I Love St. John Sport Knits - The Elite Designer for Women's Knitwear

What is So Special About St. JOHN's Knits

From the distinctive Santana® knit created by ST. JOHN to the glitz of the sequins (paillettes), ST. JOHN clothing line is distinctive and luxurious with 22k electroplate buttons and tags (even on their sporty line), ST. JOHN Knits is always the best of the best, sometimes boxy, sometimes sexy but always created with distinctive colors, fabrics, and buttons.

This particular fashion line has been attributed to cold female lawyers and politicians over 40 (sorry ladies IF you fit here - I am sure your personality differentiates you so please take heart!). And yes, many of the iconic pieces are simply too corporate and too boxy to render any warmth or liveliness to the garment. But then there are the soft knit slacks and lighter fabrics that simply drape and hug you and scream to the world - complete elegance.

The boxiness of the garments are always balanced with exquisite 22k electroplate buttons often enameled in bright colors - a work of art in and of themselves.

The colors of ST. JOHN's knits are unparalleled. ST. JOHN for all its conservativeness and sometimes boxiness is very bold with colors. Their colors are not only bright but always unique. Their colors are always a true celebration to clothing. Ironically many of their famous advertisements are black and white showcasing the drape of the clothing and the iconic models such as Angelina Jolie.

St. John Knits and Kelly Gray Advertisement

Kelly Gray with cowboys for one of St. John Knits first advertising campaigns
Kelly Gray with cowboys for one of St. John Knits first advertising campaigns | Source
Kelly Gray for one of St. John Knits first advertising campaigns
Kelly Gray for one of St. John Knits first advertising campaigns | Source

Elegant St John Fashion Options from Casual to Formal

St John advertisement with Angelina Jolie and two dogs
St John advertisement with Angelina Jolie and two dogs
St John advertisement with Angelina Jolie
St John advertisement with Angelina Jolie
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John colorful jacket / cardigan in green and pink large overscale floral
St John colorful jacket / cardigan in green and pink large overscale floral
St John evening jacket and skirt in blue and white
St John evening jacket and skirt in blue and white

St John with Leather Trim - Modern Yet Classic

St John Milano Top with Leather Trim
St John Milano Top with Leather Trim
St John Milano Asymmetrical Top with Leather Trim
St John Milano Asymmetrical Top with Leather Trim


First Advertising Campaign with Founder's Daughter Kelly Gray

The iconic advertisements first launched with the founder's daughter Kelly Gray were so sought after that many ladies confided buying VANITY FAIR magazine just for the ST. JOHN advertisements. The advertisements with Kelly Gray were a direct mirror of the inventiveness of ST. JOHN - a bit of reality intermixed with fantasy. Kelly Gray in stunning ST. JOHN clothing surrounded by a dozen stunning men - every girl's delight - great clothing and gorgeous men!

Advertisements - Kelly Gray, Angelina Jolie to now Karen Elson

The face of ST. JOHN has transitioned from Kelly Gray to Angelia Jolie to now the gorgeous and distinctive red-headed Karen Elson. When is ST. JOHN going to return to the real people people? ST. JOHN even admitted that Angelia Jolie over powered the brand. When will the advertising people take note that we want the fantasy within our reach? Or it this how the cougar syndrome got started?

The aloof Angelia Jolie didn't work so now we have an amazing red-head who none of us can dream of being any more than being Angelia Jolie.

For advertising sales, I know they don't need a middle age person like me but they do need I feel someone I can relate to - a Sandra Bullock, a Julia Roberts, a Celine Dion - women who like me are wonderful but with tiny flaws. I believe after girls grow out of Barbies we still want the Barbie fantasy but we need a realistic fantasy. That is why the Kelly Grey advertisements worked - she was beautiful among impossibly drop dead gorgeous half a dozen men! That is what we want to aspire to be - the best we can be surrounded by the male gods of good looks!

The ST. JOHN collection in 1995 added a "sporty" line - a casual line - at least for ST. JOHN it is casual - more like a the country club high brow designer must impress the friends $400 a piece line but still much cheaper than the thousand dollar glitz and glamour evening pieces. Now that line is more appropriately labeled the Yellow Label (wonder how Ralph Lauren feel about this - his black and purple labels were so iconic - isn't "yellow label" just a change of color?!).

The Iconic ST. JOHN Models

Kelly Gray - beautiful blond - daughter of the founder Marie Gray

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen

Angelina Jolie - a multi-year deal 2006-2009

Karen Elson 2010

Other models Marina Peres, Bianca Balti, Hilary Rhoda, and Caroline Winberg.

The Signature Pieces

What makes ST. JOHN so pricey? Or more importantly what makes ST. JOHN's pieces so sought after? What would inspire you to spend $395 for knit slacks? Thousands for an "evening suit"? For one, the pieces are distinctly ST. JOHN - your friends and associates will take note - the pieces are all with gorgeous trim and equally gorgeous and flattering fabrics. Some of the thicker wool suits are cumbersome and I feel make anyone outside of size 2 look frumpy but the thinner knits are elegant. The colors are always classic or bright and bold. We need bright and bold - I want orange - I want to aspire to a beautiful tan to compliment the orange and other vivid colors.

What Sets ST. JOHN Apart

Here's the details that I feel set ST. JOHN apart: the specialized weave and their trademark wool and rayon knit trademarked as Santana® followed by their gold which is beyond gold - it is 22k electroplated - and it does look different - that is the piece that is stunning - the buttons and the tags are Beverly Hills all the way! And we haven't even mentioned the evening wear with all the glitz of the shimmering sequins.

No Logos Needed

My favorite part of the ST. JOHN line is no logo is needed. The embellishments and the unique fabric speak for themselves. You will never find an embroidered butterfly, polo horse or any other embroidery on the chest, on the sleeve - anywhere. These pieces of clothing are about the clothing - not about the designer - the distinctive fabrics and buttons are what shout the exclusivity not the do-dad added logo.


St. John Knits Distinctive Buttons

St. John Knits Distinctive Buttons in blue
St. John Knits Distinctive Buttons in blue | Source

No Logos on the Front for St John - Distinctive Fabrics and Buttons Shout St. John without a Label

Clothing designers love to be recognized. But perhaps the real note of notoriety is a line of clothing so distinctive that simply the fabrics and the buttons showcase the designer. What - no logo! Yes, that is the predominance of ST. JOHN's knits. This $400 million…. dollar fashion house was built with no embroidered emblem. Perhaps no other line of clothing is as distinctive as ST. JOHN's knits.

Adding the Glitz Sequins (Paillettes)

sequined knee length gown by St. John in silver with long sleeves
sequined knee length gown by St. John in silver with long sleeves | Source
Sequined knit. Bateau neckline. Dropped shoulders. Bracelet sleeves. Blouson bodice. Pencil skirt. Hem hits above the knee. Polyester. Imported.
Sequined knit. Bateau neckline. Dropped shoulders. Bracelet sleeves. Blouson bodice. Pencil skirt. Hem hits above the knee. Polyester. Imported. | Source

St. John Emerald Green Pailletes Top

St. John Emerald Green Pailletes Top
St. John Emerald Green Pailletes Top | Source

Distinctive Clothing Attributes of St John Knits

Santana® Knits

Santana® Knit the signature blend of wool and rayon. I am told that the knits can be "blocked" by your dry cleaner to allow you to comfortably change sizes - the blocking can go either up or down - depending upon your needs.

Knit-in Hem

Beyond their unique fabric – the standards of excellence even for the hem have been raised - while most companies use sewn-in hems, ST. JOHN uses a knit-in hem – incorporating the ending of the garment completely in the overall design.

22k Gold Electroplated

22k gold electroplated buttons and designer labels. Many buttons are enameled which is one of my favorites - it is like having jewelry right on your clothing!

Accessories follow suit with 22k electroplated gold and well worth viewing on their website. Not allot of accessories but as classic and enduring as Coco Chanel creations ever were.

Pailletes - Adding the Glitz

Heat set pailletes - sequins which IF cared for properly will withstand multiple dry cleaning (if you dry cleaner knows St John). The special application of the pailletes heat set right at the factory make these pieces truly heirloom pieces. If you look carefully there is vintage ST. JOHN with pailletes - a testament to the quality of this pieces of clothing.

The Ann Magnuson so aptly stated in her article entitled Not Everyone Wants to Look Like Angelina Jolie that "The only people I know who wear ST. JOHN's neo-Chanel knit suits are Republican lawyers and stock brokers I know back in West Virginia. (Oh, and Gloria Allred.) These professional women wear the clothes well but I never thought that the "classic, forgiving wool knit suits trimmed with glittery buttons, vivid colors and heat-set paillettes" were all that forgiving....unless you had hair big enough to balance out the effect."


St. John spring 2009 Runway Show Part 1


Where to Buy

ST. JOHN started out with only a handful of boutiques and launched into Nordstrom’s, Niemen Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Today, ST. JOHN Knits are sold around the world. You can even find ST. JOHN out on eBay with both their newer lines and their vintage lines and their Sport line or now what is called their Yellow Label. So what pieces does ST. JOHN have to offer? They have a broad spectrum extending to evening and luxurious cabin wear - here's a breakdown for you.

The Various Lines of St. JOHN's Knits

The Basics Line

The Basics line are those pieces that are an integral part of each women’s wardrobes and include season less products such as classic jackets, skirts in solid black, tan, white and navy Santana® Knit. These pieces work well for any time of the day or any event and can be dressed up for galas or dressed down for the corporate luncheon. Typically these pieces will never go on sale or have any markdowns.

The Couture Line

The Couture line is dresses and dressy separates – suitable for the “first cabin” on your yacht or cruise. These pieces offer the glamour of paillettes and Swarovski crystals, oftentimes lined. These pieces are the top drawer items – with the 22K electroplated gold chain and COUTURE plate on the label.

The Sport Label - Now Yellow Label

The Sport label is the most versatile and comes in more fabrics and more knits and wonderful jean like materials. Pieces separates - jackets, pants, skirts, coats, novelty sweaters and jeans. While more casual- this line is still classic and works well for the younger women as well as the target market of the mature woman.

The Accessory Line

The accessory line includes shoes, scarves and costume jewelry denoted once again by the 22K electroplated gold. The purses and shoes are Made in Italy. The jewelry line is as classic as Coco Chanel with bold elegance and timeless design with each piece befitting the ST. JOHN standard of excellence.

St John black and white advertisement with Angelina Jolie laying prone on a white sofa
St John black and white advertisement with Angelina Jolie laying prone on a white sofa
Auntie Mame poster - Rosaline Russel
Auntie Mame poster - Rosaline Russel

Beyond Auntie Mame? Or Perhaps Now Similar?

Is ST. JOHN allot like Auntie Mame played by Rosaline Russell? A little bit in the flamboyance of exquisite details and bright colors but with a little more subtlety and enduring classic design?

Definitely not - but the colors of the Rosaline Russel poster and the current red-headed model make for a fun constrast!

The great item about ST. JOHN is the piece you buy today will not be dated next season for the following four seasons. If you choose a flattering color, you will have a piece of clothing to enjoy for years - how many cotton sweaters can claim that fame?!  And Auntie Mame was over the edge - that is NEVER ST. JOHN Knits!

St John for Evening

St John advertisement with glamorous red head wearing a black evening gown
St John advertisement with glamorous red head wearing a black evening gown | Source
St John advertisements
St John advertisements

St John Advertisements

St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement
St John advertisement

Transcending Fashion from Daytime to Dusk the St John Way

St John evening suit - white/blue jacket with blue skirt
St John evening suit - white/blue jacket with blue skirt
St John beige day time suite
St John beige day time suite
St John black suit transcends daytime until dusk
St John black suit transcends daytime until dusk

ST. JOHN is an American Fashion House

St. John is an American fashion house brand for women's knitwear, founded in 1962 by Robert and Marie Gray.

Sales - I have heard both $125 million and $400 million.

Headquartered in Irvine, California, the brand has its collections and styles sold in specialty stores in 29 countries and 31 company-owned retail boutiques in the United States.

The original face of the brand was model Kelly Gray, the daughter of the founders. Following Gray, supermodel Gisele Bündchen became the new face of St. John. Beginning in Spring of 2006, Angelina Jolie became the new face and spokeswoman for St. John.

In 2010, St. John announced that they are replacing Jolie with British supermodel Karen Elson.

St. John Website

Paillettes and Sequins

Paillettes on ST. JOHN knitwear comes in all colors, irresident, pearly, clear and rich colors.  Paillettes are most commonly found on their evening wear but also can be found on their Couture line.


This French word for sequins and you see it used a lot in describing the trim or all-over detail of a garment made by ST JOHN. Paillettes are usually shaped like rectangles.



Paillettes

"pail·lette (pä-yt, p-, p-lt)


n.1. A small piece of metal or foil used in painting with enamel.

2. A spangle used to ornament a dress or costume.[French, from Old French, diminutive of paille, straw; see paillasse.]pail·letted adj."

source: free online dictionary.com


Sequins

"Sequins are disk-shaped beads used for decorative purposes. They are available in a wide variety of colors and geometrical shapes. Sequins are commonly used on clothing, jewelry, bags and other accessories.

Large sequins, fastened only at the top, have been used on billboards and other signage, particularly prior to the development of lighted and neon signs.

Signs made with sequins were called schmaltz, as were the sequins themselves in that context.

Although coins are still used as sequins in some cultures, modern sequins tend to be made of plastic.

They may also be referred to as spangles, paillettes, or diamantes. Paillettes themselves are commonly very large and flat.

Sequins may be stitched flat to the fabric, so that they do not move, and are less likely to fall off; or they may be stitched at only one point, so that they dangle and move easily, to catch more light.

Some sequins are made with facets, to increase their reflective ability."

sourse: wikipedia.com

Pearl Ring by St. John

Pearl Ring by St. John
Pearl Ring by St. John

Marie Gray - The Founder of SJK - ST. JOHN Knits

As provided from SFJ.com fan book on their website as accessed on 2.16.2010:

Fans from SJK.com

"Since 1962

Marie Gray

About Me

  • Profession: Designer ... Retired
  • Location: Irvine, Shady Canyon CA
  • About Me: 10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ME... 1.) I was born in Belgrade. 2.) Went to school in Austria and Canada. 3.) Studied voice in hopes of a career in theater and opera. 4.) Loved clothes and became a fashion model. 5.) To impress my boyfriend, I knitted a dress. 6.) Married my boyfriend (Bob Gray) who became St. John's CEO until he retired in 2002 7.) We have three children... six grandchildren and one great grandchild 8.) I am a picky perfectionist. 9.) I am passionate about golf and LOVE to play. 10.) We have 3 dogs who rule our house.
  • How long have you been a fan of St. John? Since I knitted the first dress in 1962
  • One thing you can't live without? My golf clubs
  • One thing you can't travel without? My St. John wardrobe
  • How do you spend your leisure time? Golf ... golf and MORE golf
  • What makes you proud? My family
  • Favorite magazines: Vanity Fair & Golf Digest
  • Favorite websites: Style.com & Target.com
  • Favorite color: Besides black? Red
  • Favorite vacation spot: Any spot with a great golf course
  • Favorite place to shop: Trader Joe's Market
  • Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving
  • Favorite charitable organization: Childhelp, World Vision, Girls Inc.
  • Favorite car: My first major purchase a white Ford convertible
  • Favorite hotel/resort: Home
  • Favorite airline: The one that leaves "on time"
  • Someone you admire: creative, Strong, bold women
  • Fantasy dinner-party guests: Tiger Woods
  • Last book you read: Cook book
  • What is the most memorable event you wore St. John to: White House State dinner
  • Member of: Shady Canyon Golf Team
  • Pets: Bailey, Chili, Amber



Kelly Gray

About Me

"About Me: What you may not know about me..............I ballroom dance at least 3 days a week, I have 2 bull dogs named Gucci and Dolce, I was born at St. John's hospital in Santa Monica, I live at the beach, but I have never spent a day AT the beach, After doing an event at the Detroit Car Show, I will only purchase American cars, my favorite hotel in the world is Hotel Zaza in Dallas, I love to sleep, I am green enough to annoy my friends and co-workers, my pet peeve is bottled water, my new favorite airline is Southwest business select

  • How long have you been a fan of St. John? Since the Day I was Born
  • One thing you can't live without? My Blackberry Bold....
  • One thing you can't travel without? Lipgloss
  • How do you spend your leisure time? Touring
  • Favorite websites: Facebook.com
  • Favorite vacation spot: Aspen and Greece
  • Favorite holiday: Christmas.....I start decorating in October
  • Favorite car: Anything Americain
  • Favorite hotel/resort: Hotel Zaza (www.hotelzaza.com/dallas)
  • Favorite airline: Brittish Airways
  • What is the most memorable event you wore St. John to: The White house....(it's in my photo section)
  • Pets: Gucci and Dolce my English Bulldogs"

Karen Elson St. John 2010 Ad Campaign

Behind the Scenes Resort 2010 St. John Couture

Your Impression of ST. JOHN Knits?

  • Classic and Elegant
  • Too Boxy - Too Stuffy
  • Over the TOP - Auntie Mame-like
  • Luxurious - Only for the Elite Rich
See results without voting

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6 comments

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

knits embroidery -- trademark wool, love it and I like this hub too, thumbs up, Maita


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

Prettydarkhorse,

You are one of my top writers - you are amazing! Thank you so much for stopping by.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Great hub. Well written and informative. I also wrote a hub about a designer - Nicole Miller. I love her dresses. Very artsy, if you are interested. Thanks.


bdsista 5 years ago

I recently acquired a collection of St. John which included many of the basics line and the Chanel style knits and being a size 14-16, I can tell you that they hub this Liberal Democrat DC Lawyer's curves wonderfully! You don't need the big hair either, unless you want to do the Beyonce wig thing. So I disagree about the frumpy on larger sized women, I think we carry the knits off fabulously! You gotta have great accessories and attitude! Love your post otherwise!


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

@elyane001,

I love Nicole Miller - and you have a great post.

@bdsista,

Oh, I love your energy! Thank you so much for sharing! I bet you carry it off with great style! You are right - the accessories and the attitude make the outfit come alive.


tammie 5 years ago

I have a vintage st john evening for saks fifth ave, black knit with black and white long feathers at crossed neck and sleaves. i have matching jack mcconnelfloppy hat with matching feathers. Do You Know best way to sell these. they are truly beautiful pieces. worn maybe 3-4 times only. size 8

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