Patti Smith Helped Jewelry Brand Pyrrha Celebrate 20 Years

The punk-rock legend performed at the brand’s anniversary party

“Everyone just stood there totally enthralled, with their mouths open,” recalls Danielle Papin, cofounder of jewelry brand Pyrrha, recounting the moment punk-rock legend Patti Smith (pictured, right) walked into company’s wide-open new studio space last week, poised to perform. “I feel like no one believed it was actually going to happen.”

The occasion for Smith’s appearance—and mesmerizing hour-long performance—was a party celebrating the Vancouver, B.C.–based brand’s 20th anniversary. The earthy-cool collection, which is perhaps most well-known for its amulet-style Talisman line, began from cofounder Wade Papin’s kitchen table in 1995.

Now the brand is worn by lovers of hip, handmade jewelry the world over—and has been embraced by its home city in a big way. “I think we’re really a part of the city now,” says Danielle. “When we go to the coffee shop, we’ll see four or five pieces of Pyrrha. It”s been a really good place for us to be.”

But how does a relatively small Canadian brand net an iconic rock star to perform for its inner circle of friends, family, and fans? “We have a friend in the music business,” says Danielle, “and he had been touring with bands for years. When we told him about wanting to have someone to perform, he offered to help reach out to people.”

Smith and the mesmerized crowd

In Wade’s dream scenario, Patti Smith (a longtime hero of his) would take the stage at the party—but the idea seemed way too pie-in-the-sky for them both, recalls Danielle. Still, “we brought her up to our friend, and he actually had a connection to her.” The duo also knew Smith owned pieces from the brand and “that combination really got us there…the stars kind of aligned.”

The Papins sent out save-the-date invites that stated something special was in store at the event, but “Vancouver isn’t the kind of place where Patti Smith plays a party,” says Danielle. “I don’t think anyone thought that would happen.”

Smith, who Danielle says “was very kind and sweet” wore a Pyrrha piece during the performance and called out the brand during the set. “She is also still an amazing performer—she hasn’t skipped a beat,” she adds.

Roughly 200 people attended the party, and “it was tough to keep it small once everyone figured out what was going to happen—there was a a lot of last-minute trying to get friends in,” Danielle says with a laugh. “But our core group was there, and it was nice to be able to do that for them. So many of them are big fans of Patti’s.”

(Photos courtesy of Pyrrha)

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JCK Magazine Editor