J.J. Martin is the Founder and Chief Creative & Spiritual Officer of La DoubleJ, a heart-first fashion and homeware label founded in 2015 that celebrates the best of made-in-Italy craftsmanship delivered with a maximalist wink from its home in Milan.
How would you describe Italy today in very few words?
For me, beyond its obvious astonishing beauty, Italy is a constant lesson in the art of slowing down, going with the flow, and living with unadulterated exuberance, individuality, and joy.
At first, I moved here for love – I know, so cliché. And then it became a source of irritation and frustration (a journey I describe in my new book “Mamma Milano”), before finally becoming a source of acceptance, surrender and a full fledged love affair where all of my creations from a career to friendships have blossomed. Now it’s home and now its home.
A stolen secret?
Basilica di San Vittore al Corpo. It’s this totally unassuming simple church from the outside, but inside has one of my favourite ceiling naves in the city. It looks like an embroidered jewel.
An unmissable day trip?
Venice – one of my favourite cities in Italy, and the world. I’m so lucky that it’s just a train-ride away from us in Milan so I can hop over for endless inspiration (and to visit our glassware artisans at Salviati). One of the great things about living in Milan is that you have endless day trip possibilities, it’s remarkably well positioned.
The best time of day?
Morning. When I’m home in Milan I do my daily practice and invocations in my meditation room in my apartment. My friend, the artist Jay Lohmann painted these gold stars on my ceiling so it looks like ceiling of the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia in Ravenna.
A relaxing moment?
Standing under the waterfall at the Cascata Nesso in Lake Como.
A special experience?
Walking to the top of the Duomo.
The essence of Milan?
Through my work as a journalist I learned the true essence of Milan which is the remarkable family of creatives here, from local artisans to high end architects to fashion designers. Even the sciure, the elite housewives of Milan, are incredibly creative in the way they decorate, the way they set their tables. Everyone has this sense of style built into their DNA here, but they’re real creatives as well.
That memorable evening?
There’s almost always a beautiful show happening at La Scala Theatre – I’d recommend drinks beforehand at the beautiful courtyard in the Portrait Hotel, before heading to the theatre for an opera or ballet. Then a late dinner at Cracco, after which you have to head up to one of the balconies upstairs which looks out over the entire Galleria Vittore Emanuele II.
An unforgettable dish and where?
Anyone new to Milan needs to go to Bice for the Pappardelle al Telefono. It’s the most decadent and oozy mozzarella pasta you’ll have in your life.
The best Aperol Spritz in town is at Bar Basso served in these enormous chalices. It’s almost medieval how big they are.
The hotel of the heart?
Passalacqua on Lake Como. We designed the entire pool and lounge area in LDJ prints and custom patterns, along with all of our glasses, homewares and cushions. It’s like this explosion of joy and modern playfulness in an otherwise very classically Italian villa. It’s totally beautiful.
What to pack for the weekend?
I always make sure to pack a silk LDJ set – like the Palazzo Pants or Drawstring Skirt with a Foulard Shirt. They pack down into next to nothing and never wrinkle, I’ve no idea how. I’ll also bring something easy but elegant for a night out like a Long Camerino Dress or Swing Dress which I’ll layer under one of our jean jackets, and one flat sandal that can go from day to night. Oh, and sunglasses. In Italy, always sunglasses.
I love the beautifully wrapped chocolates from Pasticceria Marchesi, or the Panettone from Pasticceria Cucchi, particularly around the holidays. But if you really want to transport yourself back to Milan in a second, I’d say our Milan candle from our Scents From the Motherland Collection is a must.