Celebrating 25 years of her bespoke linen atelier, Jane Scott Hodges is full of joie de vivre, and this treasured artisan is just getting started.
What a fabulous milestone to be celebrating! Looking back, do you have a favorite memory from when you were first getting started? It seems like it was yesterday, my first trip to visit the historic Eleanor Beard Studio with my mother before my wedding. I was inspired by some family pieces I had uncovered and was determined to try to create my own personal linens (trousseau) to accentuate my new phase of life that would speak to my style and reflect my personality. I walked away from that special visit to design my trousseau with two feelings I just couldn’t shake: This was an art form being created in my home state (Kentucky) by female artisans, and, secondly, how could New Orleans, my chosen home, which is so swathed in history and love of all things beautiful, not have these available there! That special trip with my mother was what started Leontine.
I think the first crown jewel was being named the exclusive linen line for Bergdorf Goodman’s iconic seventh floor. Bergdorf gave Leontine three rooms to create an atelier to showcase our American-made custom product, just blocks from where Eleanor Beard had her ‘salon’ in the 1920s and ’30s. I’ll never forget standing on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue one dark evening right before our launch and watching the window designers reveal the Leontine display featuring a sublime gold quilt in a historic Eleanor Beard pattern we had resurrected from the archives of dusty patterns, and thinking to myself, ‘She’s back where she belongs.’
What have you enjoyed most about watching Leontine grow into such a beloved staple? It’s seeing that same spark with the clients and designers while we’re collaborating that I felt that very first time I designed my own trousseau. Sometimes it happens while we are meeting, when they show me a swatch of wallpaper and I pair it with a monogram that has that very same vine pattern. Other times it’s when our sketch artist comes up with a completely new border to frame the client’s pillow shams that perfectly matches the trellis pattern of the drapery fabric. Or maybe it’s when I’m installing the linens and they see their fully dressed bed for the first time. But it always happens… the moment that turns the client into a collector! Some of my favorite projects and designs were divined by the client and not the other way around. Several of our monogram styles are named after the client who introduced us to the design; some have come from their own heirloom collections while others they have sketched themselves and asked us to translate with needle and thread. One of my guiltiest pleasures during an in-home appointment is peering into some of the most fantastic linen closets in this country.
Are you working on anything special to commemorate the anniversary? For our 25th year we are excited to launch several exclusive anniversary items that are a nod to our storied past. We will have a product in each category—bed, bath, table and bedclothes—to celebrate the heirloom quality of the things we create every day at our sister company, the historic Eleanor Beard Studio. I’ve been truly inspired to honor this occasion with special pieces that are the epitome of Leontine: classic with a twist. Think luscious lavender terry and quilted satin bed jackets.
Who inspires you? Eleanor Beard, the namesake of our sister company. Unbeknownst to me, when I embarked on this journey, the workroom that I discovered in rural Kentucky to make our things had a history of its own. It was not until we purchased the studio in 2002 that I uncovered the rich history of the Eleanor Beard Studio. It was the first time I realized that Eleanor had blazed the very path I was on but a century before me. This year, we not only celebrate 25 years of Leontine, but also Eleanor Beard Studio turns 100—what synchronicity! The artisans at the studio who create each bespoke piece are my daily inspiration. Until you see it with your own eyes, it is hard to comprehend that each piece is still cut from wide, good fabric; pieced; finished; and embellished—all by hand… in the United States! I do not think there is another company that does what we do. I also think many people do not realize that each piece of Leontine is truly an heirloom-quality treasure.
This business is the gift that keeps on giving. It is an honor to create the most intimate of personal items—where you eat, sleep and bathe—and to be a part of people’s every day by creating practical beauty that enriches their lives and [the lives of] those they share it with.
How do you think design has evolved during this time? Social media and access! Sharing with the world has become so much easier. For Leontine, it has always been a huge challenge to figure out how to showcase the product when it is all custom—from the flange depth to the color of the scalloped piping. We don’t have a ‘line,’ and so a catalog was never fitting. I have to say, for the complicated dimension that social media has added to society, seeing our product in situ is easier than ever and thus a silver lining. I will say that I think the increase in accessibility has changed our society to an ‘Amazon Prime’ mentality—but at Leontine we still make every piece to order, nothing prepared ahead of time.
Every stitch is sewn with meticulous detailing and care by skilled artisans, making each Leontine Linens piece completely unique and made with love.
What are you most excited about for the future of design? For 25 years I have watched trends rise and fall and cycle through the shelter magazines. And you know what? Leontine has complemented them all! Like in fashion, trends succeed best when anchored and balanced by the classic elements. In other words, the fun is in the mix. If I had to pull a single product to represent Leontine Linens in a time capsule to be unearthed in 100 years, it would be a simple pique pillow sham with an oversize Abigail applique monogram. That one item effortlessly adorns the bedrooms of the most classic French-country interiors as well as the most brazenly modern studio apartments. So, what’s most exciting to me is knowing that Leontine Linens is truly timeless and will continue to offer the finishing touch in America’s most fantastic interiors, no matter where the trends take us.