Milan-based maximalist master J.J. Martin hosted a cocktail party Tuesday night in the private apartment of Samaritaine Paris. The La DoubleJ founder had double the reason to celebrate: She was marking her first dedicated store-in-store in France, plus feting her collaboration with Estelle Pigault and Chiara Totire.
That the former fashion editor held the event in the middle of the couture week fashion frenzy was less about the shows than just having fun.
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“I spent so many years dissecting every single molecule, and now I’m just really happy to play in my own space and then go home and spend time with my friends that have nothing to do with fashion,” she said of skipping the shows.
So she brought her fashion friends, including Dior global celebrity PR manager Mathilde Favier; interior designer Laura Gonzalez; Sisley chief executive officer Christine d’Ornano; interior decorator Vincent Darré, and former Zadig & Voltaire creative director Cecilia Bönström, among others.
No “quiet luxury” here. “I’m not doing a fashion label that is following trends. I’m doing something that is a product that works for real women that I know,” she said, with no particular demographic as a customer. Her bold separates offer a take on mix-and-match maximalism for all ages.
“We’re really lucky because print and color photographs generally very well and it pops off the page. I think it’s very difficult to sell a black shirt and black pants unless you really have a selling proposition,” she said.
While Parisian style is not particularly known for its bright colors, the brand has done well in the market, Martin said.
“We’ve had so much wonderful feedback from the French customer, I was shocked,” she said. The brand entered France early in its evolution, in 2016. Its positioning as 100 percent Made in Italy, and its association with the same factories that produce for luxury brands, put it at an advantage. “We’re recognized as that luxury product, without that shock sticker price,” Martin said.
While the brand’s origins are direct-to-consumer, it has been rapidly expanding its retail footprint. It opened a shop-in-shop inside T Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice last September, which like Samaritaine Paris is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s DFS subsidiary.
La DoubleJ has previously held pop-ups in Paris, but this is its first permanent location.
The dedicated shop-in-shop allows the brand to play dress up with its space. “Then you can really present to the customer with your final vision, and that’s really helpful for someone like me that works with a lot of print because sometimes it can end up like a real car crash,” she joked. The space sticks with solid but boldly colored walls as a canvas to showcase the prints.
La DoubleJ opened another shop-in-shop in Algarve, Portugal, in July, with the next set for Spain. It continues to operate two standalone stores in Milan and Taormina, Italy.
Named “Eden,” the new capsule collection is the latest collaboration for the brand. Martin enlisted Pigault and Totire after the three connected at a brand presentation in Milan. Martin had long been friends with Pigault; she brought along stylist Totire.
They bonded over jeans. Thus, the original iteration was to do a few denim pieces together, but the creative trio expanded into the idea of the ideal trouser, adding some sexy boho to pieces once the creative juices started to flow.
The results is a mix of vintage and newly designed prints with retro roots, and features items such as a tunic that can be a top or worn alone as a minidress.
Martin said the collaboration approach is partially in response to customer requests such as a sexier take on items, or proportions different from her usual tall silhouette, so she’s happy to bring a new design perspective.
“These girls, they just have that kind of — what do you call it — a magnetism when they’re wearing clothes,” she said. Perhaps that very French je ne sais quoi.
The collection will be exclusive to Samaritaine Paris.
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