She caters to celebrities and even royalty, but no one could be more low-key about it. The word “cool” was invented for designer Julia Gerard.
Although she rarely talks about her clients, Lady J has an impressive list. Everyone from Bob Dylan to Rihanna has worn her designs. She dressed Cher for the Grammys, as well as the signature piece for her Caesars Palace show. Prince, Dave Matthews, Patti Smith, Miranda Lambert, Edyta Sliwinska, Chaka Khan, Robin Thicke, Bryce Dallas Howard, Julia Delpy, Miley Cyrus and Angelina Jolie are familiar with her artistic talent. Her work has also been seen on various TV shows (think Entourage), music videos and films for over two decades.
In an eclectic neighborhood where you could stroll, we stopped into J Gerard Design Studio and Peace Gallery on Melrose, not far from La Cienega. Actor Dennis Haysbert was also visiting; he wore a J Gerard suit. She makes sure that everything feels like a second skin: “I want my clients to be comfortable.”
Whatever the fabric, much of her clothing has peace buttons or the peace sign on it. An original hippie, she incorporates her love for rock ‘n’ roll and dedication to promoting the peace movement into her work. It’s no accident that this is the go-to designer for Ringo Starr.
She looks twenty years younger than her chronological age and has the energy of three people put together, despite the fact that she requires little sleep. “I don’t like to sleep a lot. Three or four hours are cool.” Usually in jeans and her trademark glasses, her makeup and long highlighted tresses are always perfect.
Unlike designers who create from season to season, Gerard keeps clothing from four seasons, all year round. “People come here from all over the world with needs for all weather types. I suck it all up; I call myself ubiquitous. I am so starved for traveling that I live vicariously through the visitors and experience the culture through them. Europeans and Australians love this place. So do Saudis. But they are so used to perfect stores and this is anything but a store. It’s a design studio. The royalty don’t mind.”
The designer says she channels lots of ideas. “I don’t have patience to sketch; I make the first pattern. I’m an old-fashioned designer.”
If you asked her how many items she houses, she could not tell you. “My clients are addicts. They want three or four things in the same style, different colors and different fabrics. I have the entire range of sizes.”
Since she has such a wondrous client list, we asked who would be on her wish list. “I would love to make more costumes for Cher. She wore my stuff for the Inaugural Ball.”
Gerard’s designs made history at Caesars. “Twenty years ago, this would have never happened because she would have changed 20 times. She wore my outfit for three years running. The dress is on programs, cups — you name it.”
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Gerard speaks several languages. She chooses not to drive in Los Angeles and speaks to a taxi driver in Russian. There is no end to her talents, as her designs will be sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills this summer.
For more information on Julia Gerard’s Couture, visit JGerardDesignStudio.com.
Sue Facter writes about all things A-list including entertainment, travel, beauty and fashion with credits in “USA Today,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Women’s Day Australia,” as well as various sites on the web.