Previously a fashion journalist at Wallpaper and WSJ Magazine, Milan-based American icon JJ Martin founded her thriving online brand La DoubleJ in 2015, which now has a physical home in Milan, selling vintage clothing and jewellery and celebrating Italian femininity and Milanese style. “I started the website almost as a hobby, focusing on the things that I truly loved - vintage products, Italian women, traditions and bright, fun colour,” says Martin.
“I found it very liberating to shoot the images how I wanted and to just write about the people and the things that inspired me as I had spent 15 years being told what to write and how. I realised it was so important to follow my own heart and stomach because this, in turn, created something that really resonated with myself and consequently, other women.” La DoubleJ’s Milan boutique, situated in Piazza Arcole, started small and flourished into one of the most famed fashion stops in Italy.
A view of the collection Housewives 4. Placemat set of 2 Confetti blu; Rainbow Glasses; Dessert Plate set of 2 Wildbird giallo/blu; Dinner Napkin set Mexico riga
Styling by Isil Gun; Photography by Barbara Franzò
Renowned for pops of vibrant colours, patterns and prints, the style of the brand has been inspired by the emotion of joy and has given Martin the title of ‘queen of prints’. “I’ve been crazy about vintage clothing and prints since the late 90s when I lived in New York and used to frequently visit the Chelsea flea market. I’ve always been someone who has loved bright colour and bold patterns so the clothes I picked always had those attributes,” she shares. “The website itself was designed in a similar way and now, the new products we make have the same joyful, upbeat mood.”
Martin believes that colour has a very important role to play in her work and through her brand, she hopes to share that with the world. “You will always notice people smiling when they see you wearing La DoubleJ or having it laid on your table,” she says. “And you will feel good too. This is absolutely intentional.”
Housewives 4, Dessert Plates set of 2 Wildbird rosso/bianco; Rainbow glasses; Tablecloth Wildbird viola; Dinner napkin set Margherita viola
Photography by Henrik Blomqvist and barbara franzo. Styling by Molly Molloy and isil gun
In just a few years, La DoubleJ transformed from an e-commerce site into a ready-to-wear brand and most recently, a high-end home décor brand. At first, the website sold vintage clothing and jewellery, most of which Martin had collected herself. “But it became very difficult to constantly source vintage pieces so I randomly created one new dress using six vintage prints I found in a silk archive in Lake Como,” she shares. “We launched the dress with Matches Fashion in London and suddenly, everyone started asking about it and wanting more products from us.”
With time, she began adding new items, from skirts and shirts to evening wear and swim wear, to eventually homeware including plates, table linens, bed linens, cushions and Murano glasses. “Suddenly, I had a whole lifestyle brand and definitely needed to leave my life of writing behind,” she smiles. “We have stayed very focused on Italy, the chic Italian women who live here and the incredible artisans who handcraft our products.”
Amphora Vase Colombo nero from Housewives 4
The homeware line was first presented at the Salone del Mobile in 2017. “Like all things at La DoubleJ, it wasn’t much of a logical decision. It didn’t come from the head, it just felt right,” she expresses. “It aligned with everything else we were doing. I was obsessed with having dinner parties and was always using vintage plates and mix and matching patterns so I thought, why don’t we take these great prints from the clothes and throw them on the table?” The very first pieces the homeware line introduced were porcelain plates and table linens, with the aim of creating a seamless synergy with the fashion line in a bold and playful way.
Inspired by the fairy tale, the latest plates featured in the collection have the whimsical theme of ‘print-cess and the Pea’. “Back then, there was no one really doing fun printed plates and no one doing fun printed sheets - certainly no one doing them in the high-end luxury or an all made-in-Italy space.” Another strong inspiration for the playful prints is the jovial spirit of Italy.
After Party Dress, Leopard
“The Italians are such a source of inspiration because they are so obsessed with quality and beauty but at the same time, they are so easy going and relaxed,” says Martin. “I love how they work really hard and rest really hard.” All collections are made in Italy. “It feels like my responsibility to support the Italians who have given me so much over the last 18 years and to do something worthwhile even if it means making less money.”
In November, in collaboration with Matches Fashion, the brand is set to launch a Goddess collection in London, dedicated to the Greek goddesses of ancient mythology. “[We] will shine a light on why these figures are so important as female archetypes,” she says. In addition, La DoubleJ will unveil brand new handbags and jewellery. “There is more to come for us in this space for sure, so stay tuned.” ladoublej.com
From the Fall 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors