On the afternoon of the final presidential debate, jewelry and accessories designer Jacquie Aiche stood in the backyard of her Beverly Hills showroom with a leafy cannabis-plant crown atop her head, a 14-karat gold-and-diamond pinkie ring on her right hand, and a solution to the ugly campaign season on the tip of her tongue.
"Honestly, Trump and Hillary just need to sit down together and smoke a joint!" Aiche said. "It makes people happy. It could heal the nation!"
The comment drew a wide smile — and a high-five — from Bianca Green, founder of a marijuana education and awareness campaign called Spark the Conversation and co-host of an exceedingly cannabis-friendly event that drew friends and supporters from both camps, including models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, author and filmmaker Liz Goldwyn, Stillhouse whiskey wunderkind Brad Beckerman, Mother denim label co-founder Lela Becker and the stars of MTV's "Mary + Jane," Jessica Rothe and Scout Durwood.
The purpose of the party (start time was 4:20 p.m.) was two-fold. First, it was to officially celebrate the launch of an expansion of Aiche's pot-leaf-emblazoned Sweet Leaf jewelry and apparel collection. Second, it was an effort to de-stigmatize the social use of cannabis by adults and raise awareness about California's Proposition 64 (the Nov. 8 ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state for those age 21 and over).
Aiche, who describes herself as an enthusiastic consumer of cannabis ("I've been an avid pot smoker my whole life," she said. "It helps my creativity") and has designing many a pot-themed piece over the years, says she first connected with Green a few years back when the latter was frantically searching for just the right statement piece to carry to Snoop Dogg's birthday party.
"I was going to Snoop's birthday party and I wanted something that night," Green remembers. "So [Jacquie] opened her showroom on a Sunday for me, and I got a snakeskin clutch with [a] black [pot] leaf on it. I liked it so much I slept with it that night."
Aiche says she's created so many cannabis-themed pieces over the last five years that it more or less organically grew into a standalone collection, which she promptly dubbed Sweet Leaf. Today, the collection features an assortment of high-end items emblazoned with the seven-pointed cannabis leaf, including a black snakeskin and leather backpack ($6,250), the aforementioned snakeskin clutches ($2,000), denim shirts created in collaboration with Mother ($750) and pieces of jewelry that range from $440 (for a pair of pavé diamond and 14K gold earrings) to $5,500 (for a gold-and-diamond choker necklace bearing 10 tiny pot leaves).
What Aiche rolled out at the Oct. 19 party were a few smoking-specific additions to the range available via her website starting today. They include clutches designed to securely store credit cards (as well as that medical marijuana patient identification card) on one side and combustibles and a lighter on the other ($2,400 for a snakeskin version, $7,000 for crocodile), snakeskin blunt travel cases ($440) and snakeskin-clad lighters tagged with a pavé pot-leaf charm ($400).
Those pieces weren't the only thing on display in and around Aiche's La Peer Drive showroom, though. There was also a noticeable, unabashed enthusiasm for cannabis culture. In one corner of the yard, a brand called Evoxe was demonstrating its vape pens. In the opposite corner, a handful of attendees were firing up the old-fashioned way and leafing through literature about Spark the Conversation, which would head to Humbolt County the next morning to start a pre-voting-day bus tour through the state.
In the middle was a bar serving up themed cocktails like the Peach Don't Kill My Vibe (Stillhouse peach tea whiskey and lemonade) and the Pineapple Express (Stillhouse coconut whiskey and pineapple juice). Inside, a doctor was on call to offer Skype consultations to prospective medical marijuana patients.
Spark the Conversation's Green sees benefits to cannabis-meets-couture efforts like Aiche's. "With Jacquie making these [pieces] in such a high-end manner, it really helps change the stigma," she said. "We're able to see change when people come out and normalize [marijuana use] and speak about it. … and especially when it's pieces that resonate with what you'd call an elevated lifestyle. That's a really good demographic."
For more musings on all things fashion, style and cannabis couture, follow me @ARTschorn.