On Milan's renowned Via Montenapoleone, the window display of the traditional (usually muted) Italian designer Larusmiani has been overtaken by a riotous, contemporary mesh of prints. ‘It's an eye-popping, pattern-tastic clash,’ explains the creative force behind it, our very own Italy editor-at-large, JJ Martin. Her eponymous fashion label, La Double J, has set up temporary shop at the Larusmiani location, which features an interior designed by the late David Collins, while collaborating with the Italian stalwart on a limited edition collection of A/W 2017 designs.
Initially, the two partners may seem like unlikely bedfellows. La Double J is known for its lively, maximalist edit of vintage fashion, spanning 1920s memorabilia to 1990s Gucci; whereas Larusmiani, established in 1922, has what Martin describes as a more ‘traditional’ and ‘clean’ aesthetic. But they share an unerring passion for quality and craftsmanship.
Realising this, Martin approached Larusmiani with the idea of the La Double J pop-up store. ‘Why stop there?’, they thought, subsequently introducing the idea of a design collaboration, which would feature alongside her creations. ‘I couldn't believe my luck,’ Martin explains. ‘It's been so much fun to work on.’
JJ Martin's maximalist vintage edit is interspersed with her own La Double J designs and her new collaboration with Larusmiani. Photography: Mattia Iotti
This sense of fun and frivolity permeates the collection, made up of unisex patterned silk pyjamas,and highly decorative boxer shorts. Martin's own La Double J A/W 2017 collection includes a range of vibrant kaftans and extravagant men's shirts (think Riviera beachwear meets well-heeled Milanese chic). She sourced these eclectic vintage prints from the Mantero Silk Archive in Lake Como, highlights of which include a sweeping 1960s paisley and a psychedelic 70s tessellation.
How she fits it all in, we're not quite sure. The La Double J pop-up will soon be on the move again, pitching up at Le Bon Marché in Paris next month, the next step of what Martin describes as a pop-up world tour. This global adventure ‘is a great way for people to get to know the brand,’ she explains.
It's easy to forget that the La Double J label is just one string to Martin's bow. She acknowledges how ‘surreal’ it has been having her own fashion ideas in the editorial spotlight. ‘It's fun to be on the other side,’ she offers. It's a pleasure to see her authoritative journalistic voice being channelled in a new way through these punchy prints – which speak just as loudly.