CJ Laing has been on my radar for quite some time. I’m hoping I can make a visit to one of the boutiques soon – although, their online store is quite nice. The mix of jewelry, clothing, and accessories they offer is always unique and I love the fresh prints of their designs. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about the brand with me today and specifically, the Palm Beach boutique!
N/S: How did your store come to be?
CJ Laing: CJ Laing was founded by Jack Laing in 2000. He studied Fashion Design at Pratt Institute and began his career with Ralph Lauren. CJ Laing began as a lifestyle collection for women, men and children, and over the years we have had stores in a number of East Coast resort towns, including Nantucket, Southampton and Palm Beach. In 2008 Ali Russell joined the business and the line evolved into what you see today.
N/S: How would you describe the style and aesthetic of your store?
CJ L: Clean, open, breezy,highly edited, always with fresh flowers and great music.
N/S: Who wears CJ Laing pieces?
CJ L: Our clients have sophisticated taste, are well traveled, and reject mass-appeal fashion. They have a keen eye for great quality and unique fabrics and use of color that is timeless and beyond trend. They’re worldly, chic, smart, fun and relaxed in their personal style. They seek out what is special and hard to find.
N/S: What are you most excited about when it comes to new arrivals for spring and summer?
CJ L: We’re finding a softer range of color is what feels new this year. It’s a great moment for pale lilac, pale peach and muted green and grey shades. Our new collection includes a simple sleeveless shift dress that we’ve done in two signature silk prints as well as a wonderful crisp geometric moroccan lace in either black or white with micro pom pom fringe at the bottom. The store is also packed with our exclusive finds from Europe – luxe french terry cover-ups, beaded dip-dyed linen floor length kaftans, and tunics in pale strawberry with taupe or washed tones of blue, irish linen shirts and dresses in our own signature color range, even genuine silk and cotton ikat shorts that zip up the back and make your legs look a mile long.
spring 2014 prints
N/S: What clothing and jewelry lines do you carry?
CJ L: In addition to our own line, we have exclusives with British designer Tashia London, made in Beirut CALM-NYC, Italian Laura Conti, and Sarah Goodbody of London. We offer fabulous mexican rosary style necklaces and agates on leather by Amanda Marcucci (also from London), semi precious necklaces, earrings and cuffs by Wendy Mink, and cool over-size Swarovski crystal on chains by Atlanta-based designer L-George. We also carry a range of inexpensive boho earrings and necklaces that work really well as travel jewelry and complement the clothes, and of course, tassel necklaces are having a big moment.
N/S: Let’s talk about the tassel jewelry! Who makes these pieces and what would you wear them with?
CJ L: We have always been mad for tassels and this year we offer some fabulous options – everything from delicate mercury bead string bracelets with tassel ends ($25) and bright Mala bead necklaces with tassels hanging from silver buddha heads ($45), neon tassels with wooden beads, tonal versions in deep grey or black crystal beads with matching tassels – they’re all great and make fun gifts. We show them with beach cover-ups and bikinis or to add a pop of color to our linen shirts and day dresses. But for real WOW – our clients have gone absolutely crazy for the extraordinary tassel necklaces and bracelets made by French designer, Stephanie Brown. Stephanie travels the globe collecting the most beautiful one-of-a-kind statement-making beads. She pairs them with long strands of semi-precious beads and spacers that she creates in unusually rich color combinations and then finishes each piece with one of her own hand-made 800 strand pure silk tassels. There’s no mistaking the quality here, these necklaces are luxe. At first we were slightly concerned about sticker shock, but now we’re mostly concerned with keeping up with demand. We show Stephanie Brown tassel necklaces with everything – they look astounding with our signature ikat coats, as well as with long silk kaftans, our shift dresses, they’d be great with a cashmere sweater, even a tee shirt ~ and we love mixing unusual color combintions – Right now in our window we’re showing our graphic greek key print silk shift dress with a sterling silver beaded Stephanie Brown necklace featuring a long bright lemon yellow tassel – we think it’s super chic.
necklaces by French designer Stephanie Brown
shorts at CJ Laing
N/S: What are some of your favorite items for spring vacations or winter warm weather travel plans?
CJ L: For warm weather travel, everyone seems to agree that one of our signature ikat coats is an essential piece that will serve a multitude of uses (and a recent editors pick for Town & Country). Wear one over white jeans out to dinner, over a silk dress or cigarette pants for cocktails or for cool evenings. Pack a little pair of ikat shorts for running into town, one of Sarah Goodbody’s sundresses for strolling, a CJ Laingsilk blouse for dinner with a pair of our cigarette pants, a CALM-NYC kaftan for the beach, and a must-have gorgeous embroidered Tashia London tunic. Add a Stephanie Brown necklace and wear it with everything!
N/S: Who are your own style inspirations?
CJ L: We’re both chameleons – we love travel and history and art – our inspiration is ever-evolving and we don’t know where it’s coming from next. Because our own collection is made for us in our workroom in New York it allows us design in very small editions and we can easily just make three or four of one thing and then go on to the next design. We both keep mood boards in our offices and are keen observers of our environment. Living in Palm Beach, there’s certainly no shortage of inspiration from the sea and sky, mediterranean architecture and tilework, wild green parrots, jasmine covered walls, fresh fruits, endless varieties of orchids – it’s an amazing place to call home.
N/S: What are your favorite things about Palm Beach? Your favorite places?
CJ L: The subtropical climate is a given, we thrive in the warm weather, but actually also love the crazy tropical storms that blow through. Many people don’t realize that Palm Beach is an island and like any island it has it’s fill of colorful characters, local lore, scandal and intrigue, as well as a close knit community with a shared interest in preserving this tropical paradise. We also have a lot of wonderful things to see and do here – the Society of the Four Arts offers world class lectures and exhibitions and has an extraordinary tropical garden which we stroll through regularly. We love the bike trail that follows along the lagoon side of the island. We love that we have a great airport five minutes from the beach that allows for frequent travel. And it’s fun living somewhere that other people find they’re way to on vacation, we bump into old friends unexpectedly all the time. Palm Beach also has great restaurants and shopping and attracts interesting and influential visitors and new residents from around the world.
New cross stitch dress at CJ Laing
N/S: Where do you find all of the beautiful things from your store?
CJ L: Mostly from traveling and from personal introductions. Several times we’ve found things we’ve admired on someone walking in the door. In a store like ours, where every single piece is unique and has to work on its own and as part of the whole – when we add a new designer or a new jewelry line its a careful decision. While it’s possible to find exciting things at the trade shows, it’s just never been our style. We enjoy the hunt and a buying trip its a good excuse to go somewhere interesting. There are so many incredible things available in this world, we just don’t understand the cookie-cutter buying style we see in so many other stores.
N/S: What are some plans or exciting things going on with your store for 2014?
CJ L: Well we just moved into our new Palm Beach store which was a lot of work and we’re thrilled with it. We have a fabulous location in historic Via Mizner and even a private garden courtyard for entertaining and special events. At the moment we’re exploring options for next summer’s pop-up store, as well as further developing our menswear line which now includes linen shirts in our own range of unique custom colors, bermuda shorts in pinwale corduroy, as well as ikat shorts for men. We’re excited about the new samples we just received for a relaxed fit men’s linen jacket which everyone’s been asking us to add. and men’s linen shorts. And just this year we’ve gotten back into a wholesale collection which for now focuses on those iconic embroidered D-ring belts Jack started with all those years ago – people just never stopped asking for them, so they’re back with 17 different embroideries in stock now and six new ones coming for summer.
more lovely tassel jewelry