Martin, a native Los Angeleno, worked in advertising before taking on a marketing role at Calvin Klein. She then moved to Milan for love, where she has been working as an editor for various publications since 2001. Now she heads up LaDoubleJ.com, a shoppable website formal dress shops melbourne where Martin scours her adopted hometown for the best vintage and new clothing and accessories. Her good taste doesn’t stop there; Martin has just launched a range of long silk T-shirt dresses, her first foray into design, using archival prints from Italian textile company Mantero. Unsurprisingly, the dresses are already street style bait. Here, Martin shares her thoughts on the circus outside fashion shows and how to shop for vintage.
Where did the idea for LaDoubleJ come from?
“The site is a mix of my twin passions – vintage and Milan. I love both and both are a bit misunderstood. Over the past 14 years I have come to finally understand and love the city and I wanted to really shine the light on all the incredible people, places and things that I have discovered here as a fashion and design journalist. I got tired of everyone telling me that Milan was just a grey city that only came to life twice a year (for fashion weeks) because it is so much more. What really kicked me into gear to get things up and running was when I discovered a vintage dealer who was sitting on top of the entire contents of Ugo Correani’s old atelier in Milan. This was the perfect example of how something incredible (Correani was an amazing costume jeweller who worked for Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino and Gianni Versace in the 70s and 80s) was hidden away. What we’re trying to do at LaDoubleJ.com is to bring you a kick-ass vintage edit inspired by a city that is super and totally underappreciated.”
What are your thoughts on street style? Has it become a ‘circus’?
“I’m currently in Milan for the shows and I have to say it’s gotten really crazy. Who are these girls who walk back and forth 100 times in front of the show for photographers? They don’t even have tickets to the show they are stalking. It’s bizarre.”
Do you dress differently for fashion week than at other times of the year?
“No. I always dress the same whether I’m working, or it is fashion week or the weekend or morning or not. My style is always the same.”
What is your most treasured vintage possession?
“My Ugo Correani black and gold enamel bib necklace designed for Gianni Versace in the 1990s that my husband found and gifted to me when I decided to launch the LaDoubleJ.com.”
What are common mistakes people make when buying vintage?
“Never go vintage shopping with a to-do list because the fact is, you’ll never find what you want. Leave it up to the vintage gods and fate to be your guide (or of course, if you want it to be super easy just head to LaDoubleJ.com where we’ve done the dirty work for you!) Keep an open mind and remember that the beauty of vintage is that most of the time there is just one size, and it may have a little tear or stain here and there but that is all part of the story and what makes it unique. And if it doesn’t fit how you want it, take it to your tailor!
When I am scouring a vintage shop, it’s all about touching the clothes, feeling the incredible materials, and putting them on to see how they feel against the skin, how they sound when you walk and swirl and dance. Of course there is a lot of “vintage education” that one can get by reading books and visiting the archives of a designer and looking at old copies of fashion books and magazines. But most of what I have learned is because I’ve woken up early for that antique flea market in a small town, or making a point to visit an important vintage shop in another.”
How did you decide on the formal dress shops parramatta as the silhouette for this capsule collection?
“The idea was to create a seasonless wardrobe staple that would look great on every woman who wears it. The long T-shirt silhouette – crew neck, short sleeves, slim shoulders and an A-line that falls to the ground – is just so comfortable and doesn’t hug any of the problem areas (i.e. the stomach, hips and backside). The dress is crafted from a sturdy, beautiful silk twill which gives it a sophisticated, polished edge, while the prints are all vibrant and feminine. For me, it’s a total fashion no-brainer. We were lucky that Matchesfashion saw the potential in the project too (and agreed that it’s a must-have silhouette) and wanted to partner with us.”
How did you narrow down the Mantero archives into eight prints?
“We went to Mantero’s factory headquarters in Lake Como and literally dove into their enormous archives. They have thousands of prints, so it took us awhile to weed through all of the material. The ones we picked all fit in with the very specific language of LaDoubleJ.com – that is, they were bright, graphic and punchy prints that are all traffic stoppers and conversation starters, which in my opinion are really the best kind of patterns. We also chose one black and white version…. for all of my minimalist friends and aptly called Minimale.”
What are your tips for styling vintage with new pieces?
“I never wear vintage head-to-toe. It’s important to always mix the old with the new. Shoes are the most important. To avoid looking like a granny (which can be the risk when you wear head-to-toe vintage) I always suggest wearing new shoes.”
How do you choose what to wear in the morning?
“Pure instinct and mood.”
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
“I try to get up early and do some yoga and meditation. Then it’s cappuccino time.”
Do you prefer to be over-dressed or under-dressed?
“Over-dressed! I’m a total maximalist so more is always more. In a city like Milan there is no such thing as under-dressed. Even women leaving the gym (the rare breed that even goes to a gym) look like they just came from a designer’s showroom, with perfect clothes and hair to boot. Sweatpants are totally taboo here.”
Heels or flats?
“Definitely flats. Or flat-forms. I’m always on the go, dashing around town in my vintage Fiat 500, so heels just do not work. Besides, the LaDoubleJ girl prefers flats to heels nine times out of 10.”
Which is your favourite city in the world for vintage shopping?
“Los Angeles or Miami. I go to LA, where I’m from, every summer and I always go to the Rose Bowl flea market.”
What is currently on your wish list?
“I would love a trip to Nepal or a yoga meditation retreat in India. Given how busy we are at LaDoubleJ, that may not happen anytime soon – we have new silhouettes and prints coming out for our LaDoubleJ Editions project with Mantero in the coming months so things are super busy… but very exciting!”