Eternal nomad Dee de Lara splits her time as a designer between Toronto and New York City, working hard to create her own jewelry as a combination of repurposed items and surrealist inspired pieces - and does it flawlessly.
“Every piece I work with has a story , whether it features hardware with an intended use for plumbing or something, a crystal from a chandelier that was in someone's home or a vintage repurposed or deadstock finding or chain.” shares Dee. “If these pieces could talk, they could tell you about their previous lives and who they used to be. Also, each piece is inspired by someone in my life or was commissioned specifically and then added to the collection, like the Husna Necklace which was inspired by the namesake's love of Indian Mughal jewelry. I also can't help but continue to use my background in market research/consumer insights and interest in cultural anthropology to try to infuse and bring to life different stories. The intention of my jewelry is to take things and look at them in a different way to create conversation: whether it is being asked questions about a component of the piece of jewelry or telling the origin and inspiration story of that particular item.”
"The intention of my jewelry is to take things and look at them in a different way to create conversation"
Origins are what it’s all about with Dee for her jewelry collection. Initially born in Manila, Philippians, Dee moved to Staten Island, New York when she was a baby. After that she bounced back and forth between Canada and The U.S. (going to high school in Victoria B.C., studying Art History at U of T and then finally starting a marketing career enabling her to travel worldwide).
Bouncing between Toronto and New York one can’t help but compare the two. “There really is no place in the world like New York: the energy, the history, the mythology and the stories. It is really easy to get caught up in the excitement, but also get distracted and overwhelmed in a place that is constantly moving and changing. And we live in a post-geographical world where you can interact with and connect meaningfully with people halfway across the world thanks to the Internet. This also means that regionality can also have less of an impact on your work because you can instantly see Instagrams of what people are wearing, eating and doing at the click of a button. It can provide a window into the collective activity of a region, yet also weirdly feel like we're doing the same things at the same time, but in different places. So it is important to find a community wherever you are. I think there's a great sense of community in both New York and Toronto - a feeling that we're all part of the hustle and in this together.”
With her constant traveling it’s easy to get over whelmed but Dee says its music that helps keep her grounded. “Every designer needs a kickass playlists to inspire, focus, drive and distract you. Music can really change and create a mood, and because I'm constantly on the move, it helps keep me grounded. I can always count on the mixes from Girls Girls Girls from Paris to get me dancing and thinking. I love OVO's roster of artists (yay, Toronto!), and am particularly loving all of OVO Sound Radio especially the latest from Majid Jordan.”
Inspired by the 90s, Dee is excited to see how the new trend get incorporated into design work. “I'm excited for the resurgence and reworking of an overall '90s visual influence. My style icons growing up were a mixture of Aaliyah, Cher from Clueless, Emotions-era Mariah Carey, What's the 411? Mary J Blige and Lauryn Hill. Oversized, statement jewelry (chokers! chunky chains! earrings!), layering short over long pieces like Cher, and yes, even brown lipstick. I'm particularly excited to throw wide leg jeans back into the mix, which were definitely a staple of mine in the '90s. I think they will add a nice softness, flow and contrast to the typically harder lines, monochrome minimalism and menswear-inspired stuff that I live in.”
Written by: Deborah Lopez-Delgado, Ryerson University Fashion Communications student.