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JJ Martin's Guide to Infusing Your Life With Quirky, Italian Style


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JJ Martin is the former New Yorker turned Milanese tastemaker behind the chic lifestyle brand and editorial website La Double J, which she founded just a few years ago out of her love of vintage fashion, vibrant colors, and well-made objects. Since creating her line, first with an emphasis on fashion and later delving into home, she’s collaborated with a number of historic Italian companies: the silk mill Mantero for her kaleidoscopic dresses, textile producer Mascioni for linen tablecloths to match, and ceramics company Bitossi for some of the most covetable plates you may have ever seen, among others.

With such an all-encompassing brand—Vintage! An entire ready-to-wear line! Plates!—it really comes as no surprise that her next foray happens to be with one of Italy’s most iconic design companies: Kartell. “This is the first time we’ve ever partnered with an Italian company that people have heard of,” said Martin with a laugh. Inside Kartell’s Paris store on Boulevard Saint-Germain, she was celebrating the collaboration during Paris Fashion Week with a pop-up open to the public. For the occasion, the design boutique displayed inherently chic outfits with corresponding furniture from the partnership that matched La Double J’s aesthetic to a T. “Everything we do at La Double J has a vintage focus and an Italian focus,” she added. “Those are the key characteristics of the brand. So, with Kartell, I wanted to go into their archives and pick some of their most iconic pieces. What’s different with this is that they allowed me to create a whole collection rather than just do one chair, which is what they’ve done in the past. We created a whole world.”

Much like La Double J’s ‘70s inspired dresses and colorful coats with quirky mismatched printed linings, the entire collection is a visual feast for the eyes. Below, we asked Martin about her top tips for getting La Double J style in your home and in your life, since many of her tips also apply to her whimsical approach to fashion. First and foremost, she urges, “My main tip is use color liberally, and have fun.”

Indulge In Minimalism as a Maximalist

“The first tip I follow is that you have to be minimal somewhere and maximal somewhere. You have to decide. For me, the lines and the shapes of our home are very purest, clean, and minimal. That allows us to have a lot of fun with what we put into the house. For me, I couldn’t live in a baroque 17th century home and then pile on all this stuff. It would just be too much. We live in a midcentury home and then we layer on all the stuff.”

Mix and Match Prints

“In one room in our house, I have an entire wall that is covered with a printed upholstery by Stig Lindberg who is a 1940s Swedish illustrator. On top of that I have these great painting that my great-grandmother did in Los Angeles in the 1920s that are kind of a similar color palette, but crazy flowers. I like it when you can mix and match different prints but still, make it work. I think a rule for that or that is to find some kind of color theme that is similar.”

Take Baby Steps

“When it comes to decorating the house, my rule is don’t try to do it all at once—because I redecorate my apartment all the time, and I’m always changing things. That’s a very non-American approach, it’s a very Italian approach to just take it slowly and see how it goes.”

Live like an Italian

“I’ve learned a lot from the Italians, just as an approach to life and an approach to home. Italy is a very strong place where people have a strong tendency to entertain at home, whereas, I moved from New York and we never entertain at home, our apartments are so small. Here, it’s really important that you bring people to your home. I love that.”

Choose One Conversation Piece for the Table (Or, Your Outfit)

“I loved this idea of having mixed plates. There could be a very minimal table and very minimal house and then you have some fun with the prints of the porcelain plates. When people are at your house, I think plates are always a conversation piece too. I developed my own Porcelain plates based on some vintage plates I was always using as dessert plates. One was different than the other and there was always a conversation around it.”

Mix the Old with the New

“Most of the furniture in our house is vintage, with the exception of our bed. Everyone does this, but it’s just important to reference. I love mixing high and low. We have our $40 coffee tables with our Osvaldo Borsani chairs that are from the 1960s, which are extremely valuable. You just have to develop an eye, you have to go around and hunt for things. It’s not a good idea to just let your decorator go around and find stuff. In my experience, they never find the good stuff. I always find the best stuff. Go to flea markets on the weekend.”

You Might Find Your Favorite Piece in the Most Unexpected Place

“Where I travel, I go to the local flea market. I have been to the flea markets here in Paris, but I really love the flea markets in Florida. I like flea markets in weird places. That’s where you find the good stuff. You’re not really finding good stuff at Portobello anymore, because everyone knows about that. You have to go to weird places. Maybe it’s not anything famous that you’ll find, it’s just really great.”

You Don’t Need to Wait to Buy a Picasso

“I’ve never spent a lot of money on art, but it’s always something like, a photograph that someone did that I loved, or an invitation from a fashion show instead. I remember that Christian Lacroix hand-painted his invitations to a fashion show like ten years ago. So I kept it and I framed it. You don’t need to wait and buy your Picasso.”


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