Designer profile: Kaelen’s effortless, elongated geometry

Photography by Marco Pedde
Photography by Marco Pedde

Yet another of the hot young Canadian talents burning up NYC, Toronto native Kaelen Farncombe is one expatriate you might want to keep dibs on. Relocating to the Big Apple to study fashion design at Parsons New School for Design a few years back, Farncombe honed her skills while interning for designers Stella McCartney and Jenni Kayne. Channeling the easy sophistication favoured by those two designers, Farncombe launched her own effortless line of standout separates, Kaelen, early last year. With only three collections to date, the 26-year-old has developed a reputation for spinning unusual inspirations (her starting point for Spring was literal tornado chasing) into richly modern pieces that seem to transcend trends. The young designer’s aesthetic is already easily identifiable: effortless, elongated geometry with pops of colour like fall 2011’s riffs on chartreuse, red and tangerine.

We chatted with Farncombe about her aesthetic, chasing tornadoes and the business of fashion.

Were you always into fashion?
I was always into fashion. I remember I demanded that my parents let me wear a red dress with little flowers on it for a week when I was young, probably around 4 or 5. I also wanted to be called Brittany, but that didn’t take. I think I got away with the dress though!

Its such a perfect fit that you interned for Stella and Jenni. To me your style is a combination of the two. What did you learn from them?
They were both really great experiences. Jenni Kayne was still growing quite a bit when I interned there, so I got an amazing education in the building of a business. I also ended up doing a little bit of everything, so in a lot of ways it really helped shape my approach to starting my own line. Stella was a completely different experience. It was amazing, fast paced, and a really inspiring business model. I really liked seeing how much the company valued the standards that it was built on. It was inspiring working at both of these companies, because I really admired the women who built them.

Photography by Marco Pedde

How did chasing tornadoes manifest into your Spring collection?
It translated mostly through the colour palette. I added things like raw hems and asymmetric bolts to kid of evoke the calm-to- storm feel, but it was mostly the amazing colors that were the focal point. I got amazing photographs from the trip.

What’s the story behind fall?
I wanted fall to feel really solid, tangible, and like home. Not necessarily my own, but just home in general. It started with Cowboy Kate, and then went from there into the idea of pieces being like family heirlooms. I wanted things to feel like they had a permanence and relevance to them at the same time.

How would you describe your personal style?
I’m all over the place, really. I would hope that it is effortless. I definitely prefer solids in interesting silhouettes to anything print-crazy. I’m not really a vintage girl; I like things that are modern and a little weird.

Where do you see your line/you as a designer going?
I want to do more collaborations with other designers/artists. I loved working with ALR on the hand-dyed pieces from spring. It’s so interesting when you marry your own vision with someone else’s perception of that. It ends up being a really interesting reflection. And it’s the best part of being in a creative industry, even though it feels like everyone around you is cooler than you’ll ever be.

Kaelen is currently available online at Pieces from the fall collection will be available in August.

See the Kaelen Fall collection! »