The holiday season is officially here! Our great town has an abundance of local shops that offer great gifts for everyone on your “Naughty and Nice” list! From the foodies, beer lovers, art lovers, coffee lovers and outdoorsy people there are plenty of options, but don’t forget about the fashionistas on your list. This past weekend I went out to a bunch of local boutiques to round up my favorites and what you can buy at each locally owned boutique.
I made my rounds to the ever popular Union. Union is a really great boutique because it not only offers the latest in fashions for women, but for men also. Union is very trendy yet almost minimalist. The blouses and dresses I saw on the racks were perfect for styling on their own which are great pieces to have in anyone’s wardrobe. I also found some really great quality hats and very simple jewelry. Union is a bit on the pricier side so these will be splurge gifts.
Minx is a favorite downtown. Minx is very trendy and offers everything any fashionista would want. From piko tops, lavish dresses, unique one of a kind jewelry pieces and vintage inspired shoes. Minx even has a new boutique that offers small housewares that would also make perfect gifts for anyone. Minx has a wide price range so you could surely find something for someone on your list.
My favorite spot I ventured in to was Virtue. Virtue offers trendy dresses, tops, vest, coats and layering pieces. Their jewelry selection is really quirky and boho and most pieces were under $20.00. Virtue is a great place to cross of the fashionistas because everything is great quality and also really affordable.
What makes Asheville so weird? The answer you get will depend on the person you ask! I got here in the 70s and Asheville was not yet known for being “weird”, rather it was just a small mountain town which was just enough “different” from the surrounding smaller towns, that many of their more “colorful types” sort of gravitated towards it. Back then, as it is now, there really wasn’t anything too weird about folks wearing gauze skirts and having long hair, people were perhaps, just more used to seeing guys in overalls and work boots.
But this is Asheville NOW! And while you may see guys in skirts, you will also see them in suits and yes, you can still even see them in overalls! You will see some of the same on girls and often even on a four legged citizen or two. We have FUN with fashion here, because that’s our style!
My own answer to what makes Asheville so weird is that this community embraces our collective weirdness in an inspiring and gorgeous environment.
I changed the way I look at jewelry Monday night. I didn’t learn anything about measurements, techniques, or jewelry biz lingo really. I don’t remember the names of the gorgeous gems or stones I was tinkering with either. I didn’t want to know those things. However, when Asheville jewelry-maker, Nadine Fidelman invited me into her home, she taught me all I could ever hope to learn about why we choose to decorate ourselves the way we do.
At first glance jewelry is like looking out into a crowd of people. There are a lot of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles all running together into rainbow overload. The first thoughts are, ‘oh I see pretty things,’ and then we start searching for a focal point. It is in that search that we realize we’re being pulled towards certain things and we start to examine why. While I was zeroing in on a generally smooth black stone with a noticeable organic crack in the upper right corner I could overhear one of my side kicks talking about the jewelry.
“It’s not just beads, they’re individual pieces,” I heard my fellow playmate Kelly Allen offer.
At first I thought, ‘yeah, ok, there’s a lot of different jewelry here. I can see that.’ Then I took a breath and thought about that word individual. I realized what she meant, and that I wasn’t just looking at the pieces, I was meeting them. I went back to my black stone, noticing the gorgeous, crystal-esque inclusions the flaw revealed. I was in love. I thought of my own personality, how I like the rawness in life, and the beauty I find in truth. I also believe in fighting like hell and collecting battle scars…I thought of how hard it is being a writer and how far I still had to go in the world of manuscripts. I wanted that beautiful stone. I had found my connection.
We moved the party to the carpet where the impossible not love, Nadine plopped right down with us, kicking her shoes off ready to dig in. She shared stories with us about where she had found inspiration for her work, and let her obvious passion for her trade seep out onto us. We started tossing necklaces and bracelets around, trimming ourselves in the jewelry like we did our mothers’ as children. We’d try a piece on in between sips of girly shelf white wine, and chat about what we’d chosen. I asked the other three girls what they thought of what they’d selected.
Nadine chatting with Kelly about healing stones
Kelly, who had remarked earlier on the individualism, was drawn to stones she knew to have healing qualities. As cancer survivor, officially in remission since January; she keeps her eyes peeled for items in nature than bode healing qualities. Her journey with her sickness, and attention to wellness has brought her upon her choices in jewelry. Out of those stones, one in particular jumped out at her.
“This one looks like a fishing lure,” she commented excitedly holding up the yellowish vertical stone,” like my Daddy used.” She set it down smiling. She had found her connection.
Whitney Thompson, a native Ashevillian piped up from the other side of the circle, holding up a gorgeous blue stone in a similar fashion. “This one reminded me of the sea,” she said. “It’s like when you’re little. I just wanted to take my flip-flops off. When I saw it I wanted to go to the beach and run around.”
Whitney explaining what she loved about the piece
Whitney’s stone actually provoked a childhood memory to surface, making her feel carefree again as she had in her most innocent years. Whitney had found her connection.
The youngest of the group, Hannah, a 16-year-old, chose a piece unlike the rest of us, without a stone. Her piece was raw, twisted sterling silver wired, manipulated by hand into an untamed yet simple set of earrings. I chuckled thinking how the piece was like being a teenager, beautiful, unsure which direction it was going, and not as simple as it appeared to be. They fit Hannah just perfectly, and hung daintily on her young ears. She had made her connection. I wonder if she knew…
While I was pondering this Whitney was perusing the backside of a necklace, “you know, their backs are just as pretty and detailed as their fronts.”
Nadine explained to the group how this is one of her trademarks. I thought how much it made sense because there are different sides to women…many sides. They are sometimes tucked away against our own skins for only us to enjoy and sometimes decided to be displayed so people can see our normally hidden sides. Nadine told us she’d even been in public and saw her creation flipped over, showing them from the opposite sides. What self-expression.
I learned something Monday night. Jewelry isn’t just embellishment, it’s an embellishment of us. Often times who we are is in the tiny details of the things we choose to let represent us. We weren’t wearing jewelry, we were wearing little pieces of who we are. I thought I was going to just play dress-up, and I did to an extent. I just didn’t know I would be using Nadine’s art to dress up as myself.
If you want to make your connection with Jewelry by Nadine check out her collection at the Kress Emporium in downtown Asheville.
19 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
If you’d love your own play date with Nadine call her 828-654-0993 or email her at email@example.com
Have an interesting story? Contact AskAsheville’s Lorna Hollifield at lornalh@gmail .com 828-280-1799