Last summer, Jeana Sohn’s son, Moonie, turned 5, and she decided it was time to start a new project. Almost exactly one year later, this past weekend, she was surrounded by friends in Los Angeles to celebrate the debut of her namesake clothing line, a 13-piece ready-to-wear collection of easygoing dresses, crisp tops, cropped trousers and trench coats — all with impeccable, slightly tomboyish, tailoring and a quietly chic color palette. Until recently, Sohn, who left her native Seoul in 2001 to attend CalArts, has been known mostly as a painter and photographer. In 2010, she launched the fashion blog Closet Visit, and later, she began shooting look books for independent Los Angeles designers, including Jesse Kamm and Clare Vivier. Seeing the industry “behind the scenes led me to be interested in trying it for myself,” she says of designing clothes. Last Saturday, Sohn’s friends gathered in the Laurel Canyon backyard of the textile designer Heather Taylor for drinks, dinner and a chance to see the pieces up close.
A big party under the stars is not customary for Sohn, who is more comfortable entertaining one or two guests at a time at her home, where she serves expertly executed lattes and eight-minute boiled eggs — an occurrence so regular it’s commonly referred to as “Cafe Jeana.” However, her friends were eager to fête her arrival as a designer. Encouraged by Taylor, Sohn eventually agreed to co-host a larger event, at Taylor’s home, and party planning followed. “I wanted my house for the setting in the hopes that it would make everyone feel cozy and welcome,” explains Taylor, Sohn’s co-host and close friend.
Just before sunset on the warm summer night, guests began to gather outside Taylor’s home and cool off in the shade of the garden’s giant sycamore trees. Against the woodsy backdrop, a single clothing rack showcased Sohn’s streamlined collection, but many of the pieces could also be seen in the crowd: Vivier arrived wearing a pink button-down of Sohn’s design, while the artist Mindy Shapero, the jewelry designer Grace Lee and the textile consultant Joanna Williams all had on the same billowy-sleeved shirt dress from the collection in eggplant, cream and caramel-hued velvet, respectively. Taylor wore the line’s V-neck Flower dress, which Sohn had made especially for her in cornflower blue. “Everyone wants to dress like Jeana,” says Taylor, “And now we all have a chance to.” Here, Sohn shares her fundamentals for entertaining with style and ease.