When did you start designing?I graduated in 2004 with a BA in fashion design from Ryerson. I started designing jewelry in 2009 after a life-changing trip to India. My adoration of unique textiles and secret obsession for jewelry meant more to me than just a shopping experience. Having been surrounded by colorful textiles and intricate artwork my entire life, as a result of growing up in an Afro-Caribbean household, I realized this trip to India sparked an interest that had remained dormant for a long time.
Where do you draw inspiration for your pieces?I am inspired by my travels, past and present. I let the materials I find dictate the direction. Because I specialize in dismantling hand dyed scarves and incorporating them into my pieces, they are a great source of color reference and texture. The colors are the key - they are the starting point of everything I create. This season I drew inspiration from a scarf that looked like the colors of the plants you might find when looking into space through a microscope. I sourced some titanium-coated crystals, which were very “galactic”, and added them to a lot of the pieces. The light hits them from different directions and creates this beautiful collision of colors! This called this collection “Galactic Pixie”.
How long does it take you to put together a piece - from original conception to the final product?It could take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours - every piece is different. I do a lot of testing, because I never know exactly what the piece will look like until I have started knotting all the materials together. It is always a pleasant surprise to see how the different materials play off of each other.
What sort of materials do you use and where do you source them?I combine hand dyed silks, ribbons, crystals and chains. I source from all over - from markets in India to vintage boutiques and gem shows. The silk scarves used in my pieces are hand dyed in different cities and villages from all over the world; Bali, Thailand and Chennai are just a few.
What is your current favourite piece in your collection and why?My current favorite piece is I’M Brianna. It is just so rich in color that it lifts my spirits every time I put it on! This piece takes a long time to complete and is a serious showstopper.
Come visit Monique and see her amazing I’MONIQ designs in person at the following events!1) I’MONIQ Accessories will be premiering at the Henri Bendel trunk show, September 13th-16th. – 712 5th Avenue (at 56th Street), New York City. Chosen amongst hundreds at their semi-annual Open See®, I’MONIQ emerged as one of the few to return to showcase their collection.
2) Come shop I’MONIQ on September 27 and 28 at Miracle Thieves - 249 Crawford Street, Toronto. Meet the designer while you shop and have a cocktail!
3) Come shop I’MONIQ at the Art of Fashion Designer Boutique at Hazelton Lanes - Nuit Blanche Oval Square, Toronto. Starts at 6pm! Receive a 20% off voucher for your next online I’MONIQ purchase!
Jasmin is a freelance writer currently based in Kingston, ON.