Interview with Candace Ang
Candace Ang is a talented jewelry and fashion designer who has made a name for herself with a high end line which sells in stores such as Nordstrom, Henri Bendel and Curve. She has worked as a design consultant and illustrator for such companies as The Gap, J. Lo, Cynthia Rowley and Lee Angel. In 2004, Miguel Adrover relied on Candace's accessory designs to highlight his final runway presentation at New York Fashion Week for Spring 2005. Candace's work is frequently featured in fashion magazines, including: InStyle, W, Elle, Lucky, Marie Claire, and US Weekly. Candace holds a BBA in Finance from SFU and an AAS degree in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design.
Q: How did you make the choice to use such unconventional materials to create jewelry?
A: My artistic aesthetic as a jewelry designer is purely design based and is inspired very much by runway fashion. I have done jewelry design for 10 years and since the beginning, it’s just been something I’ve known how to do.
I am very inspired by clothing, specifically by my favorite avant-garde and luxury designers. I like to use materials that are not usually thought of as "jewelry" - there are very few beads and gems in my collection because when I started I saw that the market was consumed with this type of jewelry and it would be impossible to compete.
I like to use fabric, ribbon, unusual metal parts, and vintage chains to create something that is wearable and completely different each season. I love combining modern and vintage materials with an organic silhouette to create something that is new and modern. That’s exactly what I did in the Lost Lovers Lucite collection from 2006. I used shiny, black Lucite and added vintage parts, and it became one of my breakout collections and got tons of press—everything from Daily Candy to Lucky Magazine.
Q: As jewelry designer, your work is largely appraised based on how many people buy it. How do you reconcile this with your artistic inspiration?
A: Of course any designer wants others to wear their work—it’s very nice to actually see it on someone!
But I am never too concerned if they understand my vision at the moment. Most of my collections are not well received when they are initially released, but 6 months later I find everyone turns around and loves what I’d made! What never changes though is that the editors all love my stuff when I show it to them. So I feel like they do understand what I am designing. After all what’s the point of making something if it’s already out there?
Its very strange for me sometimes, so as a designer I have learned not to gauge the success of a collection right away. It has taught me to rely on my gut instinct and trust my own notions of good design.
Although each season my collections look entirely different, they still always make sense within the context of the rest of my own work.
Q: You started out in Vancouver—how did you get exposure in the US?
A: I have taught myself to let nothing faze me when it comes to my goals and aspirations.
Six years ago, I had a small jewelry company in Canada called Super Candy (my first company) and we had grown just enough that I wanted to begin expansion in the states. I had made a trip to Los Angeles and decided to just cold call shops that I found interesting. To this day, I can’t believe how bold I was just to walk into these stores and show them my line!
I went to the Beverly Center because I had read about several boutiques that might be a good fit for the collection in some fashion magazines.
I remember walking into one famous store and being rejected upon the spot. The sales girl told me bluntly that, "the jewelry was just not their look". I remember feeling so bad and sitting with my box of jewelry in the food court thinking how ridiculous I must be to have flown all the way to LA for this.
After 20 minutes and coffee later I decided to leave the mall. On my way out I noticed one other jewelry shop and thought - what the heck, might was well walk in....so I did and the woman at the counter noticed my shoes and started chatting me up about them. As our conversation continued she found out what I did and asked why I was in LA. I sheepishly told her my story and she asked me to show her my line. Upon seeing the collection she placed quite a large order on the spot! It was amazing!
So I guess the moral of this story is just keep on going. Don't shut the door on yourself (with self doubt) because there will always others to do that for you (that first shop) and at the same time there will be others who will open doors. It may be the next one you knock on, so keep on knocking.....
Q: What are the differences between being NYC based vs. LA based?
A: In New York there’s access to materials and inspiration, to museums, the top boutiques in the world and even the best and most innovative street fashion right in front of you. New York is completely in your face and as a designer that energy really feeds you. It is one of the top cities in the world for fashion and all the magazines and editors are right there which is great.
On the other hand, there’s a complete lack of space and incredibly high rent for that lack of space. New York has a crazy pace and there are almost too many things to do. There are so many parties, events, friends, and shows that you end up exhausted.
LA has beautiful weather and a calm lifestyle. You can get good space for your money, and there’s a healthy standard of living.
Unfortunately, in Los Angeles there’s an incredible lack of materials and I find very little inspiration from the street style. The internet these days allows me to be in both cities and have access to the best of both worlds. I travel back and forth bi monthly and keep in touch with editors and my showrooms via email. It’s really wonderful.
Q: What does inspire you?
A: Street style, haute couture, my own mood that season, falling in and out of love, beautiful materials, music, and of course my girlfriends.
Q: What’s coming up for you?
A: I’m currently working on a fine jewelry line with my creative partner and friend Tristan Brando. The line is called Hayworth&LeDoux (www.hayworthledoux.com) and will be jewelry made with gold, diamonds, colored stones in really interesting and new settings. We are experimenting with new ways of presenting and wearing classic jewelry items. I can't say too much right now!
The line is launching in May of 2008. Also, it is the 10th anniversary of my first line Supercandy Designs which I started in 1998. I am re-launching it in September along with the infamous Waffles from Waffles and Falafles fame. It should be a very interesting year!