One-of-a-kind, chic, and imbued with French history… What more could one want in their jewelry box?
This is none other than French Kande – an iconic vintage inspired jewelry line created by Los Angeles-based designer Kande Hall. Featuring vintage French medallions discovered during the designer’s travels throughout France, French Kande is the epitome of unique style and creative French charm.
We recently sat down with Kande and her COO and loving husband, Lenn, to uncover the story behind this ever-growing venture that has captured the hearts of fashionable women and Francophiles – many of whom, have closets full of French Kande…
“It’s always been meant to be,” Kande says, describing the serendipitous story of stumbling upon a box of medallions at an antique market. On a trip to Paris back in 2009 – one of many that the couple has taken together over the years – Kande came across a unique item that she had never seen before. Dozens of dirty and rusty pieces of metal featuring iconic coats of arms and depictions of art were seemingly forgotten and dumped into an unassuming cardboard box. That box turned out to be Kande’s treasure chest.
Contrary to their monumental appearance, these medallions originally didn’t hold much value. The antique vendor explained that in the 1960s, these little pieces of metal were created as marketing items for businesses around France. Similar to how matchbooks are handed out today, the medallions featured an inventive or iconic design accompanied by the name, address, and phone number of the store or business on the back. Everything from patisseries and coffee shops to vineyards and credit unions got in on the handout trend which lasted for only one decade. After the 60s, the fad was over.
Fifty years later, these scraps of metal got a renewal on life – and a luxurious one at that. “They’re little pieces of history,” Lenn explains, “and we research every one of them. We find out the story behind each and then describe it on the individual ‘romance card’ that comes with each purchase.” You can browse their current collection of medallions with their story here.
Complementing the uniqueness of the historical background is the artisanal touch that Kande adds to each piece. A former fine artist and graphic designer, her training on balance and weight, color theory, and graphics served as an invaluable foundation. Kande takes great care in every step of the design and manufacturing process from casting, oxidizing and hand finishing the medallions to designing the bezels (the casting that frames the medallion) and other findings, to curating the custom-cut semi-precious stones, chains and freshwater pearls that completes her vision.
Coming from a singular design perspective, the brand DNA runs strongly through every item. The beauty of this is that French Kande’s latest collection can be layered with a necklace that was designed four years ago, and they mesh seamlessly. Another major advantage for creative and practical purposes is that their production is entirely local. In Los Angeles, her team of talented employees hand-assembles the products which are all made-to-order. While it is certainly more expensive to do it this way, the team has total control over the whole process and can turn orders around quickly.
With three major collections yearly that are supported with six smaller monthly “stack-ups” in addition to made-to-order assortments for over 600 boutiques and wholesalers nationwide, there is certainly a large amount of work that goes into the creation of French Kande. “I’m not sure who came up with the phrase ‘if you really love it, it’s not work,’ but they were wrong. It’s a lot of work. But I absolutely love it,” Kande acknowledges.
When asked where she gets her design inspiration from, Kande notes that she is greatly influenced by Fashion Week street style. “I look at it right as it’s happening or right afterwards. Street style is taking high fashion and then seeing what people do with it on the ground. That really inspires me.” She also explains that she subscribes to many fashion magazines that are still in print: “I’m inspired by the high-end photography, the scene setting.” Like any savvy designer, she absorbs the current world of fashion and then paints her own taste over it.
The fashionable designer advises women wondering how to style French Kande with the most simple – and very French – outfit equation: “We advocate a white-collared shirt or white t-shirt, jeans, a belt, maybe a hat and cute glasses, French Kande and you’re done!” The necklace is such a statement piece that it elevates a simple outfit to a whole new level – and subsequently, boosts a woman’s confidence as well. After all, Kande explains, this brand is not just about jewelry, “it’s about how women feel when they wear it.”
Shop French Kande online and create your own custom treasure with a one-of-a-kind story: www.frenchkande.com