery line on hand (from $35), which includes a handful of non-concrete items, and small décor objects like concrete vessels and candles (from $40). There will also be a selection of wall art, which the designer has recently begun experimenting with.
The Circle Craft Christmas Market takes place from Wednesday to Sunday (November 7 to 11) at the Vancouver Convention Centre’s West building (999 Canada Place). See event listing for details.