In an exclusive interview with DSCENE Magazine, editor Katarina Doric sits down with Jasmin Larian Hekmat, the visionary founder and creative director behind Cult Gaia, to talk about brand’s latest and most enchanting venture yet—a boutique on the sun-drenched shores of St. Barths. This move marks a significant milestone for the Los Angeles-based label, renowned for its vacation-ready fashion and iconic ‘Objets d’Art’ that promise to be staples in wardrobes for years to come. Opening its doors at 8 Rue du Roi Oscar II, Gustavia, the 460 sq ft store is poised to become a sanctuary for those seeking a blend of elegance, history, and artistry amidst their tropical escape.
Cult Gaia’s expansion to St. Barths is an embodiment of the brand’s manifesto to weave magic into every garment and accessory it creates. Designed by Brandi Howe and featuring art by Irene Catteneo and Jesse Groom, the store is a testament to Cult Gaia’s commitment to beauty, functionality, and timeless design. With a hand-sculpted plaster artwork inspired by the Three Graces as its centerpiece, the boutique invites visitors into a world where fashion meets art, all within the backdrop of St. Barths’ unparalleled luxury and sophistication.
What inspired you to choose St. Barths as the location for this new venture? – I went there last New Years, and I thought that it was just a magical little enclave of fashion, entertainment, and culture. Its exclusivity, with the challenge of getting there, adds to its allure. I would describe it as a magical island where mokes, yachts, the sun and all aspects of a unique lifestyle converge- making it the perfect place for Cult Gaia.
The store’s design by Brandi Howe, marked by its unique hand-sculpted plaster art inspired by the Three Graces, presents a distinct and creative aesthetic. Could you share insights into the ideas and inspirations driving this artistic direction? – We opened four locations in 2023, Melrose, CA, Soho, NY and in The Hamptons, NY, St Barths and those stores each have a very artistic and unique design theme as well. With St. Barth’s, we wanted to keep that synergy by incorporating a lot of our brand DNA. We used plaster and clay to create one stroke while keeping the space a clean sanctuary for our product which is so important to me. Each store is a reflection of the Cult Gaia ethos and when designing a store, we want to create elements in the store that will always have our customers’ eyes wandering, but also remain a timeless experience.
Cult Gaia has always been about creating ‘Objets d’Art’ that live in closets forever. How do you maintain this ethos while continually evolving the brand’s product range? – We want to create a lifestyle and one stop shop for the customer who is looking for a blend of beauty and art. We create every piece with the intention of sparking conversation as everything is created to feel one of a kind. As a brand, we are constantly engaging with our customers. The “Cult Gaia customer” is ever evolving, and we want to evolve with her.
The allure of nature and the female form has consistently served as a primary source of inspiration for me.
Can you share how the brand’s transition from accessories to a full-fledged lifestyle brand has influenced your approach to design and fashion? – It was always the intention for Cult Gaia to evolve into a lifestyle brand. When we began gaining momentum for our bags, it sparked my motivation to venture into creating clothing to see through my vision for the brands DNA. Throughout this transition, the allure of nature and the female form has consistently served as a primary source of inspiration for me.
You have described opening the store in St. Barth’s as “planting a seed of excitement in the soil of paradise.” How do you envision the Cult Gaia store enhancing the luxury and sophistication that St. Barth’s is known for? – When I shopped there, I felt like there were all the usual suspects, and then there were obviously the wonderful St Barth’s local boutiques but nothing quite like Cult Gaia. I wanted to offer a store experience that felt like you were going into a little museum with exceptionally beautiful products that evoke the same excitement you feel as when you first land in St Barth’s.
I want to put out products that deserve to be in the world. I don’t think the world needs more things, brands, or products. We want everything we make to have a purpose, and a reason.
How does Cult Gaia engage with the local communities in the areas where your stores are located, like St. Barths? – We are so lucky we get to meet the locals and build relationships with them. The locals truly helped turn my vision into a reality, and we wouldn’t have been able to create this store in 2 weeks without them.
Following the opening of stores in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and now St. Barths, what can we expect next from Cult Gaia in terms of global expansion or new collections? – I’m exploring new categories to expand the brand into and continuing to open stores in 2024. I just want to continue to create beautiful pieces, collections, and spaces that are poetic experience.
How do you see Cult Gaia evolving in the next five years, both as a brand and in its contribution to the world of fashion and art? – For us, it’s about constantly evolving and pushing the limit about what is beautiful to ourselves and our customers. I want to put out products that deserve to be in the world. I don’t think the world needs more things, brands, or products. We want everything we make to have a purpose, and a reason.
Design what brings you joy and makes you feel good.
What has been your most rewarding experience in this journey so far? – Creating and designing such special stores and having that physical interaction with the customer is one of the most rewarding things as a designer. Shopping at Cult Gaia offers a full brand immersion experience that I think everyone should be able to experience.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers and entrepreneurs who look up to Cult Gaia’s unique blend of fashion and artistry? – Always listen to your gut, continue to be inspired by the things or objects that are around you and continue to push yourself creatively. Design what brings you joy and makes you feel good.
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