For the Chemla Family, the Holidays Are a Last Minute Affair

Written by Faith Brown
Photographs by Pamela Hanson
Styled by Caroline Edison

From left: Louis Chemla-McClellan, Lori Chemla, Alexandra Chemla, Julien Chemla-McClellan, Lili Chem...
From left: Louis Chemla-McClellan, Lori Chemla, Alexandra Chemla, Julien Chemla-McClellan, Lili Chemla, Alison Chemla Chetrit, and Benjamin Chetrit wear Leset clothing and Alison Lou jewelry.

“It’s all last-minute,” says the restaurateur Lori Chemla of her gifting philosophy. Not that she needs to worry—between her and her daughters, the family could open their own extremely chic gift shop. Lori is the cofounder of Carissa’s the Bakery, an East Hampton mainstay known for its artisanal bread and provisions; Alison is the designer behind Alison Lou, the colorful jewelry brand; and Lili is the founder of Leset, a set-dressing label that counts Gigi Hadid and Selena Gomez among its fans. For Alexandra, the founder of the art-tech start-up ArtBinder, sourcing gifts is a more considered process: “I’m not gonna gift them software, so I do put a decent amount of thought in,” she quips.

The French-Tunisian-Jewish Chemla clan is based in New York City, where Alison, Alexandra, and Lili grew up, but they often spend the holidays visiting relatives in Paris. As the daughters have gotten older, gotten married, and, in Alexandra’s and Alison’s case, had children, their holiday routines have evolved—namely, they celebrate Christmas, thanks to Alexandra’s husband. “I never did a tree growing up,” she says. “It’s been really fun. Every year, I buy a new ornament to add to our collection.”

If there’s one thing growing up in a big household has taught the family, it’s that the holidays are about quality time spent together. “We often have dinners cooked by Alexandra’s husband,” Lori explains. “And Alison has become the balabosta. She does Friday-night dinners, which 20 or more friends and family attend.” True to form, Alison has volunteered to host the first night of Hanukkah this year, a decision that was made during this very interview (“It’s whoever calls it first!”). As for what the Chemla women are hoping to receive over the course of the eight nights: a massage for Alison; some “non-maternity” clothes for Alexandra, who recently had her second baby; a nice blanket or facial for Lili; and for Lori, “a week of sleep.”

Still Lifes Photographed by Bobby Doherty; Styled Christina Holevas. Prop styling by Noemi. Bonazzi at M.A.P.

Hair by DJ Quintero for Living Proof at The Wall Group; makeup by Shayna Goldberg for Tom Ford Beauty at The Wall Group; photo Assistant: Chris Dinerman; digital technician: Milton Arellano; hair assistant: Harley Beman; makeup assistant: Cyler Daigle; retouching: Kit Tyson; still life photo assistant: Kenyon Anderson.