In journalism you are not supposed to write about your friends, but for one, this is Toronto. And for two, this is Toronto fashion, a world smaller than your corner store. If I didn’t write about Maryam Keyhani, I wouldn’t even deserve to have this job, or any job, because she is truly a luminary among talents here. Nobody is asking you to believe me, though. See for yourself the way she sketches and works and shapes and ships her work: individually, legit handmade pieces that make “statement necklaces” look like they aren’t saying shit.
1. On the day of our visit, Keyhani and her crew of assistants and interns were wrapping up the S/S ’12 collection. The studio is a light-filled, softly humming place, and they had just ordered lunch. Pizza, we would like to note, is an essential part of the creative process.
2. Keyhani sources her fabrics in New York. For this collection, many of the necklaces feature two or three or more pieces of sculpted, mille-feuille chiffon in glowing colour; think Georgia O’Keefe. Keyhani says she wanted to find new ways to manipulate fabric to match her imagination.
3. The curvilinear metal pieces are done custom by a metalworker in Leslieville. His other job is sword-making. Seriously.
4. Keyhani’s jewellery sprang from a series of paintings she was making, all of mysterious women, after graduating from OCAD’s fine art program. She still begins each design with a frameworthy sketch.
5. Matroyshka dolls line up next to a favourite piece from Keyhani’s F/W ’11 assortment.
6. The designer herself.
7. Each season, Keyhani orders new, custom necklace displays. These are plastic tuxedos, and yet somehow not tacky at all. Behind them you can see a few of her impressive press clippings.
8. We want assistant Shannon’s wishbone tattoo, then her sewing acumen.
9. The designer and her real moodboard. For her fake moodboard, go to her Tumblr of that name. I said go!
10. The necklaces go out (this one, you can see, to Holt Renfrew) in silk bags the colour of a sunset at the end of the world. Each one comes with a card explaining that the piece, which has its own name, like Angelique, is made by actual human hands. “It takes… quite some time,” Keyhani says.
11. Keyhani has faithfully kept the flea-market materials from her debut line, along with bits of rare prettiness, like hot hot pink gloves from the House of Dior.
12. Schedule. See anyone, like, incredibly famous there?
13. A sculpture-heft display piece made for a Paris showroom event last year.