Vietnam–born clothing and jewelry designer Chan Luu opens her first flagship lifestyle boutique in Southern California and reveals why she is hung up on the past.
Chan Luu, founder of an eponymous Los Angeles–based lifestyle brand, attributes much of her successful career to three key trends: a skinny scarf, a hand-painted seashell necklace and iconic wrap bracelets. “The company is where it is today because of those three trends,” says the clothing and jewelry designer who was born and raised in Nha Trang, a coastal town in Southern Vietnam.
Chan, who resided in Palos Verdes for more than a decade and owned a boutique in Rolling Hills Estates, majored in business education at Boston University and initially launched her company in 1996. Today Chan’s designs span boho, dip-dyed, viscose fringe scarves handcrafted in India; leather wrap bracelets replete with stones such as labradorite, cat’s-eye, freshwater pearls, agate, semi-precious stones culled from Botswana and white iridescent Chinese crystals; hand-embroidered floral maxi skirts; and even men’s jewelry.
“I love creating beautiful products that are inspired by my experiences,” adds Chan, who now lives in Pacific Palisades. “There are a lot of things that influence my designs: nature, diverse cultures, ancient crafts and traveling the world.”
For her handcrafted, global-inspired designs (many worn by the Hollywood set), Chan admits that she looks to the past. “We are a very evolving company, and I use ancient craft techniques and recreate my experience into today’s fashion,” she explains. “Even though my products are contemporary, each style always has a relationship with the past.”
This year Chan opened her first flagship lifestyle boutique in the United States at Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica. “Chan Luu is a trendsetting company, and each new idea takes our business to the next level,” she says of the light-and-airy, 925-square-foot store now added to the small roster of stores previously only in Japan. “Our business has thrived on discovering great talent who have taken my creative direction and expanded my vision. I have built a great infrastructure, and now I am proud to say we have Chan Luu USA and Chan Luu Japan and products sold around the world.”
Now in addition to jewelry and apparel, Chan has debuted CL Lifestyle—a collection of refined home-wares including handloomed cotton Turkish beach blankets, handcarved wooden coasters made in India depicting stars and floral patterns, and made-to-order woven reed tote bags constructed in Ghana and adorned with cowry shell strands, cotton cord tassels and brightly-hued small pom-poms.
When she isn’t jetting on a plane, she spends time playing one of her favorite instruments. “I am a classical pianist, and when I am not traveling I spend two hours a day practicing piano,” says Chan, who splits time between her primary residence in Pacific Palisades and her organic fruit and flower farm in Kauai. “I love to cook and have dinner parties when I am home in Pacific Palisades. This is where I share laughter and life experiences with friends. When I travel to my third home in Santa Fe, I focus on painting and art.”
White pearl wire thread thru earrings, $80
(Worn by Michelle Obama!)
Labradorite choker on dark brown leather, $145
(also available in moonstone and hypersthene)
Silver bead wrap bracelet on natural brown
leather, $295 (also available in gunmetal)
Remembering the forced relocation and incarceration of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1946