The highly-coveted Golden South Sea Pearl floats in the midst of the hand-crafted floral pin, the Sampaguita, the national flower of the Philippines. Reminiscent of Jasmine, his favourite flower, the Canadian Jewellery designer wanted to cast the emblem of one of the Philippines’ cultural and national symbolic identity. Anchored at $1,100, Jon De Porter donated his rare masterpiece to the Kol Hope Foundation for Children through this year’s first ever Canada Philippine Fashion Week in Toronto. The exquisite brooch is fine in detail, cast in sterling silver, each numbered and laser engraved, with only a limited edition of 12. Every single one is customized for the discriminate taste of his clients. Following the media blitz surrounding his latest collection featured for none other than the world-celebrated Fashion designer Francis Libiran’s 100 Dress Collection that graced the Roy Thomson Hall, De Porter invited guests for a preview of his latest creations. At the JDP Private Shopping Suite, it was the chance to engage clients in a more intimate setting that embodies the artist’s statement and branding.
Inspired by jewellery catalogues of prestigious world-wide auction houses, the stark white walls within the limits of a modern, minimalistic suite, displayed the array of precious gems from quartz, amethyst, sapphire, freshwater pearls, to exquisite man-made stones and crystals meticulously designed. They radiated contrasting colours– of blues, green hues, rose, and yellows– as natural light beamed through the high glass walls overlooking the city’s view. No doubt, this Montreal-born, flight-attendant-turned- jewellery-designer is taking leaps to return to the fashion industry in a very big way, since his old-school days at LaSalle College in Montreal for fashion design and he’s serious about it — especially when it comes to his personal collection curated from his jet-setting ways across the globe, “I’m a gem aficionado to the point that it gets a little bit geeky,” De Porter laughed as he explained where he acquired the Persian Turquoise from his trip to Tehran, and Rhodochrosite originally mined in Capillitas, Argentina. He discussed the history and art work that went behind the making of his classic accessories, “It takes hours of trial and error to design a necklace,“ he explained, as he carefully showcased a baroque freshwater pearl necklace drilled asymmetrically to form a foliage-like drape, made with genuine amethyst and man-made crystal valued at $245 CDN. “So it’s really not the end of the world” he gave a quick smile as he placed it back on the shelf. Many of JDP’s creations are transformable and can often be worn in more than one way, meant for the client who enjoys travelling, aspires to look put-together, and appreciates unique jewelry designs that are both versatile and equally luxurious.
De Porter is much of a traveller himself, hitting local spots to fully immerse in the cultural and social lifestyle for each country he pays to visit. Throwback to 2008, his flight to Beijing led him to discover the booming pearl market that reeled him back in the fashion scene, “I got there and it’s just like I landed on Ali Baba’s cavern of goodness! It was candy land! I almost felt like a kid again!” he exclaimed. “I watched the workers knotting the pearls- because that’s the skill necessary, to be able to do the knotting in between and after a few minutes I picked up the moves and I was able to practice.”
But it wasn’t until walking through the back streets and narrow alleys of a little market in Istanbul, and mingling with the local dealers where he found his true love: the Zultanite. Found in only a single mine in the world, in a remote location of the Anatolian Mountains 4,000 feet above sea level, the Zultanite is extremely rare stone, that naturally changes colours from a beautiful soft rosy hue, to a bright key lime greens, and canary yellows to rich champagne reflections depending on the lighting. In the gem world, it’s a chameleon. And in De Porter’s view, the unique and rarity of the stone is made for the woman who is a collector, “who is looking for something new, something fresh, something different.” When he meets that client, price would not even be a matter of discussion.
The elegance and luxurious quality of his works was a match-made in heaven as he was paired to accessorize Libiran’s gowns, “CPFW executive management were talking about how to get me involved, and how to feature the gold Philippine Pearl and so they said ‘Okay you are going to accessorize the runway for Francis Libiran because your stuff is really elegant really high end’ and so I said, “Oh okay how many pieces is he bringing? 12? 15? 20? No 100!” De Porter laughed.
Then he had six weeks left to prepare. It was night and day from getting the look-books, peppered across his walls, with cut -out little pages like post-its as he ran out of space, all colour-coordinated drawing a semblance to the Table of Elements in Chemistry. Well, it was great chemistry for the duo-team from the get-go, “For an emerging designer to be paired with an established and famous designer like him, they welcomed me with arms wide open and they were a real class act throughout the fashion week,” he gushed.
While De Porter admits he might not have that meteoric rise, his way is only upwards. His growing clientele, not only from within the confines of bustling Toronto, but expanding internationally heading towards the East will keep him locked down in his vault. What’s more, Libiran himself has personally invited De Porter to a first-time trip to the Philippines this coming January. Another collaboration-in-the-making perhaps? It’s a wait-and-see show. And if that’s not enough inspiration, something else pushes him to out-do himself, “I give 25 percent of the profit to charity. That’s the extra motivation I need to produce something great,” he said.
Well, that’s some kind of fashion with a heart.
To read more, pick up the September issue of Accent Magazine in select Chapters/Indigo stores.