A sophisticated edginess and exquisite materials distinguish the fashion collaboration between the mother-daughter duo of Marie and Kelly Gray.
Almost 10 years after leaving St. John — the company Marie and her husband Robert co-founded in 1962 — they have reunited to launch Grayse, which is more casual than St. John, but no less elegant.
“Grayse is reflective of where we’re at today and the changes that have taken place in the world,” Kelly says. “The power suit was vital to the woman in the ’80s and ’90s; now, it’s about a sense of individuality. It’s more flexible — more about items rather than ensembles.”
After St. John, Marie became a scratch golfer, and Kelly — who was the brand’s signature model, creative director, and CEO over the years — launched Royal Underground, an edgy clothing line for men and women, with Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. “With St. John I got to visit the White House, and with Nikki I got to live on a tour bus,” Kelly says. “With [Marie] it’s somewhere in between: graceful and elegant with an edge.”
While they produce most of the collection at Grayse’s Irvine headquarters, Marie and Kelly chose Palm Desert’s El Paseo shopping district for their first retail boutique.
“We’ve always loved the desert,” Marie says. “El Paseo was also our first St. John boutique. We spent a lot of time in the desert and had a lot of homes in the desert.”
They also have loyal friends and clients here.
“They’re not customers; they’re friends,” Kelly says. “We’ve known many of them for, well, I won’t say how long. But we celebrate birthdays and holidays.
“There’s a vivacious social lifestyle here,” she continues, “and the women are full of energy and life. They love color, exquisite quality, and dressing up, which is so refreshing.”
Grayse reflects that sensibility in fresh, sleek, and elegant designs. “Kelly has great vision and style,” Marie says, “and I love the materials, the details.”
One distinctive material is the lightweight leather you can wear in warm weather. The collection features sequined and embellished tops and dresses, Italian silk printed tunics, and finely detailed leather jackets.
In addition to the Palm Desert location, Grayse has a retail boutique in Topanga Plaza and opens a pop-up shop this month at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales also carry the line.
VIDEO: Marie and Kelly Gray, Grayse