at Giacomo Bistrot

LaDoubleJ is an open window on the creative vision of JJ Martin, the founder of the brand, made of lively patterns and vibrant colours, such as the pink of the beetroot risotto she ordered for lunch at our restaurant. During our encounter, she told us about her job and the strong bond with spirituality, as well as sharing several anecdotes and memories related to her experience at Giacomo Milano.

Would you tell us more about your passion for vintage? When did it start and how has it changed throughout time?
I first discovered vintage when I was living in New York, in the late Nineties, and I used to go to the Chelsea Flea Market every weekend. At first I was buying everything that struck my fancy and then, when I moved to Milan, I got more serious about it, which is interesting because Italy didn’t have much of a vintage culture. There was an underground scene though. So my eye got refined, I started understating the difference in qualities, the rarity of certain pieces, certain designers, and then I started collecting. All of this became the basis of my company, LaDoubleJ.

What do you usually look for in clothing or design pieces?
At first, it’s always a colour, a pattern or an embellishment that attracts me. I like very bold pieces. I don’t believe in basic vintage.

LaDoubleJ is an open window on your way of seeing and approaching the world. When was the project born and how has it developed?
LaDoubleJ was launched in 2015, from my desire to sell vintage clothing. At that time, vintage was just shown on mannequins, it looked very dusty and kinda sad… there wasn’t any glamour of sophistication to it. That’s why I wanted to do it, I wanted to show it in a way that had never been done online before. It was kind of a hit from the very beginning. It was very joyful, playful, funny… it was very unexpected.
A year later I realised how difficult it was to source vintage pieces and that’s when I decided to make a new dress with a vintage print that I found in the Mantero Silk Archive, which became our partner. We started with a dress, then we did a shirt, a skirt, and a second dress… and in the next two or three years a whole collection blossomed. Now we have an entire empire of new fashion and homeware that is not vintage, but has that sensibility. There’s still a strong focus on colour and pattern, and we often design our own prints.

What kind of experience do you aim to convey to the people who visit your boutique?
It’s a store that doesn’t look like any other, especially since I started merging my spiritual practice into it. There are all these vintage furnitures, the windows have been decorated with themed set-ups such as star beings, spirit animals… downstairs we created a Grotta Sacra, dedicated to the divine mother, that’s filled with goddesses and where we host practices including healing and channeling sessions, meditations, and even yoga lessons every Thursday.
It doesn’t look like any other space, it doesn’t operate like any other space, it doesn’t feel like one. It’s very friendly. It’s very open. Everyone is welcome: children, babies, dogs, old people, young people… I think that’s what make it different.

How would you describe the LaDoubleJ Woman?
She is a woman who wants to embody joy. I think our clothes really transmit it and that it’s the company’s mission, to wrap the world in joy. So any woman who wants to boost and raise her vibration, any woman who wants to embrace lightness with a playful spirit is someone who becomes our customer.

How did you get closer to spirituality, implementing this aspect into both your lifestyle and job?
I’ve done yoga for 25 years, but my actual spiritual practice begun 10 years ago, when I met my first energy healer and I started working with her. During the lockdown I begun sharing it on Instagram, on my channel as well as LaDoubleJ, because I started realising that so many women were needing help in that moment. When I started talking about these principles, subjects and techniques, I found out that the same women who were buying our pieces were also interested in expanding their consciousness and learning new tips for self-development.
The activities we do in our Grotta Sacra are free, so the spiritual part of the company is a philanthropic arm. It ties in with the concept of raising your vibration. You can raise your vibration by eating well, meditating, doing yoga, or with the clothes you wear. Colours have frequency, so the ones you wear can raise your vibration too.

Colour occupies a privileged role in your creative vision. Has it always been like that? What makes you feel so connected to this element?
As a child, I was always attracted to colour and patterns. I never knew why, it was just a natural affinity. When I started working with the energy healer and understanding what its principles are, I realised that colour itself has frequency and there’s a healing energy to it. When you start learning about the chakra system, which is our energy body, you discover that chakras are all associated with different colours, so different colours work on different aspects of yourself. That was very interesting.
I love all colours, but there are certain combinations that I really respond to and there’s no logic to it. It’s literally just a semantic, intuitive response in my body of knowing what works and what doesn’t.

You’re from Los Angeles, but you’ve been living in Milan for quite some time now. What kind of relationship do you have with the city? Is there something you particularly miss about California?
After the moving process, when I finally managed to just relax and understand the rhythm and the system here, I fell in love with Milan. It’s giving me so much on a personal level, allowing me to shift my mindset, be much more present and slower. At the same time, what I love about California is that that’s where most of my health and wellness knowledge grounded and rooted. A lot of my spiritual teachers and friends live there, so I get nurtured more spiritually from Los Angeles.

Do you remember the first time you came to our restaurant? Was that a special occasion?
The first time I ever ate at Giacomo was in 2002, during Fashion Week. I was a journalist at that time and I’ll never forget that Tom Ford was having dinner over there, with a bunch of models and cool people, and I was just like “Oh my god, this place is amazing!”.

What struck you the most about the venue?
It’s just so elegant. I love the high ceilings, the beautiful dusty pastel palette… and the food is exquisite. It looks formal, but it still feels cozy and warm. You get the best of Italy in this environment. You really do.

Is there a particular anecdote, related to your experience at Giacomo, that you would like to share?
When Giacomo Bistrot opened, even though they hadn’t set up an aperitivo area, I used to go there and meet people at 7pm and do it in front of the bar. We sort of created our pop-up aperitivo, it was so chic, and we started becoming friends with the people there.
I also remember that for two years in a row, Giacomo Bistrot cooked the turkeys for my Thanksgiving party. It’s so Giacomo! I brought them to the restaurant, they roasted them, I went to pick them up and took theme to my house, because I didn’t have space in my oven. Isn’t that cute?

What have you ordered today?
I ordered a risotto with beetroot, topped with gorgonzola fondue and pecan nuts. I didn’t know it, but when the dish came, I realised it’s pink! We are definitely on the same colour frequency.

We like to think about Giacomo, and via Sottocorno in general, like a wonderful culinary living room, where people meet and naturally become friends. Have something like this ever happened to you while dining at the restaurant? What kind of encounters have you experienced?
I’ve eaten at Giacomo like five hundred times. Being in the fashion world, we probably went there three times during every Fashion Week. One time I had a wonderful lunch with Laura Sartori Rimini and, at some point, Mr. Giacomo walked in, sat down and had lunch with us. The place is very friendly and there are not many restaurants in Milan that feel that cosy.

What do you like about Giacomo that makes you come back here anytime you can?
It is consistent, offering an elevated both visual and culinary experience, but not too formal.

If you were asked to describe your experience at our restaurant with three words, what would they be?
Cosy, delicious, perfect.