Never completely outrageous, but always in something you wouldn’t expect– an Alexander McQueen cream-coloured tunic or Charlotte Olympia uber-pumps with a mustard-ish plastic heel, Kaelen dresses with a certain knowing intelligence when it comes to clothes. Every piece matters, nothing is dispensable, and, in a Rick Owens cropped leather jacket, a skirt from The Row, and a pair of Martin Margiela’s chunky “Puss in Boots” boots, silhouette is everything. Aside from her matte red lipstick, which she points out is definitely “not her mother’s kind of shiny,” there are no insane patterns or color schemes. Kaelen’s art, personally and professionally, is subdued, always more of a whisper than a scream; “office-esque,” she calls it. Her concept of herself as a conservative dresser makes it all the more ironic that one of Kaelen’s friends wanted to dress up as Kaelen– for Halloween.
It is refreshing to come across a designer who doesn’t trumpet about wearing a single brand from head-to-toe. Instead, she supports the re-inventing and evolution of a single piece over time, the same way her favorite books take her on a sprawling journey. The characters are what make the novel, she says, discussing her current favorite, the enduring East of Eden, just like character “makes” her outfits, with a vintage poncho thrown over a Zero + Maria Cornejo black tunic dress. Of the earthy and refined knits of her own design, especially the extra-long cardigan that she wears with an Equipment blouse, she says, “My sweaters are three dimensional and very solid, like my Canadian heritage.” The bookworm that she is, Kaelen comes home from the bar at 4 AM and reads. She believes that art made with thought and intelligence outlasts trends and passing fads. Kaelen says, “Trends matter, in the sense that they’re relevant currently. But it also matters that they stay relevant to whoever buys them.”