Style Find­ing in­spi­ra­tion in far-flung lo­cales, a multi-gen fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tion comes home

Find­ing in­spi­ra­tion in far-flung lo­cales, a multi-gen­er­a­tion fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tion comes home

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Viia Beau­ma­nis Pho­tog­ra­phy by Christoph Strube

RAISED IN WARTORN VILNIUS (then part of Poland, now Lithua­nia’s cap­i­tal) dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, Krystyne Grif­fin fash­ioned out­fits “out of scraps” for her doll. “I was a war child, so our cloth­ing was noth­ing,” she says. “I made my own un­til I was 17 and I was able to buy clothes – and these were much nicer.”

Mak­ing up for lost time, Grif­fin, now 76, launched a fash­ion ca­reer as Ea­ton’s Paris-based haute cou­ture buyer in the 1970s and was soon the go-to tastemaker for Canada’s finest re­tail­ers, se­lect­ing chic la­bels for Holt Ren­frew’s Bloor Street flag­ship and lin­ing the tony new Hazel­ton Lanes, which opened in 1976, with sophisto bou­tiques from Her­mès to Cour­règes. Swathed in el­e­gance, state­ment jew­elry and Sam­sara by Guer­lain, a Best-Dressed list peren­nial ad­mired as much for her re­gal bear­ing as her strik­ingly orig­i­nal style, Grif­fin al­most sin­gle-hand­edly brought se­ri­ous fash­ion to Toronto – panache that saw her ap­pointed pres­i­dent of YSL Rive Gauche Canada.

Shift­ing her fo­cus from fash­ion to jew­elry, Grif­fin now de­signs a se­lect ar­ray of cus­tom pieces – hand­pol­ished sil­ver and gold, adorned with beads, coins and coral she sources from ex­otic bazaars on her trav­els. “Mid­dle East­ern souks are best,” ad­vises Grif­fin, who pos­sesses the world’s largest pri­vate col­lec­tion of black coral and has a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for Mus­lim prayer beads. Swiftly gain­ing cult sta­tus, her first limited-edi­tion col­lec­tion sold out at Bergdorf’s in Man­hat­tan in 2000. Aloof to mass pro­duc­tion, Grif­fin de­clined the luxe re­tailer’s re­quest for a steady sup­ply, opt­ing in­stead to place se­lect items in the bou­tique at Toronto’s Gar­diner Mu­seum.

“Over the years, I’ve been in­spired by Yves Saint Lau­rent, by early Gabrielle Chanel and, of course, Diana Vree­land – for her look and her bril­liant, witty mind. As I ma­tured, my style be­came what suited my sil­hou­ette. I’m very tall and have no curves, so I pre­ferred lin­ear cloth­ing, straight lines and of­ten wore short skirts as the legs were okay.”

While Grif­fin says she didn’t in­herit any­thing from her mother on the style front – ex­cept “char­ac­ter” – she has handed down won­der­ful cloth­ing to her daugh­ter. “Unique pieces that I wore in my Paris crazy days, and she now wears them in her Ber­lin crazy days! We’re the same height, but she has a bet­ter fig­ure, so they look great on her. Younger women should have fun with their look, ex­per­i­ment and bring some fan­tasy to their im­age! An older woman can have fun, too, but clothes should not har­ness you. It’s im­por­tant that they’re fluid and have mo­bil­ity.”

It’s a point of view that synched per­fectly with her 44-year-old god­daugh­ter Whit­ney West­wood, whose epony­mous brand, Whit­ney Li­nen, launched five years ago with a range of table­top items and then fash­ion.

“When Whit­ney asked me to do this col­lec­tion with her, I was sur­prised as I felt that this ‘life in fash­ion’ is past his­tory for me. But I was chal­lenged to do it, to see how she and her friends would re­act,” says Grif­fin, who re­calls their pre­vi­ous fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tion as gift­ing “lit­tle Whit­ney with Miss Dior night­ies from Paris, which she would run around in all week­end wear­ing as a dress ….” at the age of five or six.

“I was a bit hes­i­tant to ask Krystyne to do this with me as I knew her at­ten­tion had shifted from fash­ion to jew­elry and travel,” says West­wood. “But her an­swer was yes, right off the bat, and it was all fun from there. She wanted to keep it sim­ple, easy and el­e­gant, which was per­fect for work­ing in li­nen. Krystyne has such great taste and style. It’s al­ways nat­u­ral, never con­trived.”

Col­lab­o­rat­ing on a 12-piece cap­sule col­lec­tion cen­tred on tu­nics, tops and kaf­tans (which she was also the face of, mod­el­ling the wardrobe for the look­book), Grif­fin placed the em­pha­sis on time­less gar­ments that trav­elled well and named it Voy­age.

“One should al­ways travel in com­fort and style. Even if you wear the same pieces over and over, ac­ces­sories give the dif­fer­ence to your look,” says Grif­fin, who spends much of her time abroad these days – ev­ery­where from Morocco to Mex­ico. “I love li­nen be­cause it has a fresh­ness to it and a bit of a crease, which you can do­mes­ti­cate when you wear it.”

“The Gap’s tagline for its li­nen line this year – ‘Wrin­kles En­cour­aged!’ – was bril­liant,” laughs West­wood, who ap­pre­ci­ates the fab­ric’s clas­sic yet ca­sual el­e­gance. “Voy­age is for the woman who en­joys travel, who is in­de­pen­dent, con­fi­dent, freespir­ited and ef­fort­lessly el­e­gant.”

Just like its muse.

Whit­ney West­wood and Krystyne Grif­fin wear­ing the Voy­age col­lec­tion they co-de­signed. Avail­able at Pink Tar­tan as part of their Cana­dian Chic ini­tia­tive or go to whit­ney­li­nen.com.

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