The Trendsetters: The creatives behind the buzziest consumer trends
Jasmin Larian Hekmat
Founder and creative director, Cult Gaia
After Cult Gaia’s signature wooden Ark bag became the influencer and model “it” bag of 2016, Jasmin Larian Hekmat’s L.A.-based fashion brand has shown that it’s far more than a one-hit wonder. This year, the brand’s sparkly Hera bag has become part of the post-lockdown party-girl uniform after launching at the forefront of fashion’s era of bling.
Prior to founding the brand in 2011, Hekmat had experience with fashion on a much “smaller” scale, literally: Her father is the founder of the company that created the Bratz dolls. This year, she came full circle with a special Cult Gaia-Bratz collaboration to ring in the sassy doll brand’s 20th anniversary.
Cult Gaia has had success with many handbags over the years. What does it take for a bag to reach “it” status?
“I always say it should feel like art. You should be carrying a piece of art that you want to keep forever and pass down. It should make you and whoever sees it a little emotional, like, ‘Wow, what is that?’ You just want to look at it. You want to take a picture of it. You want to wear it. You want to display it in your closet. Providing that kind of visual magic is big for us.”
Considering your history with the brand, to what extent has Bratz influenced you and your own brand?
“[Bratz] taught me about paying attention to the little details, because you’re working on such a small scale and every detail counts. Beyond making [a style for a doll], you’re looking at how it’s worn and styled together, how it looks in a package, how it looks on a shelf, how it looks through your phone, and how it functions when dressing and undressing. Bratz dolls really taught me how to celebrate more than just a product, but also a mood and a feeling.”
Did you consider people’s post-pandemic mindsets when designing styles like the Hera?
“Not really. I [more so] lead by what I need and what I think my friends need, and go from there. I was like, ‘I want to go to Vegas and look cool and sexy, but not slutty. So what do I need to make for that?’ I wanted to wear something shiny, but not so extra that it’s too much.”
What do you think is driving the year’s shiny rhinestone comeback?
“Smartphones — what it looks like on camera. It’s just a lot of impact and a lot of look without much effort.
When we design something, I’m like, ‘OK, let’s go look at it in the sun. Let’s look at it in the shade. Let’s look at it with flash. Let’s look at it with no flash.’ I kind of treat it like it’s alive and try to see it in all its phases of life before we bring it to market.”
Do you foresee the high-sparkle, glam look remaining trendy in 2023?
“I believe in contrast. I think [sparkle] will still go hard, but she’s going to need a palate cleanser. I’m going to chill on the color a little bit. Our pre-fall collection is a cream dream.”
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