Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Cult of St. John

In its heyday, St. John Knits was the uniform of a certain kind of woman: professional, polished, and (ahem) established. Its jackets featured 22k gold-plated and hand-enameled buttons. It hems were knit-in, not sewn.  Its fabrics were famously forgiving, and could be taken in or (more often) let out through a steaming process called blocking. It did Reagan Red like nobody's business.

When I was in high school, the company took out a full page color ad every Sunday in the L.A. Times Magazine featuring Kelly Gray, the daughter of the company's founder. Kelly Gray stretched out on a zebra-skin rug with shirtless male model. Kelly Gray standing by a limo with a bevy of handsome shirtless male models. Kelly Gray lounging poolside in Brazil with (you guessed it) even more shirtless male models.

Kelly Gray's world couldn't have been more different from mine, but I loved her, as did St. John's legions of rabidly loyal fans. Then, the unthinkable happened. The Grays were pushed out, and the new owners inexplicably chose Angelina Jolie as the brand's new face. Angelina Jolie, who promptly broke up Brad and Jennifer. Angelina Jolie, the embodiment of every O.C. trophy wife's greatest fear. The fans were not happy.

After some back-pedaling, St. John survived, and its multi-level store at the South Coast Plaza remains a haven for shoppers seeking gala-ready gowns and impeccable service. I was lucky enough to find a sequined gown just prior to the Jolie scandal at an outlet in Vegas. I'll show it to you in two weeks when I wear it to the Junior League's prom casino night. But with the exception of a couple of jackets bought on sale for my mom for Christmas gifts, I bought no other pieces of St. John's Santana knits.

So imagine my joy when I walked into Second Time Around in Torrance last weekend and found a stockpile of new-with-tags St. John. I walked out with this skirt, originally $300, but marked down to $50.

Knit-it hem

The Nordstrom tag is still attached!
I picture it with a low-slung gold chain belt. Perhaps an over-sized brooch. Nude hose, for a bit of Nancy R. camp.

In case you are feeling badly for the Ms. Gray, don't. She and her mom have just launched a new line, Grayse, which will no doubt have as solid a following as their old venture.


  1. Wow! You scored a great buy and a classic piece that will wear for years.

  2. So jealous! What a great steal! Love it!

  3. Thank you, both! I was pleased as punch.

  4. That's a great buy! So stylish. I like the butter cream colour. So perfect for Spring and Summer.

  5. St. John sales went up after Jolie join them and her campaigns with them were fabulous. Jolie was with them for 3 years and left them because they didn't came through on a promise of a charity. After they had different models and Kate, but neither manage to generate the buzz and sales they had with Jolie.


  6. Most fans don't care about gossip, tabloids or celebrities. And most fans are intelligent women and men that know that a marriage can't be broken by an outside person. That the only two people responsible for the success and fail of marriage are the two people on it.

    If you care about celebrities, you should at least read the celebrities legit interviews and not tabloids and gossip. Miss Aniston, Mr Pitt and all their family and friends have said numerous times they had a bad marriage with lots of problems and the end of it had nothing to do with Miss Jolie.

    1. AdvertisingGuy, thank you for bringing your perspective to this post.


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