On Saturday, we attended an event with Raffi Jewelers to celebrate the release of the new issue of Modalina Magazine. This issue was very special for us as not only did we style a stunning editorial, but we also wrote an amazing article on styling with heirlooms.
Nostalgia can be a powerful force for good. The world changes so quickly and so dramatically, year over year, it’s natural for us to wonder how we got here and to look for anchors to the past. In the world of fashion, this is particularly prominent as designers peruse their own previous collections or look to other designer’s creations to inspire the newest lines. But like many practices in the fashion industry, this idea of constantly creating new is being pushed aside by a hot topic that’s always in fashion: sustainability.
This is where the idea of nostalgia comes into play. Our mothers’, grandmothers’, and great grandmothers’, thoughts about fashion, their care and mending practices, and the quality of pieces they coveted play no part in the world of fast fashion today. If you looked at your closet, how many of your pieces would last, how many would transcend time and be something that your daughter or granddaughter might desire?
In our current consumer practices, we must now look back to the women who made us who we are, adopt more of their values and create our own future heirlooms. There’s something so special about wearing something that might have had a previous life. One of my favourite quotes is from designer Marc Jacobs: “Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.”
A huge part of my process as a stylist is helping my clients find intention in their wardrobe and an emotional connection to each piece. Imagine creating a look in the morning that reflects the women in your life and the women who made you who you are—what a powerful way to start your day! Of course, the reason heirlooms are so precious is that they have more than just monetary value. They are exclusive to you and to your story, made rich by their connection to someone in your life and to a different time.
Whenever clients don’t have any passed-down items, I guide them to create future heirlooms with very intentional purchases that will eventually create this connection. One of my favourite choices is a piece of jewellery—the perfect ring, cuff, necklace or earring made in high-quality gold or gems will last forever while also keeping its monetary value. Another benefit is that jewellery tends to be one-size-fits-all—just picture a classic diamond tennis bracelet—so it can easily be passed down.
My first heirloom came from my Grandma Laura. She was the epitome of classic style and effortless grace—always dressed in a matching suit, never caught without lipstick, always wearing her gold coin jewellery. When she passed away, I was given her gold coin ring and I now wear it everyday. Just as it was with my Grandma Laura, this one piece has played a major part in my attempt to create effortless style. For me, this heirloom piece will always remind me of where I acquired my love for fashion.
A classic, well-tailored blazer is another must-have piece—both for me and in all my clients’ wardrobes. It pairs well with so many looks and never goes out of style, all while giving women a beautiful silhouette. A blazer that is well-constructed is also a more sustainable choice—and one that can easily be passed down a generation or two or three.
In the summer of 2011, I was studying fashion styling at the Istituto Marangoni in London, England, when I received a call from my mother. “Julianne, I got it,” she said breathlessly. “It’s sold out everywhere, but you have one—you and Princess Kate have one!” She found me the very first heirloom piece: the Smythe navy blue Duchess blazer that Kate Middleton wore ahead of her royal visit to Canada.
Looking at this blazer today reminds me of how heirlooms come to be, the value in owning them and in cherishing them. They exist on another level, above monetary value and beyond the trends of the day—and they have a story to tell that will live on for generations.
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