There's more to Myles Sexton's jewelry than meets the eye - but that's a story best told by the designer himself.
The 22-year-old Brooklyn, Hants County native turned Torontonian unveiled his premier independent collection during a runway show he organized in Toronto Jan. 11.
In a speech he read at the show, Sexton explained that he chose to dedicate the show to Matt Rawson, who “left this world tragically and unexpectedly” about two months before the big reveal.
“When Matt and I where dating, he always struggled with feeling beautiful and fitting into society standards, which I am sure everyone here tonight can relate to at one point in your lives, ” said Sexton, in his speech.
“Tonight’s production is not just about showing ‘pretty jewelry’ down a runway. It was about being proud of what makes you unique because that is real beauty.”
Sexton likened the material predominantly featured in the collection — elytra beetle wings imported from Thailand — to the audience observing the runway show.
“Just like the variety of hues found within the wings of the elytra beetles, you all reflect the same wide spectrum of individuality. You're beautiful on your own, but strengthen by being together.”
To emphasize the message behind his work, Sexton intentionally selected a diverse group of models, varying in size, height and ethnicity, to wear his jewelry and clothing by Luca Galardo down the runway.
“With everything that I do, I'm trying to promote not being afraid to be yourself,” said Sexton, in recent phone interview.
The handmade, embroidered jewelry that Sexton deemed runway ready ranges from pieces that included 50 elytra beetle wings to items crafted with 2,000-plus wings. The collection was two years in the making, with individual pieces taking six- to 80-plus hours to perfect.
Sexton is already imagining how he can top the collection while continuing to promote diversity by challenging conventional views of beauty.
“Since I was little, I've been wanting to change what society's standards are.”
The Avon View High School grad, who battled depression as an openly gay teenager, says he is now realizing his dreams because he chose to embrace what makes him stand out in a crowd and do what makes him happy. He also works 14- to 17-hour days to stay relevant as a designer, makeup artist and model.
It's a busy life Sexton leads, but he says he'll always make time to tell his story.
“If I can make a difference and I can stop people from feeling depressed and give them somewhere to look for inspiration... then that means more to me than the makeup and the modelling and the designing.”