How the Elegant Emporium was Born
[dropcap letter=”L”]ike most captivating creatures, Jade Lai is multifaceted. It comes as no surprise that the architecture-student-turned graphic-designer with a fondness for textiles has channeled all that interdisciplinary expertise to explore entrepreneurial pursuits. Creatures of Comfort, Lai’s brainchild, is a thoughtful emporium of elevated design. With its inaugural storefront on Melrose, its second act nestled in SoHo, and a successful in-house line, it’s clear that this Jill of all trades has found her niche.
In fact, one could argue that Lai opened a retail space in West Hollywood as an avenue to explore her catalog of curiosities. Creatures of Comfort is filled to the brim (presumably panama, for summer) with clothing, accessories, jewelry, and books, and topped off by a clever selection of home items.
The alchemy behind Lai’s knack for cultivating talent is a mix of an uncanny ability to edit, her discerning eye, and affinity for collaboration. Although she had always planned on carrying clothes, fashion was never Jade’s M.O. It wasn’t long, though, before her craving for intelligent design and the lifestyle it provided began affecting Creature’s merchandising— in the best way possible.
Quickly after it’s conception, the store gained a reputation on both coasts for discovering emerging fashion designers like Rachel Comey, Bernhard Willhelm, and Christian Wijnants. In 2008, Lai added a Creatures of Comfort collection to the roster. Retro- inspired, drapey, sheer basics and smartly tailored slacks are all encompassed within an effortless pallet of earthy neutrals. Each piece is chic, wearable, poised, and able to breathe the same air as its heavy-hitting contemporaries sharing the same retail environment.
Unsurprisingly, Lai’s muses span far past sartorial boundaries. She names her most potent inspirations to be architects Pierre Koenig and Rudolph Schindler, contemporary painter Judith Seng, photographer Ann Woo, and iconic fashion designer Issey Miyake. So how do modern architecture and contemporary photography translate into a ready-to- wear identity? Decisive lines, subtle hues, and a strong undercurrent of utility are ever-present throughout each of Lai’s collections.
Though she is bicoastal these days, a California state-of-mind has remained at the crux of Lai’s vision. Her favorite part about LA? “Space and attitude. I miss my friends, the food, and the sunshine most when I’m gone. But I really don’t miss driving, that is for sure.”
text ERIN DENNISON
photo JUSTIN CAMPBELL