For Julia Amory, founder of India Amory, creating a lifestyle brand was her destiny. Julia’s stepgrandmother is Alexandra Stoddard, the celebrated lifestyle expert and author almost two dozen books including Creating a Beautiful Home and Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life. And Julia’s husband, Minot, happens to know a thing or two about lifestyle brands as well. His great aunt was the late Lilly Pulitzer.
Julia developed the concept for India Amory in 2016 while searching for printed fabric to use for the tables at her beautiful wedding in Southampton. Unable to find the perfect print at an affordable price, she decided to design her own pattern using the Indian block print technique and produce the napkins and tablecloths herself. Julia was so inspired by the process that she left her career in financial services to follow her true passion by developing the India Amory brand. Today, I am delighted to welcome Julia for a Q&A!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: In all elements of style I have always gravitated towards what my family calls “happy colors.” I grew up in a house where we believed that beige is not a color and we simply “could not cope with taupe” – the exception being camel hair coats. Growing up in New York in the ‘90s – this wasn’t a particularly “en vogue” approach to style. In both my personal style as well as home decor I believe that simple lines and saturated colors are an unbeatable combination. I don’t do trends.
Q: Who have been your greatest role models?
A: My grandparents, Alexandra Stoddard and Peter Brown are among my greatest role models. My grandfather passed away several years ago but I grew up spending a tremendous amount of time with them in both New York City, where I also grew up and in Stonington, CT where they have a summer home.
In a day in age where people wear flip flops on planes, I don’t think that I ever saw my grandfather not wearing a coat and tie. This isn’t to say there was an unnecessary formality to the way they lived, rather an elegance and a wholistic approach to the pursuit of living a beautiful life! There was certainly a degree of eccentricity that went along with that – matching your chopsticks to your Shanghai Tang tunic (for dinner in restaurants) was a must and underlining the New York Times with a hot pink ballpoint pen over breakfast (also always in a restaurant) was a daily ritual. They lived in a rose colored world of Porthault, Pucci and spontaneous jaunts to Paris and Bermuda – it wasn’t always “real life” but it was a wonderful fantasy to be exposed to growing up!
Art has always been a tremendous part of my understanding and approach to style. My mother took me to children’s classes at MoMA every Saturday when I was growing up and trips to the MET were a weekly adventure. I strongly believe that exposure to art at a young age helps to shape one’s understanding and ability to work with color. I consider Roger Muhl to be one of my greatest sources of inspiration.
Lastly, my husband is the nephew of a great woman of style named Chessy Rayner and the home in which we spend summers in Southampton was designed and built by her. Chessy had a pioneering approach to decorating of mixing high and low before it was the chic thing to do. Her design firm MAC II has withstood the test of time, their work still feels relevant 20 years later. I’ve very much taken the high-low philosophy to heart with India Amory. Minot is also the great nephew of Peter and Lilly Pulitzer – obviously they’re icons and I consider them both tremendous role models!
Q: Please tell me more about the incredible family homes in which you and your husband grew up. How did these beautiful surroundings help shape your own style?
A: I’ll use this opportunity to talk about my husband Minot’s house in Palm Beach which was decorated by his grandmother Chessy Patcevitch – she was an incredibly stylish woman who I never had the opportunity to meet but who personified the kind of elegance that rarely exists in this day in age. Her husband was a man named Iva Patcevitch who ran Condé Nast – they were very glamorous! There is a tremendous amount of sophistication and balance with Big Chessy’s approach to style – playful colors are always grounded with important antiques and stripes are always rooted with more saturated deep color.
Q: I’m dying to hear more about your grandmother Alexandra Stoddard’s linen closet… That must have been such an inspiration!
A: Alexandra is perhaps the most stylish woman I’ve ever known – even her linen closet is perfect. In the Internet age – what you see is not always what you get. There’s can often be an element of falsehood in Instagram. With Alexandra what you see is what you get – that linen closet wasn’t styled for a shoot, that’s what it really looks like! She also has a ribbon closet (I know) and that was in their apartment in New York….She’s taught me that living elegantly is not about how you look when you leave the house but rather how the grace with which you live your life. When I was growing up, we would have dates to work on interior projects in my grandparents beautiful apartment in New York – these projects were more often that not working on things that nobody but someone who really SEES color and style would ever appreciate. We would paint the interior of her kitchen cabinets chartreuse, or re-grout the Portugese tiles on the floor of the front hall closet! And of course there was the ironing….Alexandra taught me to appreciate the the “zen” that comes with “pressing” your belongings – even your undies! As the owner of such an extensive Porthault collection I suppose it’s totally necessary but it is also a very calming exercise! My appreciation for beautiful linens and textiles from such a young age certainly lead me to what i’m doing now!
Q: Who are your favorite interior designers and style icons? Where do you find inspiration?
A: The Prince of Chintz – Mario Buatta, Eleanor McMillen Brown, Alexandra Stoddard and Chessy Rayner! 1960s Palm Beach makes me want to build a time machine and set the clock back. Slim Aarons photography makes my heart beat faster and the paintings of Roger Muhl make me want to pack up, move to the South of France and never look back. I’ve also always had a deep affinity for 18th century France and the garden design of Andre Le Notre.
Q: You had the most beautiful fairytale wedding, and I love that it was what inspired you to create your company. How can other brides use India Amory products for their own weddings?
A: Thank you! The wedding was so special not only because of the significance for Minot and myself but because it was the genesis of India Amory. The first fabric I had printed we ended up using for all of the tablecloths as well as the robes for the bridesmaids and boxers for the boys. Unfortunately as you’re working out the kinks of a new company (and developing prototypes in India) the boxers arrived with no opening in the front….needless to say the boys were good sports and we have fixed the problem since!
India Amory now offers full custom options for brides – custom robes and linens are such a fabulous way to create a unique event and we’re really aiming to do that at an accessible price point! We’re currently working with lots of brides and can’t wait to share the photos of their respective weddings!
Q: What are your top tips for stylish entertaining?
A: Do EVERYTHING in advance. I sweat the small stuff – I can’t help it! The visual element of a dinner party is perhaps more important to me than the food so I always like to leave myself lots of time to have fun with the part I personally enjoy the most which is the aesthetic component. I’m also addicted to both Amazon Prime and eBay for home accessories. This is not a sexy tip just a useful one. There is nothing you can’t find for your table by typing it in to either Amazon or eBay – it’s a great way to find things you haven’t seen in stores and save some money. And of course, printed tablecloths are a fantastic way to immediately create a finished looking table – owning rattan chargers that you can put on top of any printed tablecloth is such a fast way to create a complete looking table.
Q: What are five luxuries you could not live without in the home?
A: I’ll give you about eight because I can’t cut down to five!
- Gracie and Hudson – our English Cream Dauchshund and our lab mix. Nobody cares – but if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see them pop up. There’s a lot of personality there.
My India Amory ankle length robe – it’s really more of a dressing robe, but perfect for looking civilized (when you’re not feeling it!).
- Scent is nostalgic and Rigaud Cypress candles make me think of childhood.
- Printed tablecloths and napkins – you could be serving macaroni and cheese but really all that matter is that you have a “happy table!”
- Preserved boxwood. You can buy these preserved boxwood balls anywhere -they’re inexpensive, never die and really do make things feel a bit more “green” in the middle of an atomic Northeastern winter.
- Curtains and rugs and duvets. I’ve got a thing about all three. I don’t like a naked looking bed – which means at least two duvets, one on the bed, one at the foot and about six pillow – two Euro, two standard, one neckroll and one boudoir. Curtains – can’t cope with a naked window. And rugs – even if it’s just a sisal area rug, it instantly makes a space feel more complete.
Q: What are your long-term goals for India Amory?
A: To bring beautiful linens and custom pieces to the market in an accessible way that makes it fun to entertain! We’ve got a lot cooking – stay tuned!