Couture handbag designer and dear friend, Jada Loveless, recently shared her amazingly coveted collection at Neiman Marcus, and I took the opportunity for an impromptu interview. I absolutely love Jada's spirit, creativity, and her absolutely beautiful treasures! Hint, hint.....with Christmas quickly approaching, this would be the perfect gift under any tree!
1. What is one thing that people might not know about you?
For the most part I'm pretty healthy - but I love to bake. I really enjoy giving homemade cakes as gifts during the holidays. Coconut Cake and Red Velvet Cake with black walnut icing are my specialities. . . . I have requests every year so I guess they're pretty good.
2. What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
That is easy, my little French bulldog, Leopold. He is an entertainer. . .if there is a bad day he will not let it end that way!
3. Past or present, who has most influenced your direction in life?
Certainly my family, especially my mother. She has been my champion and encourages me in every way.
4. Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I wish I could have met Diana Vreeland. She was such a dynamic woman and I would have loved to have spent the day with her when she was at Harper's Bazaar. That would have been an interesting time and she was always surrounded by incredible artists. You might have started the day shooting with Avedon, spent the afternoon with Coco Chanel and ended the day at a cocktail party with Cole Porter. It sounds pretty ideal.
5. What inspires your creativity?
Daydreaming. To have the time to really lose myself, whether in books, listening to music, watching films. . .that is when I find I am most creative.
6. How would you describe your personal style?
I have always enjoyed dressing up and I have collected some special pieces throughout the years. I collect clothing like some people collect art. I don't shop all of the time, I just try to invest in pieces that I know I will enjoy for years to come. I recently chaired an event and I wore a gown that I bought ten years ago. The gown is Chanel and it is beautiful - I loved it just as much today as I did when I bought it. I tend to gravitate towards classic silhouettes that are feminine and pretty. . . but I love color, and unique details; lace, feathers, hand embroideries and unusual fabrics. There are so many designer that I admire I could go on and on but some of my favorites are Oscar de la Renta, Giambattista Valli, Azzedine Alaia, Joseph Altuzarra, and I love what Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are doing at Valentino. I like to have fun with fashion but I am also very comfortable in my boyfriend jeans.
7. What is your most prized possessions?
My friends and family are the most important things in my life. But, if I had to name a possession that is dear to me, it would be my collection of quilts that my grandmother made for me. Those pieces are very special to me for sentimental reasons.
8. What do you like most about your job?
I feel fortunate to have a career that I really enjoy. I am also incredibly lucky to be able to work with some amazing craftsman here in the States. Every piece we design is hand made with a tremendous amount of care and attention to detail. From the custom colors we formulate for our exotic leathers to the custom hand cast hardware and hand selected gemstones to the interior linings - we are involved in every step. We want every bag that leaves our workroom to be a true work of art. I design pieces that I personally love and that I am proud of that I hope my clients will enjoy for many years to come. What do you like the least? When you work for yourself you have to wear many hats - sometimes too many.
9. What's in the future for you?
In addition to a busy fall, we are really excited about our new store in Nantucket which opened this past summer. Right now, we are busy getting ready to head back to the island for Holiday Stroll which is coming up the first weekend in December. We are planning a festive weekend and we are hosting a book signing for my friend, Suzanne Kasler, who designed the shop. We also have lots of plans in store for the new year. We are expanding to new domestic markets with our retail partners, as well as adding new categories to our current collection.
10. What advice would you give someone wanting to become a designer?
Surround yourself with creative people from all walks of life and try to absorb as much from them as possible. I think travel is important - travel as much and as often as you can - experiencing different cultures, places, foods, landscapes - subconsciously you put things back that you don't even realize. It may be a color from a door or a particular shade of red you remember from a painting. And be patient. Everyone's path is different and you just have to stay the course.
11. What valuable lessons have you learned along your journey as a designer?
I've learned a lot through the years and I know I have so much more to learn. In addition to wanting to design and create beautiful things, I've learned that it is just as important to become a strong business person. I've been very fortunate to have some great advisors, both friends and mentors who have been incredibly supportive. I've also had some experiences that were not so great . . . but I learned a lot from those experiences and they definitely helped me to understand what I don't want. When you start out in your career you think you know what you want to create and exactly where you want to go but the world is constantly changing. You evolve and your experiences (both good and bad) help shape the way you move forward.
12. Do you have a style icon?
I have many. . .my friends, family, clients. Ava Gardner is someone who always come to mind when I think of an iconic beauty. Of course, Audrey Hepburn was in a league of her own having such grace and style. I have always admired Coco Chanel and Diana Vreeland for being such visionaries. When I think about women today, Stephanie Seymour is incredibly stylish - always feminine and sexy, yet demure. Lee Radziwell is so elegant. Carolina Herrera, Samantha Boardman, Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg - all are beautiful and smart women who do so much to help and inspire other woman.
Jada Loveless began her career as an interior designer with Drysdale Design Associates in Washington, DC, after receiving her B.F.A. from the University of Georgia. Her appreciation and love of fashion and design led her to New York for further studies at Parsons School of Design. After working several years in the luxury sector with companies such as Celine/LVMH and Neiman Marcus, Jada launched her accessories collection in 2006.
The Jada Loveless line displays a rich backdrop of textures and shapes that combine fine leathers, textiles, and the timeless qualities of exotics such as American Alligator. Across the line you will see a nod to the classics as well as experience a modern voice that emphasizes individuality and bespoke luxury. Handcrafted in small batches by master artisans, each bag is meticulously constructed from only the highest quality materials. From rich leathers to timeless jeweled clasps, each bag leaves our workshop as a true work of art.
The Jada Loveless collection is available through select Neiman Marcus stores, Jeffrey Atlanta as well as the first Jada Loveless store, which opened in Nantucket, MA, summer 2014. The collection has been featured in Vogue, Town and Country, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD and The Atlantan, where Jada became a contributing Fashion Editor. The line has also been a red carpet favorite amongst celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Candace Bushnell and Mariska Hargitay.