How to Score a Compliment: Wear Ulla Johnson

At this last Saturday’s Alexandria Warehouse Sale, I wore two of The Hive’s newest pieces — a red printed midi dress by Xirena and a heavy-fringed pale pink oversized cardigan. I’m still working on getting pictures of the dress, but here’s the cardigan:

Around 11 o’clock that day, as I rushed to the restroom from my station where I had been manning The Shoe Hive’s check out all morning, a friend and customer caught my attention from a few feet away. “I love your sweater!” I smiled and told her it was new at The Hive –“Go check it out!”– but had to be on my way since our lines were still long and I was still needed. What I wish I had had time to tell her is that this incredible cardigan is part of our very first delivery of one of my very favorite designers, Ulla Johnson. I wish I had had time to tell her that it is cozy but not heavy, a statement piece but still versatile.

I wish I had had time to wax poetic about my love for Ulla Johnson — the designer and her clothes. She is the epitome of “California cool” despite the fact that she was born and raised in Manhattan, the daughter of archaeologists. Perhaps this is why in trying to describe her designs, I have decided her designs are a little West Coast boho without losing any of the East Coast sophistication our customers typically seek out.

Indeed, Ulla Johnson honed her signature style between the streets of New York and the far-flung destinations of their family travels. Her eponymous line, founded in 2000 just after her graduation from university, immediately caught the attention of the fashion press. Growing from a handful of directional boutiques and with an early endorsement from Barneys New York, Ulla Johnson’s collection has gained a dedicated following and the support of retailers across the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia — and now Alexandria, Virginia. She has never wavered on her steadfast attention to the details of construction that have become her hallmark, basing each of her collections on a foundation of natural fibers, beautiful finishing, and ease of fit and form.

Ulla Johnson’s pieces aren’t the ones that are likely going to take you to work, and they’re probably not going to take you on a hot date either. Instead, Ulla Johnson’s designs are made for women in celebration of women — they are feminine and fun. They are the ones that take you to brunch with your girlfriends, on a beach vacation with your family, or to the Alexandria Warehouse Sale! So, to the friend with whom I wasn’t able to chat on Saturday, and to all of you, do yourself a favor and give Ulla Johnson’s pieces a try. Maybe you’ll get compliments launched at you from across the room, too!

P.S. I just found a photo of the Xirena dress! Apparently my colleagues photographed it when I was in New York last week. So, if you love the cardigan I wore but don’t know how to wear it, wear it with this!

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