In a chic Parisian hotel room, on a break from the hustle and bustle of the fashion industry’s premier event, two Kelowna, B.C., women are basking in the afterglow of a world-class debut.
“We had the incredible experience of seeing mom’s one-of-a-kind jewelry collection walk the Paris Fashion Week runway and it was absolutely surreal,” Danielle, Donna’s daughter and the marketing arm of the company, said.
They went to Fashion Week with the brand Flying Solo, a curated fashion collective that brings together creatives from around the world. This week they learned they were just one of two Canadian jewelers invited to the who’s-who event of fashion, where they showed eight sets of jewelry for the runway show, consisting of a necklace, bracelet, and earrings.
“They’re bigger than what we normally make just because we wanted to make more of a statement because, of course, we’re in Paris, and being one of a kind,” Donna said, describing her Paris offerings.
“We did use many pearls (which ) is our trademark.”
But, she said, they expanded on that reliable theme and made some edgier pieces, using onyx and hundreds of little hearts.
“It swishes when you walk so it’s a little more edgy than normal and we used stones and colours we don’t usually use… a little more edgy, some romantic,” she said. “It was just thrilling to be able to make such pieces.”
Those who got to see her work take the stage were similarly excited, they’ve heard, and it’s lit a fire in Donna.
“Just making these these creations for Fashion Week, it really just spurred on my imagination and creativity,” she said.
“And I think that is deep down where my heart is because I find (the pieces) represent us, women. We’re all so different so having a one-of-a-kind or having the big statement pieces… everything is basically women, with all of our layers and all our moods and all our everything.”
Danielle pointed out that her mother is the sole designer and getting to watch her create original pieces has added to the experience.
“Just knowing how enjoyable it is for her, and as mom says, really coming back to our roots and focusing on our biggest pieces that’s where our passion lies,” she said. “That’s what resonates with people.”
It’s also changed the trajectory of the company, which this week will also see its work at the Rolls Royce Anniversary event in England.
It’s put on the St. James Publishing House, which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Rolls Royce being at Goodwood, the facility where they hand-make all of the cars.
The company reached out to them mid-fall after seeing the jewelry featured in British Vogue and they were looking for luxury designers from around the world who could come participate in the event, which puts a focus on luxury brands.
For the event, they’re going to be featured in a 400-page coffee table book that’s put together by leading journalists from around the world and included an interview and photoshoot.
When they’re at the event, the first part will focus on the launch for the book and later they’ll get to meet with other designers at an afternoon tea and discuss their work. Then they get to go to a press gala.
“We get to be all dolled up and actually attend the gala, which is more of a cocktails-and-canape style even with other luxury jewelry brands from around the world and fashion lovers from around the world, who will be able to see our collection in person and purchase it if they wish,” Donna said.
“It’s going to be quite quite the occasion.”
It’s also going to be a bit like a coming-home event.
The line was named after Carol, Donna’s mother, and Lily was her grandmother. Both were from England and the full-circle moment is making this shift all the more important and it’s just one of many ” small world” moments this adventure has taken them on.
Of note, Danielle found herself reconnecting with a friend whom she hadn’t seen in seven years, and met originally in Kelowna.
“We saw each other at the after-party for the Paris Fashion Week collection,” she said.
“He’s now a costume designer and stylist so when we go to London next week, we’re going to have a drink together.”
The line has been featured British Vogue, Vanity Fair and Glamour UK, and before this month, they were included in New York Fashion Week. They’ve had plenty of wins to date, but this time it feels like everything is aligning.
“This really feels like our final push for us to kind of take the world on and it’s been very, very validating, in addition to how exciting and fun it’s been,” she said.
The runway show for Fashion Week and the Rolls Royce event is Carolily’s kickoff to the UK and Europe and now they’re looking for other sales agents or distributors to represent them abroad.
“We know there is such a great market for us and especially, especially in the U.K. and we’re treating this as kind of a homecoming for Carol and Lily,” Danielle said.
“Being able to expand over here would be wonderful.”