Globe-trotting designer and Europhile Julia Leach talks to T+L about her design inspiration.
“I’m a Midwesterner, but my upbringing was quite bohemian,” says American designer Julia Leach. “My parents, both artists, were always looking to Europe for inspiration.” Formerly the creative director for Kate Spade, Leach has spent much of her life traveling back and forth across the Atlantic, cultivating an “eye for the simple” while collecting woven baskets from the markets of France’s Dordogne region, espadrilles from Spain’s Basque country, textiles from Parma, Italy—and countless ideas for her Euro-inflected clothing and lifestyle label, Chance (chanceco.com). The brand is anchored by the timeless look of the striped marinière tee (“Pair it with jeans or heels—it can go anywhere,” she says), first adopted by the French navy in 1858 and later popularized by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, and Inès de la Fressange. From there, the line includes an array of easy tops, dresses, and swim trunks in brushed cotton; fish-shaped soaps made by hand in Chorley, England; canvas beach totes; straw sun hats; and more. The first pop-up Chance store is scheduled to surface in New York City next month, and a hotel is also on the horizon. “Whether the Ligurian, the Mediterranean, or the Tyrrhenian,” Leach says, “it’ll definitely overlook the sea.”
Corsica “I love exploring the island’s hidden, rocky coves by boat, from L’Île Rousse down to Sagone and the Lavezzi Islands.”
Denmark “The Giacometti gallery at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is amazing, and the café has lovely views of the Øresund strait.” 13 Gl. Strandvej, Humlebaek; louisiana.dk.
France On Sundays, Leach and her mother—La France Gourmande author Marolyn Charpentier—pick up their picnic needs from the outdoor market in the medieval village of Issigeac, in Dordogne.
Italy Sorrento’s Parco dei Principi, near the Bay of Naples, is “a seafaring design lover’s dream hotel.” grandhotelparcodeiprincipi.net; doubles from $148.
“With its mix of emerging designers and artisanal items from around the world, Spazio Rossana Orlandi, in Milan, is the most distinctive and visionary store I’ve discovered.” 14/16 Via Matteo Bandello; 39-02/467-4471.
Sweden “Stockholm’s P.A. & Co. is cozy, stylish, and delicious, serving traditional Swedish dishes. Their cookbook is my favorite.” 8 Riddargatan; 46-8/611-0845; dinner for two $90.