© Laura Layera, all rights reserved www.luluphoto.com
"You want a joint?” I was asked.
An open box of perfectly rolled marijuana cigarettes sat on an outdoor table, as guests lit up, creating clouds of smoke in the Beverly Hills backyard.
We were inside jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche’s appointment-only showroom, a 3,249-square-foot house turned studio on a residential block, and what initially felt like an intimate house party that was in fact to raise awareness for California’s Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state. It will be on the ballot come November 8th.
“Some people are afraid to really express themselves, and it’s something that I’ve always been about,” said Aiche on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t know any other way, to be honest with you. I’ve never been ashamed of who I am or what I do, and I don’t think that smoking cannabis should be shameful.”
The designer’s “Sweet Leaf” cannabis themed pieces have caught the eyes of many, including longtime fan Rihanna.
“I definitely like lavish things,” said Aiche, whose fine jewelry collections incorporate diamonds and rare gemstones. “The sweet leaf finds its own way to each avenue.”
Aiche recently released a Mother Denim collaboration, offering customized button-downs, as well as a collection of exotic skin clutches – all in one way or another incorporating the cannabis leaf motif – and recently, she’s expanded the line to include pouches, packed with a lighter holder and two smoking cases.
“Jacquie has really elevated the conversation,” said friend and co-host Bianca Green, founder of Spark the Conversation, a non-profit that aims to change the social stigma of cannabis. “This line is really elevating how people take a look at this plant. I mean look at the people we got to attend today.”
Green and Aiche were surrounded by an unexpected crowd that included the world’s two most talked about models and W cover stars, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Outside the door, Vanessa Hudgens lounged on a patio sofa in a cannabis head crown.
“Put it right here,” Hadid told Jenner inside, as she grabbed a sticker and placed it on Jenner’s jeans. Jenner obliged, sticking it to her thigh. It was an image of a green cannabis leaf. Hadid – in a black tee and long silk skirt – sported one of her own.
“These are people who were never stigmatized by the drug war,” continued Green. “Guaranteed that they barely remember it. We’ve had legal medical marijuana for 20 years in California.”
Personal freedom is the message, Green said, who will soon be touring the state to speak on the topic: “The idea that this is real and that the drug war is not over. I love being part of this and seeing all these people literally wearing the pot leaf – it’s kind of ridiculous, because 8 years ago, I couldn’t even get Snoop Dogg to do an interview about this issue, but now look at us.”