She’s the designer with a cult brand that’s all about living like an Italian and la dolce vita.
Originally hailing from Los Angeles, JJ Martin, founder of La DoubleJ, has lived in Milan for the last 18 years and set up her multi-tasking Milanese brand with clothes and homeware in vintage-inspired prints made in Italy.
If you love unashamed maximalism, you’ll adore La DoubleJ’s aesthetic. “I started making new clothes and homeware by collaborating with historical Italian companies. At first I used only vintage prints but now we’re big enough that we design our own prints, patterns and embroideries. It’s a whole world of optimistic colour and print,” JJ says.
She describes travel as an “escape from my day-to-day and a return to either family (in Los Angeles), or heart-breaking beauty (Bali or Sicily).” So how does a fashion designer like to vacation? From Venetian velvet slippers to Qi Gong masters, we delve into the suitcase psyche of JJ Martin…
What’s the first trip you remember taking?
My family would pack up our Suburban SUV and drive eight hours from Los Angeles to Cobb Mountain, a mountain range north of Napa Valley where we had a cabin in the woods. We’d sleep on an outdoor deck, go fishing, pick blackberries and go to bingo at the local parlour hall. It was a long drive – and very crowded in the car with the dog and all of our stuff for three weeks – but worth it.
What’s been your favourite vacation and why?
Recently, I have been so happy to go to Bali – I’ve visited three times in five months. I love to go on vacations where I get immersed into the local way of life and don’t feel like a tourist. I can’t stand feeling like a tourist, standing around, wondering where to go. In Bali, I visit my Qi Gong master and stay on his compound in the middle of the jungle.
Where or what is your escape?
16th century Sicilian Baroque churches in Scicli. It’s a very small town on the eastern coast and I just love to park myself under the painted ceilings while no one else is in the church and breathe in the art, creativity and spirituality. No priests necessary!
Do you get away often?
It’s easy to make weekend trips in Milan. In the winter months I usually go up to Engadin, the valley where St. Moritz is, and in the summer I have a routine of visiting friends in Puglia, Sicily and Capri.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your travels?
Be open-minded and go with the flow. If you start to over-program or try to control things that happen you’ll block the magic from unfolding.
Where would you travel with friends?
Anywhere! I don’t think there are places for friends and not for friends.
What’s your idea of a luxury holiday?
Anywhere where I don’t have to ever wait in line, cook food, deal with logistics, or pack my bag more than once. I need a beautiful view and an inspiring interior – even if it’s very simple.
Where do you get holiday inspiration from?
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
Pema Chödrön (American Tibetan Buddhist). I’d like to practice Tonglen meditation with her.
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How do you usually recover from jet-lag?
I use these Australian bush flower drops called Travel Essence – they’re all-natural and awesome.
Your flight’s delayed an hour and your phone’s out of battery. How do you pass the time?
Buying a new charger for my phone!
Ultimate plane outfit?
A ‘ciao’ tee that Staci Woo from Woo in LA made me for my birthday and Venetian velvet slippers to give my outfit a hit of colour.
What’s your favourite hotel?
I love the Aman Amangiri in Utah. I just love feeling so immersed in the rocks and surrounding nature – it’s such a gorgeous property. And I love the nearby cave.
Singapore Airlines is really nice and so is Qatar Airlines. I find Doha airport amazing for layovers.
I want to take a trip to India and Egypt.
What are your must-have suitcase picks?
I love an Away suitcase, either the mini or maxi, because they’re so practical and light. I’ll always pack the Jennifer Jane dress from La DoubleJ – as comfortable for the plane as it is for the beach. And my Celine sunglasses – I found a dark red pair that seem to go with absolutely everything. I love dōTERRA essential oils; Lavender for the plane, and ‘Cheer’ I use daily.
First thing that comes to your mind
Your hand-luggage essential?
La DoubleJ pouches for make-up, plugs, passport, etc.
Packing: roll or fold?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
It’s the only time I ever watch movies. So relaxing!
Holiday tipple of choice?
Bucket list top destination?
Egypt – on one of those amazing river boats.
Best shopping gem found abroad?
Native American drums from Utah.
Beach or City?
Ultimate holiday treat?
A two-hour Thai massage.