JJ Martin had big news today, and it wasn’t just that she’d scaled up from appointments at her Via Sant’Andrea boutique to a presentation in a remarkable decommissioned church. Martin has named Maureen Chiquet, the former CEO of Chanel, as the chairman of her growing brand. It’s a significant appointment, indicative of La DoubleJ’s potential for growth.
Not that Martin has had any trouble with attracting an ardent customer base. So clear is her vision, that the La DoubleJ offerings have grown well beyond the ready-to-wear she started with to include shoes, accessories, and homeware. A line of wallpaper is next on the agenda.
The fall collection was inspired by a pair of trips Martin took to Egypt last year—not the “luxury trips on a beautiful sailboat that everybody’s taking,” but a “tough, nitty gritty, going into temples in pitch black with flashlights to replicate many of the ancient Egyptian rituals, ceremonies, and meditation techniques” experience. She spoke of Egypt’s lay lines, which are earth’s equivalent of the human body’s meridians, “places of volcanic eruptions of energy.” Martin is nothing if not earnest; the brand lives up to its “raise your vibration” slogan. Pure and simple, though, the country is a visual delight, and Egyptian motifs of all kinds decorated the clothes. Scarabs multiply across a blazer and A-line mini, and bast cats pose playfully on a jacquard trench. The underside of the collar on a silk twill shirt was lined with ankhs, and the precise blue of one of the few remaining temples with paint still on the walls decorated a printed jersey dress. The ready-to-wear is expanding: Martin has added denim to the offering; not your basic five pockets, but studded jackets and jeans dyed in LDJ patterns. She’s also amped up her knits.
“We really connected on this idea of raising your vibration,” Chiquet said at the presentation. “It’s rare to find a brand that actually has a mission and also makes beautiful products, and I love the combination, the intersection, of those two things.” Few designers have woven their spiritual beliefs more effortlessly into their label’s DNA. Chiquet seems to understand—and endorse—the power in that. Martin is a modern Milan success story, but where she and Chiquet could take the company next—La DoubleJ–branded guided retreats, perhaps?—is uncharted territory.