JJ Martin has been living in Italy for 21 years, but its effusive beauty still isn’t lost on her; it can activate a bounty of images, feelings and perceptions. Despite her intensive traveling across the country, there are still so many surprises and discoveries to be made. “Recently I went to Naples for the first time,” she said at the store presentation of LDJ’s spring collection. “I was flabbergasted. I loved it so much, it’s an insanely gorgeous place.”
To put it into LDJ parlance, Naples is a city with an extremely intense high-vibrational energy—it makes for an over-the-top experience in many ways. No wonder it resonated with Martin’s equally high octane vitality: “I’m just obsessed,” she said. “I’ve also spent so much time in Ischia, the Amalfi coast, Capri, so I wanted to transfer that gorgeous Southern Italy opulent spirit and intensity into the collection.”
As always there was plenty to like chez la JJ; every season there’s no shortage of ebullient, effervescent propositions sprinkled with joie de vivre and sense of humor. The ubiquitous ’90s minimalism doesn’t do it for Martin, who’s unfazed by trends and follows her own beat. For spring there were lots of new prints inspired by traditional Neapolitan or Caprese tiles, or by bits of decorations found in historical sites she has visited around Milan collaged into new patterns.
The offer of solid colors was expanded; the introduction of white lace looked fresh, as in a sinuous, gently body skimming dress with long bell sleeves which made for a covetable piece. More textured surfaces gave LDJ’s best selling shapes a new attractive look; pieces were often reversible; smart practical details were user-friendly the way only a woman designer can come up with. An elasticated band was placed at the open back of a printed cotton slim-fitting dress to conceal the bra strap; a corset was built into a sweeping off the shoulder long dress in lamé fil coupé so it doesn’t fall down.
The collection had a younger feel, while keeping LDJ’s full-on intensity. The Neapolitan inspiration didn’t translate literally into the collection, as it was more about a feel of opulence and richness. “Naples for me is a manifestation of Italian exuberance; everything Italy is known for: the food, the colors, the energy. The chaos—which is really headsmashingly maddening—is amplified in Naples,” offered Martin. “I am an amplified person, so I love being in intense places. Everything is sort of dialed up, I loved that. And I’ve had the best pizza of my life.”