San Francisco-based designer Lan Jaenicke’s collection of luxurious separates have a grace and flow to them that is magically imbued into their sartorial DNA. Her impeccably constructed pieces are classics that are meant to stand the test of time—they are “not fashion items driven by trends, but conceived from start to finish as enduring, versatile extensions of oneself.” Lan’s love of movement and ballet can be strikingly seen in each and every garment which results in pieces that dance on the wearer’s body.
Melissa: How are things different for you now during this crazy time. How have you shifted your business to accommodate this new normal?
Lan: We have definitely made a bunch of changes. We used to have a boutique where we make a lot of things. With Covid-19 our doors have been shut. The impact is the same as other boutiques on the street, but the silver lining with this was that we were able to focus on RND and so we came out with three collections during this lockdown time. This has been a good opportunity for me as a designer to revaluate what we are making, and who we are creating for. The consciousness to look at our environment as a designer and see what we can do–not bring more waste to the earth, which is a challenge a lot of producers are facing. We have been able to take a step back and rethink our strategy without creating more waste. I have always done solid palette so I thought it would be really fun to do more prints and collaborate with John Robshaw– who is a very open-minded, well-traveled, and well-seasoned individual. We are using fabric from his archive inventory that he no longer uses. We are recycling and repurposing his old material that already existed to create something beautiful and give it a new life. This was really thrilling to me as I have never done prints before. I used kimono shapes to utilize the entire fabric to wrap around so nothing is wasted.
Melissa: It is gorgeous, the prints are so simple and amazing! Your design process is unique–where do you draw your inspiration from? What other needs are you addressing beyond being mindful of waste and production?
Lan: The sustainable perspective is really important to me, whatever we use is what is already existing. Apart from cashmere and silks which are our signature fabric, I wanted to experiment with different fabrics. I am currently working with John Robshaw on a different project, carpets, which is out of the box and a ton of fun. Designers get to experiment with different materials and get creative. My main mission is to focus on re-purposing what is existing and inject these pieces into our collection. We are expanding the collection without wasting more material.
Melissa: San Francisco has very specific weather patterns. How does this go into your design? How do you choose your fabrics, so they are more well-rounded and not merely just for those who live in that microclimate?
Lan: San Francisco is interesting, we wear cashmere all year round. This morning I had a stylist reach out to me about a jacket and asked if they can layer…I said “of course!”, as this is what the pieces are intended to do. You can layer all pieces together, indoor or outdoor–whether it’s a jacket or a coat. They are all lightweight enough that you can layer on something a bit heavier duty. In LA, you can wear cashmere also because it is a very breathable piece, or silk when it is 100 degrees out. The versatility of the material is so key to the collection, and I chose cashmere for that reason. The fabric is so resilient and super breathable, and adapts to the environment, along with your body. I use 100% cashmere materials, so I do not compromise the characters of another fiber coming into this fabrication. If you mix cashmere with wool, it will not be as breathable for the user. The 100% cashmere is important as it is biodegradable, and I am very particular about this.
This has been a good opportunity for me as a designer to revaluate what we are making, and who we are creating for.
Melissa: Movement and flow are a big part of how you design. Have you always been passionate about dance? Has movement inspired your work?
Lan: Yeah! My mother is a dancer and designer, and I have always been attracted to dance and movement, it is so eloquent. On my website, every photo is a picture in motion, which highlights how these garments move. We are always in motion– so I wanted to capture the reality of how the clothes will be. I think this showcases the garment really well.
Melissa: It is absolutely gorgeous. Can you tell us about your work with the San Francisco Ballet?
Lan: It was a really fun project. I have been working with them for 4 years on their Sensorium event that promotes ballet to younger generations. Usually, a ballet-going audience is identified as an older crowd. This event was born 5 years ago, and they approached me to be the fashion designer for this performing art event. I made bedsheets and would use the live audience to drape them in my garments. This was really fun and innovative work, I would dress bodies in my pieces then and there. That was the first year, and in the second year we worked with a ballerina and while she was dancing, we would catch her shadows on this fabric, and then draw her shadow on this fabric. I would then dress one of the audience members instantly with this piece. Essentially everything was done in front of audiences, spontaneously, so they can watch how we create this work.
Melissa: Sounds incredible! What is something you always wear? What are your particulars?
Lan: I love crystals, I always have crystals on me. I have a jade bracelet on my wrist that is from my mom and it is really meaningful to me. Depending on the day I will change what crystal I will wear, as they are very important to me.
Melissa: With winter here, what is next for you and your company? What are you currently working on?
Lan: I am always creating. We are launching a collection with Repetto, the ballet shoe company. This is a dream come true–to collaborate with them, as I have been a fan of their shoes for two decades. I designed the shoe using our signature palette, a black and navy combo. We used our black ribbons to embellish this. It ties the shoe together in different ways, you can wear it as a flat or with a ribbon or bow. The idea is that it is a collaboration with the woman who is wearing it – I always keep this in mind. I always feel that it is a collaboration between the designer and who is wearing it – you can put your own twist on it.
Melissa: I can’t wait! Sounds so amazing and chic.