LAURIE LYNN & JESSE JO STARK

LAURIE LYNN & JESSE JO STARK

FADE IN:

LAURIE LYNN STARK’S STUDIO, CHROME HEARTS FACTORY, LOS ANGELES — MORNING

The cavernous, brick walled studio of LAURIE LYNN STARK, at the Chrome Hearts compound, is immaculate. Photographs by LAURIE LYNN, coffee table books, and a selection of the brand’s rarest pieces decorate floor to ceiling shelves that span two adjacent walls.

CUT TO:

LAURIE LYNN and her daughter, JESSE JO STARK, enter, and each woman sits at the opposite end of an oversized sofa in the room’s sitting area.

LAURIE LYNN
Chrome Hearts has been doing business in Los Angeles for more than 26 years. What’s your earliest memory here? Do you remember falling asleep on the ground while your dad and I were designing pants for Linda Evangelista?

JESSE JO
No. But I remember the inspiration photos behind daddy’s desk in his old office, which is now where my boyfriend’s studio is. I was in there the other day and tripped out.

LAURIE LYNN
A flash back?

JESSE JO
Yeah. I remember there always used to be a million dudes here.

LAURIE LYNN
Nikki Sixx, Slash, Duff [McKagan] — those guys were the celebrities at the time. They immediately appreciated our brand’s rawness.

JESSE JO
And all the women —

LAURIE LYNN
All the supermodels. Linda [Evangelista], Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer. The rockstars dated models, so they’d come in to shop, or borrow things.

JESSE JO
Dad would come to work at five o’clock in the morning and he’d play really loud rock music.

LAURIE LYNN
He still does. Back then, we’d work late because our rent was paid from jacket to jacket. Sarah Foster was one of our first models — I got in big trouble with her dad because she was 17 and I photographed her with no top on [laughs]. You’d fall asleep at the office, and sometimes we would, too. That was normal. We had to work, there was no way around it.

JESSE JO
I used think that I was rolling with two of the baddest rockstars, that’s how I viewed my parents. There’s always been a strong sense of family here — back then, and even to this day. But I didn’t always like all the people hanging around.

LAURIE LYNN
Remember how badly you wanted to meet Britney Spears? You must’ve been around ten years old when she used to come here all the time. One day, I said there was as a surprise for you at the factory. Britney was here with her sister, Jamie Lynn, and when you walked in and saw them you ran the other way [laughs]!

JESSE JO
I was obsessed with her but would not meet her.

LAURIE LYNN
You were very shy. But looking back, I realize you were protecting us; you’ve always been very protective. Your dad and I didn’t know monetary success then, but we’d give clothes away all the time. People would take advantage — they’d walk out with stuff and we couldn’t afford it. Your siblings Frankie Belle and Kristian Jack didn’t have the same experience.

JESSE JO
I used to staple together extra scraps of leather lying around to make purses. Frankie Belle does that, too, but then she’ll critique what we’re designing. Now I know how you must feel when I tell you what to do [laughs].

LAURIE LYNN
You naturally started to take on more responsibility at the company around the time you decided you didn’t want to go to college. You said you’d rather learn the family business instead.

JESSE JO
We have fun working together. It’s cool to see how dad, you, and me each bring our own ideas to the design process. Even though I don’t necessarily approach things as you guys do, you give me the freedom to create. And if I’m ever unsure, I know I can go to you and judge by your initial reactions whether I’m on the right track.

LAURIE LYNN
And we’re not always right, either.

JESSE JO
I think you are a lot of the time.

LAURIE LYNN
What’s right and wrong is less important than learning what works and what doesn’t. Your mind isn’t full of preconceived notions about what will or won’t sell. You bring a fresh perspective and a willingness to take risks. Both are needed to keep the brand alive. Those, combined with our wisdom, creates a perfect potion.

JESSE JO
Lately we’ve all been focused on what we want to put in the new New York City store.

LAURIE LYNN
It’s going to be a little bit of each of us.

JESSE JO
I think the space will be more accessible. There’s a kitchen, so people can hang. There will also be more custom merchandise. All of our stores sell different things, but we worked really hard to make this specific location special. It’s really exciting.

LAURIE LYNN
I find there aren’t enough parents who recognize their children’s skills or interests. And while I’m hypersensitive to the fact that we built a legacy, at the same time I never want to be a parent who forces that upon her kids. You showed very early signs of musical talent, and now have a whole career outside of Chrome Hearts that you built on your own, too.

JESSE JO
I’m stoked to spend some time working on my new music.

LAURIE LYNN
You had your first band at what, eight years old? And at 12 you were on tour with your godmother, Cher, performing on stage —

JESSE JO
I got to dance one time [laughs].

LAURIE LYNN
Really, you got kidnapped by her and the gypsies. You’d get ready with her, watch her voice warm ups.

JESSE JO
I had a stage name: Sugar Jones [laughs]. I remember one time dad came to visit and Cher’s bodyguard, her brother-in-law, Ebar, told him he had to ask me before dad could come in the room. When I was ready, Ebar said, “Sugar will see you now.” Dad just lost it.

LAURIE LYNN
It was definitely a sink or swim situation. If you didn’t love it you would not have been on that bus. And later on, you started to ask questions about music history. There was a time that Uncle Steve from The Sex Pistols would come over each Friday and you’d play name that tune. You’ve always been able to hang with people young or old, like me. We share a lot of friends.

JESSE JO
Remember that time when all my guy friends asked me if you were coming with us to the disco?

LAURIE LYNN
I was so apprehensive because I hadn’t been to a club in a while.

JESSE JO
But you ended up dancing more than I did.

LAURIE LYNN
I tore it up [laughs]. I killed that dance floor.

JESSE JO
And you looked hot. I love how you think I take all your clothes, when I just noticed six of my pieces in your room [laughs]. You are seriously busted because you took my Anthrax tee.

LAURIE LYNN
I’ll take your clothes, and your little sister will take both of ours. The only time that becomes a problem is when I see Frankie’s friends wearing them on Instagram. That pisses me off. Thank god you aren’t my shoe size.

JESSE JO
I’ll still try to squeeze into them [laughs].

LAURIE LYNN
I like all of your vintage tees, but what we really need to do is find your dad’s stash.

JESSE JO
I’ve asked him so many times and he’s still only given me one.

LAURIE LYNN
There’s a box with shirts from every concert he’s been to that he’s just too lazy to find [laughs]. There aren’t many daughters like you, in that you still enjoy time with your family more than anyone I know.

JESSE JO
Well you and dad are rare people. I hope that I can be the same way with my kids.

LAURIE LYNN
I feel that I paved the way for you, but then you ran down that pavement and never looked back. You’ve created new roads for our family to take its business to the next level. Growing up in a certain era, I was a little more apprehensive at your age than you are today, more of a muse than a voice. And while I may be a big voice now, you’re even bigger.

CREDITS

Photography byMichael Brager

Conversation moderated byAnthony Rotunno

Laurie Lynn Stark is a photographer and the co-owner and co-designer of Chrome Hearts.
Jesse Jo Stark is a musician and a designer of Chrome Hearts.

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THE END