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Raw Eco JEwEllERy
Story by lori-lee emshey
PhotograPhy by ArAsh moAllemi
Styled by Jessie gu
nside the gritty and industrial Evergreen
Brick Works near Toronto's Don Valley,
Toronto photographer Arash Moallemi is
capturing one of his signature moments.
Amongst the graffiti, rust, rivets and
dust, our model glides in front of the
lens. Moallemi, one of the city's foremost
photographers with over twenty years of
industry experience is a favourite of ACF, also
shooting actress Rachel Luttrell (TV's Stargate
Atlantis) for the cover of Vol V amongst an
impressive list of his accomplishments in the
industry. But the keystone element of the shoot
was the layered upcycled necklaces and the
urban boho bracelets, by jewellery-maker
Devaki MacDonald grew up on Toronto
Island and started her brand RAW Eco
Jewellery after she left Canada in her twenties
for Argentina to travel through the America's.
She funded her wanderings by selling her
handmade jewellery designed using raw
materials "such as seeds, stones, shells, bones or
teeth," she found in each country she visited.
MacDonald learned some jewellery-making
from her mother, but is largely self-taught.
During her travels local artisans helped inspire
and develop her technique. Now, back in
Canada she continues to design and create for
"Canadians really have a true appreciation
for handcrafted products and I'm so flattered
that the public has received my work so well,"
After returning home, MacDonald's designs
evolved and she began incorporating upcycled
antique watches and timepieces. Upcycling
is the process of repurposing materials such
as antiques, metals and clothing to make
something new. The process creates products
of better value from materials that would
otherwise go to waste.
The final pieces look like they elegantly
fall together, but the entire practice takes a full
year. MacDonald collects her source material in
the fall and spends five to six months planning
the pieces in that year's one-of-a-kind line
In the spring she starts putting everything
together and the jewellery begins to take
shape. By summer the pieces are ready for
market and MacDonald hits the road, selling
pieces at craft shows and music festivals.
"It is a beautifully time consuming and
painstaking process," said MacDonald. "In the
end each piece is worth it."
During her creative process MacDonald
said she tries to strike a balance between
creating the outrageous and runaway
styles the raw materials inspire and items
that appeal to the general public. Christian
Lacroix might be able to get away with
exuberant headdresses and bib necklaces, but
MacDonald isn't there – well, not yet.
"I would prefer to spend all my time lost
in the design process, but then each year's
collection would consist of twelve items," said
MacDonald. "...Maybe one day when I'm silly
famous I can sell each necklace for a bazillion
In 2012 MacDonald's themed her designs
with colour. For example the bracelets were
metal chains from grandfather clocks and fire
engine-red seeds from the Caribbean, peachy
bamboo from Mexico, sun-bleached fish
vertebrae out of the Amazon, earthy reed tips
for Guatemala and golden Acai from Brazil.
Many pieces in MacDonald’s last collection
were also reversible. Using vintage wallpaper
and Japanese prints MacDonald rosined the
papers to the backs of her pocket watch
designs to make the double sided.
The previous lines were more serious,
comprising mostly of "metals, brass and black".
Regardless of seasonal style, MacDonald says
her designs are conversation starters and she
likes selling pieces at music festivals especially
because it is a one-of-a-kind design at once-in-
MacDonald believes women are naturally
drawn to her designs because, like every
woman, each piece is unique.
"I don't design for a 'type' of woman, I
design for women," said MacDonald. "Women
deserve to feel like an individual, because they
are! I think a RAW piece helps them do that."
In addition to individuality MacDonald
also found Canadian women liked the social
responsibility and eco-friendly aspect of
MacDonald’s designs. MacDonald said she’s
committed to keeping her products one
hundred percent Canadian made, which has
not always been the most profitable way to
operate, but she is determined to make it work.
“My entire business model revolves around
those principals and I intend to keep it that
way,” said MacDonald.
Right now, MacDonald is keeping RAW
focused on the domestic Canadian market and
creating jewellery for the Canadian woman. In
her next collection she hopes to incorporates
patina’s, like tarnished copper and begin
selling year round through her website, www.
rawecojewellery.com. In the next few years
she hopes to eventually branch out into the
United States and Europe, but for now the
Canadian identity and the stimulating demand
for responsibly sourced jewellery is forefront in
MacDonald’s chic travel eclectic,
environmentally ethical and all-Canadian
brand fits right in with the artisanal movement
moving coast to coast and as the demand for
unique, clear conscious accessories that tell
a story continues to grow, it ensures we can
expect more creations from Devaki MacDonald.
166 AMAZING CANADIAN FASHION 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
on ashtyn: outfit from homegrown boutique
a six month
works of art for
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hair by DAT TrAN make-up by WhiTNey sellors model AshTyN FrANKliN/ChANTAle NADeAu
on location at eVergreeN BriCK WorKs
"IT IS A
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dress stylist's own collection
outfit from homegrown boutique
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