As Calgary's art scene continues to grow, designer Alex Krewiak is determined to set herself apart as a standout
Imagine you live in a fairytale. Not your typical fairytale but instead a dark cold world.
Would you succumb to the darkness or find beauty in your surroundings?
Alex Michelle Krewiak — a.k.a A.M.K. — is helping you find the light in that world with her mystical, dark and stunning pieces.
Krewiak is an advertising student turned jewelry designer who is redefining local Calgary jewelry. Featured at the inaugural YYC Fashion Week held at the King Edward C-Space on Sept. 25, 2013, Krewiak wowed the crowd with her whimsical and romantic jewelry. She describes her newest collection as "the darkness inside fairytales, and demons, and finding the light and the beauty within that."
Krewiak grew up in Sherwood Park, just outside of Edmonton, Alta., before moving to Calgary in junior high. Throughout high school, advertising was her ultimate goal, but after entering her first year at Alberta College of Art and Design, she fell in love with jewelry design and switched her major to follow her dreams, with nothing but support from her family.
"My mom actually is the one who supported me in making the switch. I told her about it and she was like, 'That sounds so cool, do it!' So with that support, I knew I could," Krewiak said.
With no art background, Krewiak developed her skills and soon realized she was on the right path.
Krewiak's foray into the fashion industry started with a clothing line that she developed in 2009 while attending college. The clothing line received positive feedback, but Krewiak felt like she had to improve her skills.
"I felt like that was great but I needed to fine-tune my skills so I went to fashion school in Vancouver," she said. "That was great but it was repetitive for me, so I dropped out and focused on an internship with a distribution and wholesaler where I learned a lot. It was a great experience."
From there, Krewiak was ready to come home to Calgary and re-enter the world of jewelry design and eventually develop her current collection.
Designing is something Krewiak feels many people can do, but designing a piece that has more to it takes a special talent.
"I admire Alexander McQueen because there was so much thought behind everything," Krewiak said. "It's just another garment bag if there's no thought behind it."
That's just what A.M.K. has backing her line — thought. What stands out when you see the current A.M.K. collection is the cohesive story told by the individual pieces of jewelry.
Krewiak said that everything she designs is like a narrative story that she portrays through her jewelry after telling or hearing a story. "For some reason when I try to go other directions, it doesn't work out as well."
Krewiak isn't shy about sharing the stories that inspired her creations.
"I did the orchid one specifically because as a little kid, me and my friend decided to go pick these flowers, so we went and kind of destroyed our neighbour's flower garden and we dressed up with pearls and had a great time," she said. "But, I got in a lot of trouble, so it was kind of my little memory of that."
The beautiful orchid piece cast in silver and outfitted with pearls is not the only piece that truly captures the story behind it. The tree cuff bracelet, another standout piece in the collection, encompasses the whole theme of a dark and twisted fairytale.
"I love that trees are the first place you go as a kid to think," she said. "There's so much beauty to a tree and so many stories can come out of looking at trees."
The piece, which sells for $175, is made of sterling silver and handcrafted by Krewiak.
"I love her line!" said Sara Crockett who is a longtime A.M.K. customer. "It's so versatile, I can wear my pieces for work or at night. I have several custom pieces that I have purchased for myself as well as my family."
Crockett is confident that Krewiak will be successful with her line. "I think Alex is so creative and can create pieces that are timeless, but also trendy," she said.
Krewiak believes there's so much more to creating a jewelry design than just the pieces themselves, which is the reason she puts so much into the shows to feature her designs. Her latest collection, following her dark fairytale theme, displays models dressed in white, simulating walking through a dark snowy forest — their hair is messy and makeup dark.
"I put so much into production and to what a show is going to look like, the music, and everything else," she said. "I think that is so important."
Don't expect A.M.K. to develop too quickly. She wants to stay true to herself over gaining fame. Krewiak believes it's important to develop her line locally first, build a strong brand, and then see where she can go with it. For now, she will stick to the independent boutiques in Calgary in order to stay small and build her brand within the community.
- By KARI PEDERSEN