Homegrown talent FTW: this Saturday, Canada’s fashion elite will celebrate the industry’s best talents—established and emerging—at the second annual Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards in Toronto. FLARE will be there (again!), and in the lead-up to the big night, we’re spotlighting some of the most exciting nominees.
Today we speak with Montreal-born jewellery designer Jon De Porter, nominated for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Accessories. De Porter planned to be a fashion designer and trained at LaSalle College in Montreal, but a visit to the Beijing pearl market inspired him to go in a different direction. Now he designs jewellery for Canadian and international designers, and his bridal collection is available at Kleinfeld at Hudson’s Bay. (BTW: he donates 25 percent of the profits from his Canadian pieces to charity!)
In five words or less, how would you describe the woman who wears your brand?
The Jon De Porter woman is confident, adventurous, optimistic, passionate and sincere.
Tell us about the first time you felt awestruck by fashion.
I must have been less than 10 years old when I came across a book on Christian Dior. I was completely fascinated by the “New Look” decadence and opulence in a devastated, post-war Europe. In a stroke of genius (and with kilometres of fabric), Dior resuscitated fashion and gave the world a well-needed dose of glamour.
It can be difficult for Canadian designers to resist the urge to set up shop in other countries. Why did you decide to establish your brand at home?
I can’t think of anything wrong with Canada. The market is what it is, and I think it’s up to me to design according to what women enjoy wearing and at a price they are comfortable paying. Pearls come in every shape size and colour one can imagine. There is something in my line for everybody. I feel extremely lucky to have earned the trust and loyalty of my clients. In return, I want to delight them by designing the best pieces of jewellery possible.
Can you share one major source of inspiration for you?
Travelling! Admiring the way the September sunset changes the hues of the Tuscan crops while sipping a local Sangiovese. Hearing the call to prayer through thick stone walls while luxuriating in a hamam in Istanbul. The bright colours and the state of decay of the city of Old Havana… I can’t take it all home in my suitcase, so I relive it through my jewellery.
It’s 2025: what does your brand look like? What do you hope to accomplish by then?
I would like to open lifestyle concept stores in Canada and in the U.S. There is much more to pearls than the eye can see. Pearl derivatives can be used in tabletop products, cosmetics, furniture and beyond. The CAFA nomination put me in the spotlight recently, and I gave my first televised interview; I loved the experience and I was surprised to be at ease in front of the camera. I hope to have more opportunities to communicate my love of design to a broader international audience.
The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards take place Saturday, Jan. 31. Visit Flare.com throughout the week for more Q&As with the nominees!