Maybe the solution to a summer dressing doldrum is an apron
Welcome to Cafe Leandra x La Double J: the capsule collection
If you’re reading this, thank you! It indicates that you opened this e-mail instead of relegating it to trash even though I already sent you one today. I’m back because of a collab that launched this morning between La Double J and me, the (aspiring) human concept store.
It all really started two years ago in the spring when I went to a lunch to celebrate the launch a partnership between Laduree and La Double J where the waiters on staff were wearing mint-green aprons that LDJ had designed for them.
I told JJ (as in, the Jx2 that is in the brand name) that she should make apron dresses for the rest of us. To this, she answered, “Why don’t we do it as a collaboration?” which prompted my responding that if we were to do that, we should make them brocade with a dramatic trim. And add matching pants. Now ~27 months later,
Here we are!
But we didn’t stop at one set —
What about those of us who prefer tops to dresses, cotton to brocade? Who want to have something extraordinary to wear when they go out to the market?
And because it’s a high summer (that’s been a drag to dress for) — some linen too:
But not the kind that creases when you so much as look at it. The kind that can hold its own through a two-hour lunch while you’re seated outside on a 90-degree day.
These are the kinds of clothes I want to wear when it’s too sticky for clothes and yet the relentless desire to look put together (but really to feel special) persists. It’s a tall order, but incidentally, also one that is achievable.
Around the same time that JJ and I started talking about the possibility of this collab, I’d recently connected with a Milan-based organization that had reached out to me on Instagram called Coopertiva Alice. The Coop’s mission is to facilitate and support the process of rehabilitation for incarcerated women in Italy and the way they work is by teaching the inmates at San Vittore prisons (who become members of Coop Alice) to sew, thus giving them an opportunity to work and earn a wage while they’re completing their sentences.
When JJ confirmed she was serious about letting me do weird things to her signature aprons, I suggested we work with Coop Alice to have their seamstresses make our garments. And as fate/divine timing would have it, she and someone from the Coop had already connected on a separate note and were trying to figure out what kind of project they could work on together.
And so once again, 27 months later, here we are.
This will sound redundant if you read the captions, but in case you don’t: I’ve been wearing the linen dress like hell. It makes me feel like an Italian matriarch, esp while I’m eating a dinner of brown rice and tomatoes soaked in olive oil and salt (an actual meal JJ ordered from a restaurant in Milan when I was there a couple of months ago to visit the Coop and meet the seamstresses).
Have also been wearing the cotton top as a sort of summer staple —
It’s great with its own pants, but also the bomb with a pair of white cotton pajama pants like these.
The brocade set meanwhile will feature prominently in my personal holiday dressing lookbook.
This has to be one of the more rewarding projects I’ve worked on recently — they have all been so much damn fun but with this one in particular, I am reminded of the power of pursuing purpose and making commitments — of working towards something as part of a commitment to seizing a second chance. Doing it can be the difference between feeling full and empty, hopeful and hopeless, helped and helpless. Of feeling cared for and left behind. There’s something in there, I think, for all of us.