Style

Jasmin Hekmat

Cult Gaia’s Creative Director
Just Wants to Dance

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Cult Gaia founder and creative director, Jasmin Hekmat, doing what she loves means working every day of her life. “It’s how I carve out time for myself,” she insists. “If I’m being creative, I sleep better, I’m less stressed, and I feel more fulfilled: It’s my health line.”

Back in 2012, when she got her start making flower crowns, Hekmat never could have predicted the success her aptly named ready-to-wear brand would achieve. Cut to the present day and wearing Cult Gaia is like having a little piece of LACMA-worthy art slung over your shoulder or strapped to your feet—each bag, heel, and vacation-destined dress is more alluring than the last.

“We try to make objects that someone will see and go, ‘Wow, where did you get
that?’ Something that’s extraordinary but also very wearable.”

Cult Gaia’s pieces are more than just conversation-starters—they’re conversation-dominators. So how does this visionary keep the conversation going when many people are, for the most part, still holed up at home? “By inspiring joy and excitement,” says Hekmat. “Something everyone will always need.”

What’s the Cult Gaia aesthetic?

A woman’s body is something that’s a consistent source of inspiration for me. Our muse is this warrior goddess—Gaia is the goddess of earth. And I’ve always been drawn to simple shapes inspired by nature. I love seeing movement in things when you walk, and the way colors change when they’re illuminated by the sun.

woman in dessert

Best part about your job?

Getting to see the final product of something you spent so much time creating. We start with a concept but it’s always evolving because we have a large team building on it. And when you finally get it right, you reap the rewards—it’s like Christmas morning.

How does nature play a role in the signature ark shape?

It’s serendipitous because I’ve always been obsessed with watermelons and that summery feeling they evoke. The ark is also the shape of a half moon. The sun can also be an ark. So it’s all in the same vein for me. Our new Celine Shoulder Bag elevates the original design—and you’ve got a necklace and bag rolled into one.

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Most versatile bag in the collection?

The Roksana is such a good work tote, beach tote, and travel tote—you can bring it everywhere, and it fits so much. I get so many compliments on this bag.

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Tell us about the materials you work with.

I love working with natural materials because it keeps everything feeling soft. Bamboo is one of the elements that made us, and raffia has become a signature as well. I find that those materials are a perfect contrast to the architectural acrylics and leathers we use—they ground us and bring us back down to earth.

Has it been hard keeping your community engaged?

We did something fun called Cult Gaia Let’s Dance, where whenever someone posted a video of themselves dancing in Cult Gaia on Instagram, we donated $25 to No Kid Hungry. So we got people moving—something that helped us get through the past year. And I think Cult Gaia is even more relevant now because even though so many people are at home, our pieces instill joy and allow people to dream.

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Has it been challenging finding inspiration at home?

I’m inspired by everything. I’m inspired by objects, women, contrasts, fantasy. It’s sort of a mélange of it all. For our resort collection, I had a vision of Audrey Hepburn doing acid in Marrakech (for the record, Audrey Hepburn would never do acid in Marrakech). But that vision gave birth to so much more than what drawing from reality could have given me.

woman in Cult Gaia

What kinds of pieces are you gravitating toward lately?

We introduced a new collection of cozy cashmere sets that have become a part of my uniform. So much of what I’ve been focusing on recently is creating things with versatility—pieces you can wear at home with slippers, throw on heels and go to dinner in, or wear with boots for work. You’ll feel good and look chic for all three.

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How has your style evolved this past year?

I’ve definitely become more minimal. Sometimes I feel like I need a palate cleanser, especially when I’m creating so much. Just because I live in a uniform doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. I’m all about paring it down and making it a little less fussy—that is what fashion does for us.

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Favorite day-to-date bag?

I love the Bara. It’s super easy and done in this beautifully ruched leather that’s so soft. You can throw on anything you want with it. To me, it’s an essential. No, you can’t put a laptop in it, but it’s a great transition piece.

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What kinds of trends are you seeing accessory-wise?

People are looking for easy bags to carry, like the classic ’90s baguette. I wanted to bring back an element of artistry and flare to that ease and simplicity, which is what we achieved with the Jaci tote.

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First thing you’re fantasizing about doing postpandemic?

I’m so excited to dress up again. And I’m looking forward to dancing and traveling and getting back to that fantasy land. I want to be on a boat in Greece—we’ll see if that’s in the cards this year.

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