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Designer Diary: Jeremy Laing Goes To The Races


I don’t know much about NASCAR, or any car, really. Nevertheless, I couldn’t turn down an invitation for myself and my friend Tommy Ton to hang out with reigning NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra, who happens to be a fan of my clothes. Plus, the girls at Capitol, one of the best boutiques around, were planning the trip and I love seeing them. I knew I was in for an interesting weekend en route from Toronto when a U.S. Customs official offered to swap places. Here’s my weekend as a NASCAR designer.

Friday, October 16

Our weekend started with a dinner of true Southern cuisine at Chandra and Jimmie’s place. Grits never tasted so good. The ham biscuits were a revelation. After dinner, Jimmie drove us over to his “man space,” a warehouse that is home to his multitude of trophies, cars, and framed flags from all the races he has won. It was like a Price Is Right showcase! We played Photo Hunt for hours and enjoyed the salvaged nineteenth-century hotel bar.

Saturday, October 17

Race day! Still, we had enough time beforehand to check in at Capitol. It was great to see how well the Patrick Blanc vertical garden in the store’s atrium had grown since my last visit, and such a nice surprise to see my dresses in the main window.

Later that afternoon we met up with the Capitol crew at our hotel and drove by cavalcade to the speedway, where we got the full behind-the-scenes gold-ticket tour. Here’s Laura Vinroot Poole and Jennie Wrenn from Capitol posing with Jimmie’s 2008 Sprint Cup, proving that it is possible to be stylish and love the races. Go 48!

I felt a little conspicuous in my pink Jimmie Johnson Team 48 hat, but I was really digging the pit crew jumpsuits and the marching band’s Beyoncé rendition, so I didn’t really notice the stares.

Here’s Chandra Johnson, Jimmie Johnson’s wife and the first lady of NASCAR. Tommy Ton and I freaked out in her closet. He squealed over the shoe cupboards. There were Kirkwoods stacked two deep, his version of heaven. I was happy to see some of my old pieces again. It’s nice when they go to such a good home!

It was incredible to hear the engines rev up and to witness the start of the race from Jimmie’s pit box, but it soon got too loud, so we headed up to the Smith family suite—they own the speedway—for a better, warmer view and more Southern hospitality. I spied Tiffany Smith in the crowd in one my jackets. Of course, the party really got going when Jimmie won the race. Again.

Photos: Tommy Ton

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