London Fashion Week is considered one of the “big four” fashion events in the world. Along with weeks in Paris, Milan and New York City, it’s a chance for fashionistas of every stripe to strut their stuff and for top designers to have their creations seen by an international audience.
Among the creators this year will be Shelley MacDonald. The Yukoner is one of only a handful of jewellery designers who have been asked to put on a show.
“I still don’t know what it will be like. Obviously I’ve been Googling it. Then I’d get overwhelmed and stop,” MacDonald said with a laugh.
“This is to an international audience. The regular joe knows London Fashion Week.”
Getting ready for an event like this comes with a laundry list of questions, not the least of which is, when the international fashion elite come calling, what does one wear?
Her Lululemon pants, MacDonald learned, are unlikely to cut it.
“I work from home. I don’t spend money on expensive clothes because I’m going to ruin them in my studio.”
So MacDonald is heading to Vancouver four days before taking off for London. She’s hired a personal shopper to help her figure out her wardrobe.
While in Vancouver she’ll also be meeting with the public relations representatives she’s hired to prepare for questions on the London red carpets. A few TV interviews in Vancouver have already been scheduled.
Personal shoppers and PR reps are the latest evidence of how MacDonald’s career has grown in the last six months.
When William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the territory last fall, Kate donned a pair of MacDonald’s modern ulu earrings.
Since then, orders for the handmade creations have flooded in. MacDonald estimates she’s made 1,400 pairs.
She’ll be making 120 more to go into gift bags at fashion week.
When MacDonald got the call in November from an agency asking designers to take part in fashion week, it would have been easy to assume the company was aware of her because of the royal attention.
But MacDonald said she was told the agency had its eye on her prior to the duchess’s visit.
“I had thought it was maybe because of the whole Kate exposure, but it actually wasn’t. So I was actually quite happy about that.”
Instead the agency was most interested in the pieces she makes out of fur, MacDonald said.
Her new Boreal Collection features neck pieces, bracelets, earrings and rings, many of which include recycled fur.
She’ll have six models walking the runway Feb. 18 at London’s Devonshire Square. The final decision about which of her pieces they’ll be wearing hasn’t been made yet.
MacDonald has been working on adding fur to her work for the last few years, but the idea of coming up with a cohesive collection is still relatively new to her.
“Normally, designers, they will showcase a collection two times a year, in the spring and winter,” she said.
“But for me, I don’t really do that, I just kind of make whatever comes to mind and whatever I’m inspired by. I make a bunch of stuff and sell it.”
The collection she’ll be showing in London also includes pieces made with muskox horn.
MacDonald takes the horn and grinds it to make a cabochon stone, an oval-shaped stone with a curved top and a flat bottom that can be easily placed in a silver setting.
Ahead of London, MacDonald is preparing for questions from reporters about her choice to use fur.
She said she mostly recycles fur used by local First Nations.
“I feel really good about that because they’re making traditional clothing and traditional footwear and moccasins and then whatever they’re going to throw out, that’s what I use for jewellery. I only use really tiny pieces.”
As she preps for London, online orders for the ulu earrings keep coming in. MacDonald estimates she got 80 orders in three days over Christmas.
She’ll be temporarily shutting down her online shop while she’s in London.
The shop will remain closed for a few weeks afterwards. MacDonald and her fiancé are going on a vacation.
Contact Ashley Joannou at firstname.lastname@example.org