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Take A Chance: Julia Leach Embraces California Style

Meeting Julia Leach, the founder and creative director of Chance, makes you question the way the world typically characterizes creative genius, because it’s usually not as a supremely kind, gentle, willowy blonde. But make no mistake about it: Julia has one of the most creative minds we’ve come across in a while. And we couldn’t be more excited about her latest project: the XO Exclusively Ours Chance California collection at Barneys New York, which includes dresses, tees, shorts, totes and beach towels.

Chance is more than just a brand, though; Chance is a way of life, or a way of looking at life. As Julia puts it, Chance “represents an artful, adventurous life, one lived with easy grace and independent joie de vivre, and inspired by travel, nature, music, art, cinema, friendship, and family.”

The daughter of a French writer and Midwestern potter, a creative life was basically Julia’s birthright—and a talent she honed at Chiat/Day, where her mentor was advertising legend Jay Chiat, and as the creative director at Kate Spade. At its core, Chance is basically a repository of all her creative interests and passions developed over the past twenty years.

The current collection, however, stems directly from Julia’s love for the Pacific Ocean and California life. Julia considers California her second home (after NYC) and its effortless style and natural beauty are endless sources of inspiration for her. The short film she developed with filmmaker Andrew Paynter, “Saturday,” captures that spirit and lifestyle perfectly.

The pair shot the film at a house in Palm Springs belonging to one of Julia’s friends, which is typical of how she tends to work: by embracing collaborations and interactions that evolve organically and—forgive us—almost by chance. And her loyal network of friends is all too happy to help out—pal Lizzie Garrett of Tomboy Style sat down to interview her for us (check out the video below), while one of her closest friends, artist Elliott Puckette, created the hand-drawn stripe on this exclusive, limited-edition tee.

The word that keeps coming to mind is charming—both the brand and Julia herself are endlessly charming. Spending time with her is somewhat addictive: you keep wanting to know more about what she thinks is cool, where she’s traveling, what she’s listening to (we even asked her to make us a playlist, which she did, below). If you live in L.A., you’ll have the chance to see what we’re talking about tomorrow at the Beverly Hills Barneys flagship, where Julia will be greeting customers between 2 and 4pm. If you ask us, it’s the perfect way to spend a California Saturday.

But first, take a peek behind the design into the world of Chance…

— The Interview —

Video by Austin Saya. Music by Geoffrey Yandle.

— The Clothes —

Shop the full Chance collection at Barneys.com.

— The Inspiration —

— The Soundtrack —